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Posts Tagged ‘HDR’

Suzzallo Library

The reading room at the University of Washington.

The reading room at the University of Washington.

I figured that the best time to take a photo of the library reading room would be before the quarter started when it only contained a few grad students or those taking summer classes.

I wanted to do an HDR shot (which I did) but I did not have a tripod but I had a lot of desks. I balanced a book that was left laying around on top of the lights for a little more stability and to reduce the sound of the shutter (it is a library). The shots were not perfectly lined up however when reduced to an 800 pixel width it is hard to tell.

I want to do a better HDR in the future when it is either night outside or direct sunlight is coming through the stained glass. This was done with an overcast sky which was not impressive. Though it did let me get the full range of light with only three exposures.

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The old Nevada City fire house at the top of Broad Street

The old Nevada City fire house at the top of Broad Street

This is the old fire house in Nevada City, California located at the top of the main street through town.

I took 9 exposures (at f/3.8) ranging from 1.6 seconds to 44 seconds. I wanted 45 seconds but a car was coming and I had to finish the exposure a little bit earlier then I would have liked.

As I usually do I used Photomatix Pro to compile the HDR using the following settings:

  • Strength: 100
  • Saturation: 50
  • Luminosity: -2
  • Light Smoothing: High
  • Microcontrast: +10

Tone Settings:

  • White Point: 1.196
  • Black Point: 0
  • Gamma: 1.01

Color Settings:

  • Temperature: 0
  • Saturation Highlights: 0
  • Saturation Shadows: 0

Smoothing Settings:

  • Micro-smoothing: 2
  • Highlights Smoothing: 30
  • Shadows Smoothing: 0
  • Shadows Clipping: 50
My three main critiques of this HDR has to be the glow around the top of the trees, the top of the fire house is a bit overexposed and the movement of the flags.
There is not much I could do about the flags since there was a soft breeze, I suppose I could see about photoshopping a set of still flags from one of the exposures.
However I am very satisfied by the night sky usually there are bad star trails, straight up black or just generally fuzziness.

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The Humanities and Social Studies building courtyard at UCSB, in HD.

The Humanities and Social Studies building courtyard at UCSB, in HD.

This HDR photo posed a little more challenge then previous ones. In the past when faces with these I did not really like the photo enough to dedicate the time to find a way to solve it. The problem: the night sky.

With many HDR photos taken at night the night sky turns into a mess of noise and artifacts, a result of the processing software. To avoid these using Photomatix Pro I upped the Shadow Clipping and then adjusted the remaining settings to make up for this. In the end this is what I used:

  • Strength: 80
  • Saturation: 55
  • Luminosity: +4
  • Light Smoothing: High
  • Microcontrast: +10

Tone Settings:

  • White Point: 0.604
  • Black Point: 0.161
  • Gamma: 1.23

Color Settings:

  • Temperature: 0
  • Saturation Highlights: 0
  • Saturation Shadows: 0

Smoothing Settings:

  • Micro-smoothing: 2
  • Highlights Smoothing: 30
  • Shadows Smoothing: 0
  • Shadows Clipping: 50

These settings worked well and I used this preset for several other photos taken in the same night.

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    HDR Opinions

    Smoke falling from the Jesusita fire a few weeks ago.

    Smoke falling from the Jesusita fire a few weeks ago.

    There seems to be some very mixed opinions about HDR photography. I know some people who love (like myself) but others who feel that it either takes away from the photo or distorts it too much. As it is one of my three favorite photography techniques (the other two being long exposure and panorama) I sometimes waver between wanting to correct the exposure of an image and creating fantastical effects.

    For example, the above photo at it’s best exposure was either blowing out the sky or under exposing the foreground. Sure part of the problem was that I was taking a photo directly into the sun as it diffuses through a large cloud of smoke, except that is exactly what I wanted to capture. I tried to correct it in iPhoto and Photoshop to fix the exposure levels, but I am not that skilled in Photoshop.

    So I ran it through Photomatix Pro as a single RAW file. The resulting image, I feel, looks pretty natural without the cartoony or fantastical look of many HDR images. Of course I was using the HDR technology to correct the exposures of an image and not create those effects. And there is the strength of HDR, it can easily do both with the same set of photos. I often find myself either processing two versions or struggling to decide between the HDR extremes.

    I still want to make a long night exposure HDR panorama. That would just be quite a cold process.

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    Looking south down the Sonoma Coast

    Looking south down the Sonoma Coast

     

    I started with a list of 39 graduate schools to look into, after slashing that list down based on general principles (website design, research areas, location) I made it down to around twelve. From that twelve I have narrowed it down to my final eight. Well final with the caveat that I can always add or remove schools until the deadline. So not really final. More like the top eight including the top four who will receive my GRE and Physics GRE through the free four universities I get to choose to send it out too.

    Anyway here are the eight I am considering (in no particular order, well alphabetical I suppose):

    My favorite of these is of course the one that accepts me.

    As for the photo, it was taken yesterday (same day I did the redwood one) on top of a hill on the Sonoma County Coast, just south of Jenner and the mouth of the Russian River. It was seven exposures at f/29 since I wanted a longer shutter speed for smoother waves. Again I processed in Photomatix to get the HDR effect. One problem I have noticed with HDR (it could be I don’t have enough experience) is that it can make the sunniest day, this photo being about 2pm in the middle of summer, look dark and gloomy. Especially in the middle.

    I will either need to work on that or just take coaster photos at the beginning or end of the day.

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    A redwood shedding its bark.

    A redwood shedding its bark.

    Today I went hiking around Armstrong Grove in Sonoma County, a redwood forest and towards the end I found this tree. Well I suppose I did not really find it as it happened to fall right across the old path. I carried my camera, extra lens and tripod through the rest of the forest so I was glad to find a good subject for a photo. One thing about redwood forests, unless you have a fisheye lens they are hard to photograph. Try taking a picture of the tree in the forest.

    For this photo I used:

    • Aperture f/11
    • Shutter speeds 6 to 1/40 of a second
    • 22mm on my 18-55mm lens
    • 8 shots total

    I compiled the shots with Photomatix set to:

    • Strength 100
    • Luminosity +10
    • White point 0.800
    • Black point 0.126
    • Gamma 1.20
    • Temperature +3

    Everything else was at the default settings, or at least the setting it was at the last time I used it.

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    I really liked the look of the barrels when I did an HDR shot a day or so ago, so I decided to go back down and try it again. In order to get a full range of exposures I had to use my cell phone to time out a two minute exposure because my camera can only go up to thirty seconds before switching to bulb (I used a remote to keep the picture steady). I read Calvin and Hobbes while waiting.

    I also finally convinced myself to buy the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 prime lens today I am looking forward to the manual approach to photography. That and the f/1.8 speed setting for low light situations. I hope I will be able to do a outdoor night shot of Storke Plaza at UCSB when I get back down there in a few weeks.

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