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Posts Tagged ‘Photomatix’

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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    A rusty bit of tonemapping.

    A rusty bit of tonemapping.

    Hopefully everyone has had a good Black Friday. I was not a full participant, I did not wait in line at 5am for doorbusters. Rather I helped move some very heavy conference tables and went out around six in the evening to do some shopping.

    Not as much debris or wounded store staff as I expected.

    For another set of Photomatix presets:I used Details Enhancer on this original photo:

    • Strength: 100
    • Saturation: 60
    • Luminosity: +2
    • Light Smoothing: High
    • Microcontrast: +6

    Tone Settings:

    • White Point: 0.808
    • Black Point: 0.250
    • Gamma: 1.01

    Color Settings:

    • Temperature: 0
    • Saturation Highlights: +1
    • Saturation Shadows: 0

    Smoothing Settings:

    • Micro-smoothing: 2
    • Highlights Smoothing: 21
    • Shadows Smoothing: 22
    • Shadows Clipping: 0

    After I finished setting this up and actually looked at the preset values I realized something: I used a previous preset to tonemap this. So I guess there is nothing new here.

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    I feel that clouds make the sunset.

    I feel that clouds make the sunset.

    Today my friend mentioned an effect where the currents in the Pacific Ocean create a depression in the middle where all of the garbage collects. I looked it up and found out it is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. I wonder if it will grow to the point where it will form an actual floating landmass capable of supporting significant weight. If not I would not be surprised if it became beneficial in the same way decommissioned scuttled ships act as artificial coral reefs. Or it may just be a huge blight on the seas.

    Oddly enough the Santa Barbara Channel has enough natural seepage to be considered a huge disaster if the same amount came form a man-made source like a big tanker, in spite of this the channel has a huge biodiversity for the small area. To be fair the channel has had a long time to come to equilibrium while the trash island is relatively recent.

    Now for the settings for my above tonemapped photo (single RAW, not HDR): 

    • Strength: 100
    • Saturation: 50
    • Luminosity: 0
    • Light Smoothing: High
    • Microcontrast: +6

    Tone Settings:

    • White Point: 0.808
    • Black Point: 0.250
    • Gamma: 1.01

    Color Settings:

    • Temperature: 0
    • Saturation Highlights: +1
    • Saturation Shadows: 0

    Smoothing Settings:

    • Micro-smoothing: 2
    • Highlights Smoothing: 21
    • Shadows Smoothing: 22
    • Shadows Clipping: 0

    Admittedly these settings are not markedly different then the other photo which actually surprised me once I looked at them.

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    Photomatix Presets

    The UCen at UCSB.

    The UCen at UCSB.

     

    Using Photomatix Pro for HDR image processing I find myself testing out a few presets on each image before starting to do adjustments to all of the sliders. Of course there are not that many presets to begin with, that is none, so I have had to build up a collection of my own.

    As I started adding presets I found myself naming them after the photograph in which they were made. So I had a collection of presets with names with no real correlation to when I should try them out. To remedy this I have renamed my presets to have the structure: [Type of Light] – [Photo Name]. So I may have Night – Storke Tower or Midday Shade – Sloughing Redwood.

    With this structure I can quickly find the set of presets that would best apply to the current photo I am working on, then I choose the preset from a photo with similar light and color. Form there I can make minor adjustments to settings like strength, white and black point, highlight saturation and temperature.

    Of course none of these settings really help if the photo was taken with the incorrect white balance like the one above.

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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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