Every once in a while all the stars align and things work out. Magnascope had all their equipment in the yard the other day – an extreme rarity – and we were able to get together for a quick photo shoot. Fortunately the weather even cooperated. Utilizing a front end loader, I was able to get an elevated point of view from which to take the photos. It was really incredible to see all the trucks lined up in one place! I shot everything HDR to bring out the colour and texture of the sky. It all came together really well! 😎
It was only -38 with the windchill today so I thought I’d go and do some HDR photography… I’m insane. But it’s true, the worst weather often gives the best opportunities for making photos. We had killer sun dogs again today as the weather was diabolical. I actually didn’t really set out to do HDR. I wanted a slow shutter speed shot of drifting snow. But I realized I forgot my variable ND filter in my other camera bag. Doh. So HDR it was! (more…)
I saw this old car the other day and new I had to come back and grab an image. I wanted to try some HDR stuff with the D800. This was a composite of 5 RAW files in Nik Software’s HDR eFex Pro 2. It’s a bit of a grunt with 5 giant files, but it came together well. I was hoping for a more dramatic sunset, but I’ll take the sunburst instead. 🙂 I’m not a car guy, but I think this is a 1948 Chevy Fleetmaster.
The other morning was beautiful with “hooker frost” all over the place! 😎 Ok, Ok, it’s really hoarfrost, but I couldn’t resist! No matter how you slice it, it was better looking than Julia Roberts. I was out visiting some parishioners and stopped to nab a quick HDR of their barn, as well as a couple of other cool winter shots. Gotta love it! And of course, my favorite little snow bunny too. 🙂
Had to make a water run tonight to the supple bounty of Alameda. It was approaching golden light which is always exciting. It was also dusty as all get out. Dust, fog, mist – they are all the theme park of light. We lucked out and ran into much dust on the roads to let the sunset have the mucho fun. 😎
Capitalizing on the dismal fog, I ran out and came across this blast from the past. What a location! Old smashed farm house, decrepit stone barn ruins, racoon tracks hither and thither… it was a regular haunt of jackals! I was testing the VR function of the 16-35mm lens as I went with no tripod but was still able to do these HDR mashups with very little ghosting. Cool! 😎 I was really diggin’ the high contrast black and white feel when I was editing these ones. Adds to the overall bleakness… 😉
HDR! Boo ya! 😎
This is a brief tutorial on making HDR images. There’s zillions of other posts/pages on the information super highway already so you can look up more info there about it. But this is how I do it. Which makes it infinitely better. 8) Just kidding! 😉
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It’s been around forever conceptually, even since film days. But now, with digital it’s easy and fun. Get a camera and a tripod and find a scene that has loads of contrast: lots of lights and darks. The idea behind this kind of photography is to keep all the detail in the darks and in the light parts of the image. Because the camera currently cannot capture the same amount of dynamic range that the human eye can see, in one camera photo you don’t get as much range as you see with your eye. So, you take 3-7 photos of varied exposure and layer them together with software. I use Nik’s HDR eFex Pro. It’s super slick and comes with many final image presets you can apply to stylize the final image, making it look as surreal or as realistic as you want.
OK, here’s a sunset one I took the other night. And in all truth, it’s not how I typically do it. I was on top of my roof with my 70-300 lens and I did this handheld, which isn’t optimal. Get a tripod so there is no camera movement.
So, the first image: bang. Here it is.The camera meters the scene and determines that this is the best balance of light and dark. We get all that rich colour in the sky & the river. But the valley hills have gone dark and silhouetted the evergreen. This was at ISO 400 f/8 70mm and the shutter was 1/100.
The next shot speeds the shutter up to 1/200, recording an even darker, more saturated image. This one gives the mad colour, but kills off almost all the detail in the hills.The third image washes out the sky but it lifts the details up out of the hills with a slower shutter speed of 1/50. All three images are 1 stop of light apart from each other.
Now, technically, it would be better to get a couple more images here to further lift the details out of the dark regions. But, as I mentioned, this was handheld. If you have a tripod it’s easy to do.
Then, after feeding the photos into the Nik software (I use it as a plug in with Aperture) you can arrive at the final HDR image. There’s loads of darks and lights, rich colours and highlight detail that otherwise would have been lost. HDR is having your cake and eating it too. 8) When you stylize the image, you can make it look wild with texture, like I did here to make the clouds go boom. But you can also finish them to look realistic too which I did for this photo of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Regina. The light pouring in from that window would have made getting a balanced exposure difficult.
Nothin’ beats a good ol’ Saskatchewan storm. We’ve got loads of sky and with our wicked weather, it’s been brewing up the mad cloud banks. On Thursday night, I noticed the big fluffy white ones and immediately thought: Tornado. Or, at the very least a plow wind. But, thankfully it never happened. But it did offer some way cool photo ops. I decided to give chase and drive east, trying to get some shots before the sun went down. I was able to nab the clouds in golden light which rocks the set! I also decided to do some HDR shots to capture the crazy structure & drama of the clouds. Super fun stuff! 🙂
I was out and about yesterday and over the lunch hour, I stopped to nab a couple of HDR shots while we had our one-day-a-week allotment of sunshine. 😉 I knew all I wanted to do was get HDR photos so I put the camera on a tripod and setup my bracketing for 5 images. Using my camera’s sweet ability to do interval timer shooting (might as well call this HDR mode), I set that up for 5 frames and pressed OK. click-click-click-click-click! Got ’em, 5 shots all one stop apart. Couldn’t be easier. I’ve been wanting to get out and get some old rundown prairie HDR shots for a while now, but our weather has just plain sucked. Had hail this morning the size of a marble to boot. Yeck. Gotta make photos while the sunshines!
When I woke up and looked out my window, the sun was just starting to peak over the horizon. There was scads of hoar frost everywhere and as the sun started to warm things up, I knew I had to go nab some shots! I drove south with my 16-85mm lens and went to work composing shots. There were pictures everywhere but I had a few spots in mind that I knew I had to stop at – mainly because I missed them last week when I was driving south without my camera! 😉 I threw my tripod in as well just in case some HDR opportunities showed arose – which they did.
I came across this really cool shed and the way the light was, I couldn’t quite get the exposure with one shot. I wanted to keep the detail on the shed so I did a five shot bracket and stitched it together with HDR eFex Pro. It is some awesome software. I did one more HDR shot of the road that I was parked on which turned out ok too. I didn’t push either of the images too much, just enough to get the colors and the structure I like in the snow.
Anyways, it was a very pleasant morning of shooting landscapes, despite it being really cold and freezing my hands. Guess I need to buy some gloves! 😉
It’s the deepest part of January on the prairies. Usually this means that everything is frozen solid: vehicles, the road, lakes, rivers, photographers, etc. 😉 But this year in our neck of the woods, there is so much water flowing from the Dam that the river hasn’t froze over – which is a rarity to say the least! Much to the chagrin of local ice fishermen who can’t really get on the weak ice, it does provide a chance for some slow shutter speed river photography.
We call it “shutter speed” but really, it’s a unit of time. The same way a lightyear is a unit of distance, not time. Shutter speed is the time duration that light is allowed to come through the lens and light up either the film or the digital censor. The longer this time period takes, we call it a “slow shutter speed.” And oppositely, the shorter this time period takes, we call it a “fast shutter speed” – but really, it’s more helpful to think in terms of time and not velocity. If I want to stop a hummingbird’s wings, I need a fast shutter or, a quick time – only like 1/8000 of a second! But to slow down running water to make it look really silky and creamy we need a longer time (a slower shutter speed) – a full second or more is nice!
For this shot, I had a bit of a gong show. I went yesterday when it finally warmed up a bit and we had lots of light. Turns out it was too much light for what I wanted to do. I wanted a full second of exposure time, but I couldn’t get it. I had my camera setup on a tripod at 16mm, ISO 100 and f/22 (smallest aperture I could get at 16mm). And the problem? The longest duration I could get my shutter at was .5 seconds. Immediately you can see the problem this creates. There is just too much light. The water is blurred (somewhat) but the snow and sky and everything else is completely blown out making it look like… well, crap.
So, what to do? My aperture was constricted as much as I could get it, the ISO was in the toilet and I couldn’t get the exposure. There were 3 options to make this shot work and only 1 was available to me at the time.
Option 1: Neutral Density Filter. If I had one of these for my lens, I could have “dialled in more darkness” allowing me to dump down even four more stops of light! This would have allowed for a longer shutter time and made the scene have an even more silky look in the water. Alas, I don’t have an ND filter, so option 1 is out of reach.
Option 2: Come back later. I could have waited until the sun was close to setting and the place where I was at to go blue from lack of light. This probably would have allowed me to get down a few more stops of light, but I also would have lost the light in the over all scene. Plus I had to parent, so option 2 didn’t work.
Option 3: HDR. This was the only option I had to try to get the shot I wanted. Longer shutter time for blurry water, yet shorter shutter time for proper exposure of the overall scene. This option was the only one I had available. And it worked out OK.
I didn’t really intend to make an HDR image, but it was the only way to control/manipulate/tame the light I had to work with. I took a range of exposures (all at f/22) from .5 seconds up to 1/15 of a second. The last image at 1/15 had a nice histogram with no clipping whereas the .5 histogram looked like an L had fallen on it’s back! I probably could have gone down one more stop to get some more of the darker areas. But that’s why there’s next time. 😉
On the way home today I stopped to do a sunset HDR setup. Earlier in the day I had cleaned up my camera, getting rid of dust and crap that collects on the mirror. Fortunately my D300s has a sweet sensor cleaning option that I use frequently. But as any photographer knows, dust in your camera will be part of your life. Nothing shows how absolutely filthy your equipment is like doing sunset shots where lens is pointed directly into the sun. Every single piece of stuff shows up. What makes it even more pronounced is when you do an HDR mash up. As I did one tonight, I had an absolute nightmare on my hands. There were 10,000 dust spots that I had to deal with in post – sucks! In HDR, they are even more pronounced because the structures and tones of the image usually get pushed around, drawing more attention to little black dust marks.
It’s nasty to try and fix too. I use Aperture 3 and was able to get rid of them with the clone and repair tool but it took forever and it still didn’t come out as nice as I would have preferred. Trying to fix structure in clouds is liking trying to catch rain water in a strainer! ;)It’s a good lesson though in keeping your camera equipment clean – especially your lenses and the mirror. I think the main culprit of this screw up was the lens itself. It was very dusty and had junk on both the front and rear elements. As I was waiting for the HDR to render, I grabbed my cleaning setup and went crazy on my lenses. I have a really handy spin brush from visible dust which works really good, but I also stumbled across a good cleaning video on YouTube that is worth a view.
The old adage “cleanliness is next to Godliness” can’t ever be more true when it comes to photography – especially at small apertures at sunset!
I came across this really informative YouTube vid a little while back. It’s a super helpful tip for Nikon users who want to do HDR photography. It makes use of the Nikon camera option to do handsfree auto bracketing. You setup your camera to take the desired number of exposures, say, 5 each 1 stop apart. Then you compose your shot on your tripod, click this menu option and sit back as the camera goes hog wild automatically bracketing your set number of exposures! It’s really easy to do once you’ve got it setup. It works great in nearly all circumstances, unless you’ve got really weird conditions like trying to do an HDR exposure through a window in a really darkroom – you might need to under expose more images to get ensure you’ve got all the shadows for example. But I’d say for the majority of HDR scenes, the 5 exposure setup with auto bracketing works slick! As always though, check your histograms to make sure you haven’t clipped your highlights and shadows. Tony Sweet’s HDR DVD is really helpful too if you want so see HDR being done and processed. In the vid, Tony uses Photomatix. I think though, he will also enjoy Nik Software’s HDR app. It’s pure awesome with less hassle! 🙂
Lately I’ve been doing some HDR Landscape photography. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It’s a technique that’s been around for a long time, but with new software developments is becoming quite popular and more accessible. Basically, you take 5 exposures (or however many you wish) of a scene. Setup your camera to bracket, say 5 images a stop apart. Setup your camera on a tripod, compose your scene, and then take your 5 exposures. Then when you are back in front of your computer, use an application like Nik Software’s HDR eFex Pro. It works almost like magic to combine your 5 images into a really cool end result. HDR is more like what the human eye can see, with a greater range of darks and lights than can be captured in a normal photograph. It works great for landscapes, cityscapes or any image where there is lots of textures and extreme light/dark contrasts.
And now, after a little HDR eFex Pro magic, and a little help from Viveza 2, we have the final result.
It’s a technique you either love or hate. I like it! It makes for a far more dramatic landscape with added visual appeal. Be sure to check out my Gallery page for more examples of HDR.