Monday, February 2, 2009

Images from my HDR study

Tripod, a sturdy one and ideally a wireless/or wired remote, no getting around it if you don't want to regret messing up an opportunity that presented itself. That is what I like about photography, every scene is unique and mother nature has a say in it. (Except in the case of a set up still life studio shot which to some extent can be repeated if you can figure out the light placement).

The Christmas scene below is a tone-mapped HDR (High Dynamic Range) image from three bracketed shots taken on a tripod during a foggy winter night. It was the lawn of the Capital building in Olympia. Without a tripod, one would not have three matching images to merge seamlessly. This one I was prepared. I had a decent tripod with me and it was worth bracing the cold night for it.

shot with tripod, long exposure, bracketed exposure

The second HDR image, that of a hillside pasture with a hint of spring was taken last weekend in San Jose. I was doing a small unplanned hike off a mountain range on a detour and did not have a tripod with me. It was 30 minutes before sunset and the hill slope just glowed with light. I set my camera to take three consecutive shots with a single shutter click and bracketed the shots (-2, 0, +2). Then I used Photomatix HDR software to map image details and shapes and merge the tonal properties. However the imperfect lines are visible if viewed at 100%.

No tripod, three consecutive shots, bracketed exposure

Then there is this last shot taken this past Fall at the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle when on a spur of the moment, I decided to experiment with HDR. Without giving much thought to what I needed to do, I proceeded to bracket the three shots handheld (one of those stupid things I did) and thought to myself, yes, now I am going to merge them. Well, that is that, totally painfully obvious unmatched image tone mapped from three shots obviously from slightly different spot - It is sort of interesting and shows what it could have been if I had just used the tripod.

Disastrous HDR result - handheld, bracketed exposure - silly me

I remember a popular saying in the photography world:
"Beginner photographers debate over whether Nikon or Canon is a better camera, the real pros debate over which is the sturdiest tripod to have." Once lugging a good tripod with you becomes a second nature, the world you see through the lens will become that much sharper.

To see another tone mapped HDR image - of a city park shrouded in heavy fog, check out my first article on HDR Click Here

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