New year thoughts, not sure where this quotation originated:
“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it and remember that not getting what you want is sometimes the blessing.”
New year images…we were blessed with snow again this week…and I’ve been playing with HDR….some results below.
A little about the HDR shots. Three photographs bracketed by 1 stop were blended as a high dynamic range file in Photoshop or Photomatix. Since I didn’t use a tripod to take the shots and the alignment in PhotoShop is better than the alignment done in Photomatix, it produced a higher quality result in PhotoShop, with no indication of ghosting resulting from the blend of three not quite lined up images. The resulting tone mapping in PhotoShop was very disappointing and Photomatix does a much better job of that, so that was used for the tone mapping. When the images line up perfectly, I think that Photomatixs also does a better job of the HDR file too, but it’s early days yet and I am certainly no expert in this technique!
For the benefit of those new to digital photography, HDRi stands for “High Dynamic Range image”. High Dynamic Range Imaging is a method to digitally capture and edit all light in a scene, from the brightest highlights to the deepest shadows and comes into its own when the contrast range in a scene is too high to capture in a single exposure without burning highlights or blocking up shadows. It represents a major leap in digital imaging technology. The good thing is you can do it with any camera that allows you to bracket or exercise manual control or compensation of exposure. That means yours!
If you are serious about photography, particularly landscape and low light photography, you will find that HDRi is the final step that places digital way ahead of analogue. You’ll never want to go back to film and wet processing again. The old problem of over/underexposure in analogue photography is a now thing of the past. A huge variety of subjects can now be photographed for the first time ever in fantastic detail, from high contrast stitched panoramas to church interiors…just think, you can now capture all the detail in the stained glass windows as well as the dimly lit interior. Wow!
How does it work?
Several bracketed shots are taken of the scene (preferably on a tripod, though I didn’t!!!). The underexposed shots will give full detail in the highlights and the overexposed shots full detail in the shadows. The middle exposure will be “average metering”. Using the special “merge to HDR” feature in PhotoShop or other HDR software, a 32 bit image is created, containing the full range of tones, maybe up to 10 stops of information. Then comes the tricky bit….the 10 stops of information have to be constricted back down to about 5 stops, whilst retaining all that lovely highlight and shadow detail. An added spin-off is that noise in shadows becomes much less obvious and skies are shown in their fullest splendour.
A fairly simple explanation is given at http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/high-dynamic-range.htm – that saves me going into fine detail here.