Category Archives: HDR Shooting

Why Dynamic Range is NOT Tonal Range

Why Dynamic Range is NOT Tonal Range

Now, it could be…but it’s not

It’s like a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square…so let’s explore this

I recently was reading an article explaining dynamic range, in it, the author went on to explain when a camera has a limited dynamic range it will only show shades of gray not black and white. And I thought, no, that’s limited tonal range, not dynamic range.

Most everything we use in photography has a Full Tonal Range when lit with the same constant light source

  • Our Eyes; can see the full tonal range from Black to White
  • A High End Camera; can reproduce the full tonal range from Black to White
  • A Low End Consumer Camera; can reproduce the full tonal range from Black to White
  • Most decent LCD Monitors: Can produce a full range of tones from Black to White
  • Most Better Photo Printers: Can produce a NEAR full range of tones from black to white (Limited by Paper white {DMin} and Black Ink (DMax} )

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Updated HDR How to Section

I took today to update the HDR How To Page to reflect the changes made in HDRsoft’s Photomatix 5 Program

If you or someone you know are new to HDR and Shooting and Processing of HDR Images it’s a great resource to get you started and the the over 180 other articles in the blog can help you to take your HDRs to the next level (as much as I hate that tag line)

Check it out!

Tell a friend

PT

Photomatix HDR Tutorial Final Image

Photomatix HDR Tutorial Final Image

Using the Histogram to Ensure you have covered the Dynamic Range of a Scene

HisogramAs I discussed in this article: How many Exposures are enough the most important part of the -How many exposures do I shoot – is the fact that you need to cover the entire dynamic range of the scene. As the article pointed out the spacing between exposures was not AS important as covering the entire range.

In this article  Measure & Exposing for HDR I told you how to meter different areas of the scene to know the range of shutter speeds you would need to shoot to cover the dyanmic range. But even though it’s a good way to get you close, there still can be some margin of error because of course we know…sometimes the meter gets fooled. Continue reading »

The HDR Portrait – Done My Way

The HDR Portrait

OK, so last week I had a challenge and I did an HDR Portrait, but it was a composite, marraging a HDR background with a standard image shot with OCF (Off Camera Flash). It was fun, it came out right but it wasn’t what I saw in my mind. How it should be done. One Take, 3 exposures done in real time.

I had to shoot some stuff for a magazine article on Saturday night with my beautiful model Noelle. We finished the shoot and she was tired, cold and hungry but I saw an opportunity for something and asked if she would do one more shot. She sighed and pouted. I said you don’t even need to smile, just stand there. She said OK one more.

I quickly set up the tripod and did 3 quick series of three shots. The first exposure (0) was shot with Noelle lit by an off camera flash, the other two were shot with just the natural light of the scene and I asked her to stand as still as possible since the  exposure times would be quite long

I shot at ISO 400, f/11 and Shutter speeds of 5 seconds(with a flash burst on her which stopped her motion), 1.3 seconds and 20 seconds. I had no idea if this would work.

These are my 3 images, The first image was about how dark it was at the time. It was 5:52 well past the 5:15 sunset.

 The OCF Shot

The 20 Second exposure which she did really well holding still

 I knew the biggest problem I would have would be ghosting from the merge of the OCF shot and the 20 Second shot. The first image was no problem since she didn’t even show up in it.

I knew I needed the best de-ghosting in the business so I turned to Photomatix Pro 4.1 and it’s selective De-Ghosting tool. I made a selection around Noele and then used the 0 exposure to de-ghost. It worked really well with just a little orange halo around her head which I worked on in PP.

I merged the 3 image s and then used the following settings in Photomatix Pro 4.1

Tone-Mapping: Detail Enhancer

Strength: 50
Saturation: 56
Detail Contrast 4.0
White Point .250%
Black Point: .200%
Gamma: 1.20

With the image the best it could be I brought the image into Photoshop. The biggest job there was first cloning all the Bird Poop off the area she was standing,  It glowed. After that I did an over all levels adjustment and some dodging and burning on her face and dress. A little work with the saturation brush to remove the orange halo around her head. And a little dodging of the white water.

I still wasn’t satisfied with her look, as much as the increased saturation from the HDR process improves landscapes, it is damaging to complexions. So I once again turned to the B & W contrast layer placed below the top layer and I reduced the opacity of the top color layer to about 65% I then created a mask around her so that the rest of the image’s color remained at full saturation.

The last process was to run the entire image through some noise reduction. This time I chose Neat Image because it does a good job of retaining detail in skin areas while reducing noise

And this was the final image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I had it to do over again. I wouldn’t have done it when Noelle was already warn out by a full shoot. I would have shot earlier so I wouldn’t have needed ISO 400 and I think I would have made the OCF shot the -2EV exposure. Since the flash exposure is the same regardless of shutter speed. I actually could have got that shot and had her run off because she wouldn’t have been captured by the low ambient light. I think it would have made for just a bit more detail in her and no problem at all with ghosting.

Overall, I’m really happy with it. It was a beautiful evening and a great night to shoot. I would have liked it if Noelle was a little more energetic but I understand why, but in a way I actually like her melancholy with the shot itself. She really did a great job the whole day and I can’t thank her enough for all the work she did.

Let me know what you think. I did it.  HDR + OCF = OMG!

 PT

I should have known this…but I didn’t – AEB and Manual Mode

AEB and Manual Mode

I pride myself on knowing my equipment, so this hurts

I was fiddling with my camera because I needed to answer someone’s question about Aperture priority and AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing). Now of course I know and had suggested to people that they use AP + AEB to get their 3 exposure bracket. Of course I also knew that you could do AEB and use  Shutter Priority mode, which we don’t suggest for HDR because we want a constant aperture and therefore a constant Depth of Field

What I never realized was that on my Camera (Canon 5D) and other Canons models along with Nikons ( as far as I know, I checked with a Nikon user but would like another confirmation) what I didn’t realize was that AEB was possible in Manual Mode too. On Canon’s in manual, You can choose an aperture and the camera will bracket just as it does in any of the semi-auto modes. I’ll be darned. I should have know this but I didn’t and the 40 years I spent shooting Manual Film Camera, AEB wasn’t even an option on those fully manual mechanical wonders.

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Shooting Snow in HDR – Snow is HARD!

Shooting Snow in HDR – Snow is HARD! 

I have a line of Christmas Cards called The Lone Ornament. So when it snows inSouthern California…yes, it snows here…provided you go above 7,000 feet – I head up to the mountains to shoot for the next year’s card. So after it rain here on Thursday I knew there would be snow up there on Saturday. 

So I headed up to the mountain hamlet of Idyllwild. It started to snow as I arrived and when I got to Humber State park it was a “Picture” perfect scene.  About 6 inches of white puffy freshly fallen snow and it was snowing lightly as the sun played in and out of the clouds. I could not have asked for a better day…and I LOVE snow. 

I got the shots I needed for my cards and they came out fantastic (no you can’t see them, they are a secret till December of 2012). When I was done I thought I would hike up the trail and try having some fun shooting in the woods and do some HDR after all, surely snow have a high dynamic range…or… we would think. 

Measuring the DynamicRange 

I hiked up the trail (Huffing and puffing, 7,000 feet is rough) and set up my tripod amongst some beautiful scenes and I set about to measure the dynamic range. I set my meter to spot metering. In snow spot metering is essential for measuring the dynamic range, using other modes the snow played too big a part in the metering and threw off any real measurement. Using Evaluative/matrix metering actually showed NO dynamic range as it metered everything the same. 

 At the time the sun was out and at f/16 and ISO 160, for the brightest spot on the snow I got a shutter speed of 1/500, for the deepest shadow area of tree bark I got a shutter speed of 1/20. OK that sounds good, so roughly 5 stops of range to cover. 

But wait a minute. We have to remember one of the most important facts about in camera metering. In camera meters are reflective meters; they measure the reflected light off our subjects. And they are calibrated for middle gray. They will get the exposure correct if the object you are metering is middle gray (18%) or a midtone. If we measure white or black, the meter tries to make them gray. It will do that by underexposing white and overexposing black, both by about 2 stops. 

So knowing that, that 1/500th shutter speed would underexposure our snow by about two stops. So really the exposure for the snow would be 1/125th. So now 1/125th to 1/25 is really closer to 3 stops difference in range, which tells us we really don’t need HDR! 

But I pressed on and did some anyway. 

Shooting

What I found worked best was 3 exposures. And if  I was using auto Exposure Bracketing it was best to also add in +1 Exposure Compensation to make up for the meter misreading the snow. Even though we know that snow will make the meter under expose by 2 stops, using +2 Exposure compensation was too much and our final bracket image was just too blown out. If I shot manual, I took the same compensation in mind and started my bracketing at 1/125 or 1/200 

The other thing I found was spacing, if the sun was shining bright on the snow, + – 2 stops worked fine. If the sun was not shining brightly on the snow + – 1EV actually worked better. Yes that is NOT a broad range but again, this is not as dynamic a situation as we may think it is. 

Here are three images I shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processing for snow

Shooting snow in HDR is just half the battle, processing it correctly is the send part. The problem most HDR processing programs have is handling white and especially large amounts of white. This has been my one pet peeve will all the developers. But it’s actually to be expected. Just like our meters want to make everything gray, that is also the function of the tone mapping of HDR programs. They will try to make everything a mid tone. This results in graying of all things white. So we need to take some steps to assure that doesn’t happen. 

Regardless if you are using Photomatix Pro or Nik HDR Efex Pro or any HDR program what we have to watch is how much compression we apply. In Photomatix this is Strength and Lighting adjustments. In HDR Efex Pro it is Tone Compression. 

If we were processing in Photomatix we would want our Lighting adjustments to be Natural + and a strength of under 50. In Nik HDR Efex Pro, which I used here, I used  Tone Compression. set to 0.

That still leaves us with some pretty dingy whites so we need to make an adjustment to our white levels and quite a bit of it to, I used between 20 and 40% more white levels to get the images right, you want the brightest parts of the snow just below blowing out. I also added about 12% blacks to bring back a little shadow detail and then about 20% to the structure. My fine adjustment just to bring out a bit more detail I upped the method strength to 20% with the Neutral method. 

This gave me the most pleasing look to the image, the cool part was I needed no further post processing for any  of the images in Photoshop or Lightroom. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now comparing it to a single image shot with the correct exposure, you really won’t see a huge difference. In fact I think you could work with a single image and get similar results. We don’t really see a big difference in range because quite frankly, there isn’t much anyway. But there is an improvement in detail that I feel may be worth it. Would I shoot snow in HDR again? Maybe, but I am not sure it was worth the effort completely. 

Perhaps since it was such a beautiful day in the wood and snow, I should have forsaken the tripod and all the set-up and time it took and just enjoyed the hike more and shot conventionally…but then again…I DO run The HDR Image…soooo 

Hope that helps, 

Final note to self, make sure you waterproof hiking boots, subset note to self, be thankful that wool socks keep you warm even when wet.  

PT

The Tattle Tail Histogram & HDR

I’ve often talked about only shooting HDR when necessary and then have gone on to tell ways of measuring the Dynamic Range to see if it is sufficient to warrant shooting HDR.

But here is a quick way to determine  if you do need HDR, It’s not fool proof but usually is a very good and quick way to at least know you may be on the right track.

I was coming back from hiking in the snow in the mountains and I saw this driving home thinking it might be an interesting shot. So I snapped one off. One quick look and I knew it would never be OK without HDR. I was just too tired from hiking to break out everything to set up so I just passed it by. But I noticed the histogram and really made the connection between the two

Here’s the image and the Histogram. Whenever you see two big peaks at each end and a really shallow valley in between, you may need HDR

 

Hope that helps,

PT

Shooting the Sun – Blobs and Stars

Shooting the Sun 

Caution: Never look directly into the sun, Never meter on the sun, Never point your camera directly at the sun, Never! 

HDR has opened up a lot of shooting possibilities; one of those is shooting in the direction of the sun and not having to settle for a silhouette. But what about shooting the sun itself? Well that is a little harder. 

The first problem is; the dynamic range of the sun to a shadow is beyond even what the human eye can do in one glance.  We would (BUT WE SHOULD’T) look at the sun and then our eyes would need to adjust for dark subject area.  The human eye is capable in one glance of seeing a Dynamic range of about 10,000:1 the sun would be about 100 times that. (For reference, a good LCD monitor DR is about 1,000:1, a print much less than that) The sun is too bright for even the human eye to see. 

And what would the sun look like, to our eyes, even if we did look at it. Would it be a perfect round white ball? Not really, since our eyes really can’t see something that bright a mid day sun would appear as a large diffuse white object in the sky with no clear delineation. 

As the sun is close to the horizon upon rising or setting, because of the atmosphere, diffusion and particles (water and dust) in the air, the brightness of the sun becomes much less, while the dynamic range may still be high the sun itself is closer to being viewable and we are able to capture more definition to the edges of that “Circle”. 

So are we able to “Shoot” the sun? Yes it would be possible to shoot it but we need to use some special means  such as using Neutral Density filters because even at our camera’s maximum  (f/22 ISO 100 1/8000) that may not  get us the “Ball” of the sun. But again is that what we truly want since that would not be “As the eye sees” In fact it may be actually odd 

 Sunsets themselves are not hard to do and can be an easy capture. Midday shots will be the tough ones.

What kind of sun do YOU want? 

We can capture the sun Midday one of two ways, as a large blob or with a star effect. And even though “blob” may not sound that good, it may be in images with a ceratin look, be the right choice. But it is a choice you need to make before shooting because your camera settings will depend on that choice. 

Now you may say; Well a Star effect really isn’t how we see the sun. True but it is how we visualize a bright object if even in our mind. After all, when we drew the sun as a kid we always drew those Points around it, we never just drew a circle. This is because it is an effect we can get when viewing any point source light that may not be as bright as the sun. sSuch as stars (which of course are just as bright as the sun just farther away, or even things like white Christmas light, street lights, headlights etc, when we view them at night 

To get a Star effect we can do it one of two ways; the easy way of buying a Star filter. They are available with 4, 6 and 8 points in many filter sizes. The nice part about these is you can use them with any aperture but the aperture may dictate how long the star points are. Or, we could do it the hard way, which of course, I always choose. We can do it with aperture. 

To get a star pattern on ANY point source light we need to use a very small or tight aperture. Now I wanted to show you some examples of that shooting the sun at different apertures. But of course today in “Sunny”Southern California, it is completely cloud covered. So I will instead use a point source light, a Halogen Lamp, since this effect will happen with any point source light. So for today we will call our hHalogen light Happy Mr. Sunshine. 

To givet a star pattern to a point source light we want to use the smallest aperture available on our lens which in most cases is f/22 (some telephotos go to f/32- f/35) 

Let’s look at the different effects that aperture have on this. Same light same Exposure, just changing Aperture 

Now let’s look at what the effect of exposure is on the star, as we go from underexposure to over exposure, the size of the star increases. We also see as we underexpose the overall scene enough we loose the star effect completely, another reason we may not want to get a “Perfect “exposure on the sun itself 

 

OK so now let’s go real world and a real example.

Shooting for a Star Effect

The effectiveness will depend entirely on atmospheric conditions the day you shoot. If it is a clear blue sky you will have much better definition, add and haze or light cloud cover and you may not get this effect at all.

I’m going to make it easy for you because I really don’t want you looking into the sun trying to figure this out. 

For you initial exposure in your series of exposures for HDR, You first exposure should be f/22 1/400 ISO 100 (If your low ISO on your camera is ISO 200, use 1/800) you could use 1/800 for a tighter pattern if you would like. But a good rule of thumb is to have your sun exposure 3 – 4 stops lower than the Ambient light. This 3- 4 stops lower will work in the middle of the day as well as for sunsets when the sun becomes less bright because so does the ambient light. 

For those of you that want to know, the Ambient light during the day  would work out to f/16, 1/100, ISO 100 so the above f/22, 1/400 ISO 100 works out to 3 stops less exposure. 

For my example shoot I shot this series

 6 Images, 1 stop apart. I knew the sun exposure and just needed to get a reading of the shadow area which I spot read and got f/22 1/13 ISO 100. So I just had to work between those two in 1 stop increments. You need to shoot enough to cover the dynamics of the scene and 1 stop apart which is important in this case. We are going to have  a tough enough time processing this image in the first place we don’t want to have to worry about posterization  or banding around the sun due to too large of steps in between exposures on those areas. 

One word of note; Shooting under these condition are ripe for lens flare. So we can choose to try to minimize it or celebrate it. If you want to minimize it try changing your angle to the sun and also remove any filters form your lens as low quality ones can compound the problem. In this case lens hoods won’t do anything to help lens flare since what we normally would be shading (the sun) is included in the frame) 

 

Here are the exposures 

Now comes the tough part; Processing in Photomatix Pro 4.1. The biggest problem any HDR Processing programs have is areas of extreme contrast (This is why we get halos around edges of building to sky) and areas of white (It’s why we get gray clouds that should be white). So here we are throwing both problems at it at once. 

So we have to do some things that normally we may not normally do or want to do. Those of you that like Grunge or Painterly effects I will tell you right off that you will have a hard time with your normal work flow. Because as much as the normal settings for  Lighting Effects and strength are what give you the effect you like, they will do what they normally do and attempt to make everything a midtone and it will cause a lot of graying on your sun and the sky that surrounds it. 

Why this is a difficult process is because of two things, we want to try to keep a tight center for the sun and distinct star points. If we get that look right the overall image is dark. As we try to lighten the image we loose the tight center to the sun and its distinct points.   

In this case we use some extreme things that we normally would do; well I guess I should say, I never do. In this case I used the Surreal Lighting effect button, something that I normally never use. And I brought the strength back to 50. This kept our sun’s circle tight but didn’t cause the rest of the image to get super dark which even if we took out into Photoshop would be tough to correct for. 

There was a little haloing around the Hopper and a little graying of the area around the sun but noting I couldn’t fix in Post. 

Here are the compete settings for this image’ 

Strength 50
Saturation 70
Luminosity 0
Detail Contrast 0
Lighting Effect Surreal
Smooth Highlight 0
White point .250%
Black Point 0
Gamma 1.20 

You may want to try a little Highlights Smoothing in these cases moving the slider towards the middle to get the look you may want.

And that’s it for Photomatix Pro.

I then took the image into Photoshop and touched it up with a levels layer and some dodging and burning. I burned the edge of the Hopper with a Midtone Burn tool set to 10% to take care of some of the haloing and then dodge the highlights and burned the shadows a bit on the hopper body itself.

Then I sharpened the image just a bit using Nik Sharpner Pro 3.0 and I was done…well except for one more timy trick. 

 There still was a little graying in the rays of the sun, that I just wasn’t happy with. So I added another blank layer on the image and I grabbed a soft paint brush  set to 20% Opacity , 20% fill and then I sampled the blue sky next to the sun and just painted over the gray area till it became a little more blue. Not super necessary but it just bothered me a bit. 

 

 

 

This is the final image 

 

 As you notice the image contains a lot of sun flare and I even cloned out one in the grass area but I am fine with them in this instance. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few other examples of shooting the sun

In this one, I used f/8 and went for the blob look. I wanted the sun to look more oppresive in a harsh environment of the Salton Sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two don’t show the difficulty of shooting mid-day but rather using the Star Effect on sunset suns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll leave you with one little bit of trivia. The number of points on your star effect tell you if you have a even or odd nuber of aperture blades in your lens and how many blades.

If you have an even number of blades say 8 as  you will see eight points to the star. 16 points are actually produced but the over lap each other and look like 8. If you have 7 blades you will see 14 points because on odd numbers they don’t overlap. (Generally the more blades the better the lens, better bokeh)

 

Hope that helps,

PT

Shooting Automobiles – Part – 2 – Processing

Shooting Automobiles – Part – 2 – Processing

 Yesterday we covered the shooting of automobiles. Today we will concentrate on the post processing of those images and more specifically post processing the images as High Dynamic Range images. 

As promised I will take you through this step by step just as I would do the image, so you get to see everything that “I” put into it. Just bear one thing in mind, what I do on my image may not what you need to do on your image. Even though I will give my settings in Photomatix doesn’t mean that those will be correct for your image because every image is different. 

They may be a good starting point but I tweak even my starting point to get what I need out of that particular image. Plus you may not even want to have the same effect that I want. If you want a more painterly effect your starting points would be way different than mine. 

Processing In Photomatix Pro 4.1 

Starting with the 3 images I showed you yesterday I open them in Photomatix Pro 4.1. Even though ghosting should not be an issue, I still brought it into the manual de-ghosting screen for a check. This image didn’t need any help but as we will see in the image I shot with OCF, there were about 6 areas with Blinkie-Blackies that needed to be fixed. More on that later. 

So opening the image in the tone mapping screen, Moving down the list I used: Detail Enhancer, Strength 40, Saturation 70, Luminosity -2, Detail Contrast +6.0, Lighting effect Medium, 

Other settings I adjusted;

  • Smooth Highlights 28, I used this to have a smoother gradation of the sky and took some of the gray out of it that can happen in highlights.
  • White Point: 2.000%, this actually has a much larger effect on overall brightness of the image than Luminosity ever has. Still not sure why they call it that.
  • Black Point: 0.092% just to bring back some of the shadows and blacks in the image
  • Gamma: 1.20, this brings the Midtones where I want them. If you watch your histogram of your image, you will see a center peak in almost every image, this controls where that peak is. I prefer it slightly to the left of center but in the end I look at my image more than the histogram to see what look right. It’s just an interesting correlation you may like to see
  • Saturation Highlights: 7.0 this controls the saturation on the highlights only. They appeared a bit washed out so I wanted to add a bit more to them. 

This got the image as far as I would get with the controls of Photomatix. The image now needs some more local adjustments so I will bring the Image into Photoshop or you could bring it back into Lightroom if that is where you like to work. 

This is the image as finished in Photomatix 4.1

 

 

For those of you using Nik HDR Efex Pro, I achieved similar results using these setting

  • Compression: 43%
  • Saturation: 22%
  • Structure: 9%
  • Blacks: 12%
  • Whites:19%
  • Warmth: 26%
  • HDR Method: Natural

Final adjustments in Photoshop 

The first thing I notice and should have noticed when shooting is that the horizon line is not straight. We want to look at the horizon line and not our vehicle because we shot at an angle to it the front should be lower than the rear. So using the measuring tool and Rotate Canvas; arbitrary, I straighten the horizon. (Note there are other ways to get this done in later versions of Photoshop and in Lightroom)

While I am at it since I have to crop the image anyway I will crop in a bit to eliminate some of the periphery of the background.

 

 

 

 With our image now level and cropped at this point I will zoom into 100% and take care of any sensor spots that may be visible in the sky or other areas. Its best these are taken care of now and I use my Spot Healing Brush tool to fix those.

 Problem Areas 

Now it’s time to move on examining the image and see what areas may need work 

 

The first thing I wanted to tackle was the sky and the mountains in the background. Since this is a large area, I decided to use a Curves adjustment layer and mask it just to that area. In The curves box, I brought the highlight across a bit to lighten the highlights and then used my eye dropper to determine where the mountains were on the line and brought those down in levels. I then painted out the rest of the image in the layer mask so that this adjustment only affected the sky and bright mountains. Just to tweak those mountain ever so it more, I burned the shadows on them just a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rest of the work was just dodging and burning the problem areas. Keeping in mind that if we want to take down highlight you burn highlights you don’t add more shadow. Some times burning and dodging is not as intuitive as we want it to be so you need to work on the right segment. To bring out the wheels and headlights more, I set the dodge tool to Highlight and 10%.

 After all my dodging and burning I finished off the image with a sharpening layer using Nik Sharpening Pro 3.0 set to Display: Adaptive Sharpening and 60% 

Final Image 

Here is the final image as I see fit

 

You’ll probably notice these are not HUGE changes to our image but rather just the finishing details that make it the best it can be.

 

 

Our Advanced Shoot HDR + OCF 

Finishing our OCF image off was a very similar process so I don’t think I should bore you with that recap. The one thing that WAS very different was in the beginning stage when I was merging the files. As I said earlier there were areas that I needed to get rid of the Blinkie-Blackies (For an explanation of Blinkie- Blackies see this post). 

These occurred because we had some bright highlights in the 0 exposure from the Off Camera Lights. These didn’t occur in our +2 and -2 frames because the lights did not fire then (On purpose) so it caused a severe difference that the software didn’t know how to handle without some intervention by me 

So I selected the problem areas in the De-Ghosting section of Photomatix Pro 4.1 and selected the 0 image as the image to use to de-ghost.

 

 

After that, the workflow continued just as I did the other shot. Determine my problem areas and addressing them all as needed.

This is the final HDR + OCF image. (You may note a difference in the trucks color, this is because the color of the light was so different after twilight, I decided to keep that pink hue as that is what was there at the time. I am not a big fan over-correcting white balance to something that wasn’t there)

 

 

 

Now you may ask, couldn’t you have done the same without OCF? Not really because you have to remember one thing. This image was shot well past sunset. It was dark!… as I was reminded by the two packs of coyotes that started their twilight serenade…which led me to pack up and leave. But we never would have gotten the specular highlights on the trucks body without using some artificial light. 

Now of course we could have, as we did, just shot earlier when that light was there. But the mountains in the background would have had a totally different look as we can see. 

So I hope this help you to try and go out and shoot automobiles. Again you may want a totally different look to your HDR as many people do. So do what you want in Photomatix to get YOUR desired effect. But then take a moment to analyze that result and see where some touch up is needed. You don’t need to do my workflow or my adjustments but just understand it and what does what.

 

Here are a couple more shots from the night with varying degrees of success

Hope that helps,

PT

 

Shooting Automobiles – Part 1 – The Shoot

Shooting Automobiles – Part 1 – The Shoot 

Today we are going to look at yet another subject that can benefit greatly from shooting and processing in HDR-HighDynamicRange: the Automobile. 

Automobiles are almost like shooting portraits outdoors, shot wrong and at the wrong time of day can lead to disappointment. So let’s take a close look at what it takes to get a truly pleasing shot. Today we will focus on setting up the shoot itself and tomorrow we will work on the processing. 

I am also going to do this in two parts, a basic shoot and then an advanced set-up for those that may want to take this above and beyond. 

Location, Location, Location 

Shooting an automobile is as much about the background as it is the car itself. In the wrong environment the car will loose the appeal that we as photographers or more importantly the client, (Classic Car Owner, Auto Manufacturer etc) desire. So first we have to find the location; that may be a twisting mountain road, along the shore of the ocean or lake, In front of a cityscape, day or night or in our case, the oft used, desert dry lake bed. 

For this shoot I chose the Clark Lake dry lake bed in the Anza-Borrego desert of California. My Favorite place to shoot. 

My choice of locations and the desire to shoot HDR was confirmed today when I opened up Road & Track magazine and saw a shot of a 2012 Dodge Charger shot in HDR IN the Anza-Borrego desert. I regularly run into their team doing tests along the way from their Newport Beach headquarters to the desert. In fact, for inspiration for your shoot check out the better automotive publications and even the websites for car manufactures like Porsche and Lamborghini. They often have some downloadable wallpapers that have some stunning photography. 

I choose the spot I wanted because having been there and shot many times I knew how the light would be at all times of the day. I knew at a certain time of day the lake bed would be pushed into shadow while the mountains behind it would still be lit and nicely lit come the golden hour. One note when shooting near large mountain ranges. You need to know that sunset behind those mountains can occur 1-2 hours before actual sunset depending on the altitude and your proximity to those mountains.

The good thing is that it provides for a very long twilight period where the sky provides plenty of light yet without any direct light on your subject. This is kinda of like working with a giant softbox in the sky. Plenty of soft natural light to make our subject look good. This lake bed has mountains on 3 sides so I knew I had to be there at 4PM even though actual sunset was 6:15PM but I actually was able to work past sunset with the aide of something else in the advanced setup of this tutorial. 

Shooting earlier in the day is not desirable, the light is too contrasty with harsh shadows and even if we could capture that dynamic range it isn’t pleasing to our subject at all 

So we want to shoot later when our subject is not in direct sunlight. 

Place the vehicle in the location you want. Again this may take some pre-scouting so you know where the light will be at what time and location 

Having a clean vehicle

This image is going to be sharp and full of detail so a clean vehicle is of the essence. Any blemish will show up. But, we may not have the luxury of a cover trailer to bring the vehicle to the location and it may get dusty just getting there or even while on the location if winds are high. If the vehicle is not your own, DON’T Touch it. Leave it to the car owner to clean. Any scratch you put into a $10,000 paint job will be your fault. 

 If the vehicle is your own or if the owner needs advice on how to clean the car on location, I recommend a California Car Duster to get the big stuff off and then wiping the car down with a Micro fiber cloth using a detailing lubricant such as Meguiar’s Car Detailer. This will prevent the tiny scratches you can get from wiping a car with a dry cloth.

The setup

 Once the vehicle is clean and in place you can begin to play with your setup as the light gets where you want it. Don’t wait for the light to be where you want to start to set-up as the light will change very quickly and you may only get 15 minutes with each lighting scenario so you have to be ready. 

You will need to determine angle and focal length for the shoot. In general we don’t want to shoot straight on to a side or the front or rear. We may want to have those shots as alternative angles but that won’t be our money shot. In general we want to be at a 30-45° angle to the side and encompassing either the front or the rear of the vehicle. Once we determine a general shooting area we need to consider the focal length we will shoot at. 

Focal Lengths

Again I will go back to the “Portrait” analogy. Just as in shooting a portrait, we want to choose a focal length that is pleasing to our subjects face or body. We don’t want any part particularly emphasized, especially if it makes the subject look odd. We want as much beauty as possible and emphasize only the positive. For this shoot I chose my Canon 24-105L 4.0 IS. It gave me the range that best suited this shoot.

 On my Full Frame Canon 5D, I like to use focal length of 50 – 70mm. On APS-C bodies this may be in the 35 – 50mm range on your camera. This gets me close enough to see the detail I want, yet still gives me the perspective I need to include a good amount of the scenic background. I have used up to 200mm at times but remember with a long focal length we loose the amount of the background shown due to perspective. If you are a fan of the Nifty Fifties ( Canon 50mm 1.8 Nikon 50mm 1.8) This may be a great time to break it out.

I don’t like to use wider angle lenses because we start to get distortion in size perspective of parts of the vehicle that are closest to the camera and that leads to a less pleasing look such as this one shot at 24mm.

 Notice how the front fender and wheel are disproportionate to the rest of the vehicle. This would be akin to making a person’s nose look big in a portrait. Not good. 

Also note this is a Standard Photograph in the natural light. It doesn’t have the Dynamic range we want with the blown out sky and no detail in the mountains 

The same shot at 50mm provided a much nicer perspective for our vehicle. But again note how the standard image, while getting the mountains now better lit, plunges our vehicle into darkness. Good thing we know about HDR.

 

 

 

 

We’ve got our location, we’ve got our vehicle placed there, we have it clean and we’ve chosen our angle and focal length. So now let’s shoot our HDR.

 Shoot!

I measured the Dynamic range and knew it was well within the normal 3 Shot 2 stops apart shoot. So I set the camera to Aperture priority and Exposure Bracketing and took 3 shots. 0,+2.-2

 

 

 

 

 

These 3 shots get the midtones, the highlight sin the sky and mountains and the shadows of the vehicle all covered. 

Tomorrow in part 2 I will cover in its entirety the processing of these images.

 

Advanced shooting 

The previous was our normal HDR shoot and will be perfect for almost everything we want to do. But there are conditions where we may need to take it to the next level. 

In Photography we either need to “find the light” or “Create the light” I wanted to shot later into the actual twilight. The only problem with this is I loose some of the natural softbox lighting I get earlier in the evening, especially low on the body and into the wheels and tire area. So to fix that… 

HDR + OCF = OMG 

OK so let’s decipher those acronyms. We know HDR, High Dynamic Range. OCF is, Off Camera Flash. If two things are all the rage in photography right now it is HDR and OCF. So why not combine the two. OCF is a way to tame dynamic range. You use the natural or ambient light to light your background and then provide strobe lighting for your subject and in a lot of cases that is good enough to get the image you want, But of course not for me. I want to take it one step further. 

Here is my Basic Set-up. Two Flashes on stands, One Canon 580EX and One Vivitar 285HV. And Cactus wireless triggers to fire the flashes remotely.  I used 42” Shoot-through Umbrellas (I added the second after I shot this shot on the Vivitar).  I also moved the flashes closer to the subject later to create a larger light source.

 

Of course we could do an entire lesson or website just on OCF, so I won’t. I will just show you some possibilities of using this set-up. But I will give you some pointers that can help.

 

  • Make your light source as large as possible. This means having the lights as close to your subject as you can without being in the shot and also using a large diffuser to eliminate hotspots, This can be a Softbox or an umbrella or even shooting through a large diffuser, remember we are trying to evenly light a large object so we need a lot of nice diffuse light
  • Watch for reflections. We are also shooting a highly reflective object so we have to watch for distinct reflections of the lights. We do this primarily by using “Angle of incidence, angle of reflection” Meaning if the light is at the same but opposite angle our camera is to the subject. We will see a reflection. So if the camera is at a 45° angle to the car, we don’t want the light at an opposite 45° angle to it. 

One lucky part of doing this shoot for HDR, that would be a bad thing in regular OCF shooting, is that the flash takes a second to recharge. In a normal shoot this would mean some missed shots if you shot too quickly. I used this to my advantage because I only wanted the flash to fire on the 0 exposure shot. If I quickly took the +2,-2 shots afterwards the flash did not have enough time to recharge to fire. If I really needed to, I easily shut the trigger off on the camera after the first shot if I needed more time. 

To give you an idea what the shot looks like lit by the OCF flashes here is an example. What should be noted here is this shot was shot well past sunset and it was in fact quite dark. If you look at the shot settings you will see that it is ISO400 f/10 and 1.6 seconds of exposure! But also note that the strobe light matches the ambient which is something we would want.

 

 

 

Tomorrow we will look at this image processed with the other two for our final HDR. I know this doesn’t really delve into how to do OCF. It’s not meant to other than just give you a feel for it and see if it is something you might like to attempt. 

We still can get a great image using HDR alone so this may not be worth YOUR time. 

So be back tomorrow for part two of this tutorial. Post processing where I will take you step by step on how I finished two images and the final results.

I know, you don’t want to wait, but my typing finger is sore.

Later

PT

Help! I’ve broken my Bokeh and I can’t get up!

Bokeh is a term used for the Quality of the  OOFF (Out Of Focus Field) in an image. NO IT IS NOT the term for an image with a shallow depth of field. That would be: An image with a shallow depth of field. LOL

But a great bokah in an image is a very desirable things. Most times when we shoot HDRs we really don’t worry about this because we are shooting for a very deep DOF. Bokeh would be irrelevant for most of our shoots.

But suppose we want to be different, we want to use our artistic side and we want to shoot a subject and then have a very shallow DOF. No problem shoot away BUT as nice as HDR will make the subject of your image it will have a totally detrimental effect to the OOFF area and destroy any great bokeh your lens may have.

Let me show you, For this image I used my Canon 70-200L 4.0 lens which is known for it’s excellent bokeh. I shot a day lillie in front of my home with 3 exposures and at 200mm f/7.1. Now you may say f/71. That’s not going to give you a very shallow DOF, actually it’s probably still not enough since my Focal Length was 200mm and my distance to subject was 5 feet, that still gives me just a few inches of DOF. Shooting wide open would have given me less than an inch of DOF.

I processed the images in Photomatix Pro 4.1 and used the Painterly preset, Just taking the strength down a notch and adding a bit to the black levels.

Here is that image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now some may say,” That looks great”. And to an untrained eye it may. Because HDR brings out detail and perceived sharpness it is applying that to the background to the same degree that it does out subject where we do want the fine detail visible. The same thing can occur when someone oversharpens a standard photograph and applies that sharpening equally to the background. You are sharpening something that is not meant to be sharp and it destroys the look of the image.

But now look at the OOFF of a standard image with the true Bokeh of that area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at the softness and smooth transition of tone in the background. But we loose the extra tone and detail we may want in the our subject; the flower itself.

So is all lost? Not at all. Through the magic of Photoshop and our friend the layer mask, I took the HDR image and dragged it on top of my standard image and then just masked off the background to reveal the standard image background. Problem solved.

QUICK HINT: If you are dragging an image on top of another image and want to make sure that the two images are aligned. First start by dragging the image with the shift key held down. Then to fine tune the alignment, change the Layer mode on the top layer to “Difference” and the image should turn black, The better you align the images the more black the entire image will look especially on edges. Once you have the images aligned, return to Layer mode to normal.

This is the final image, HDR Subject, standard background with that creamy Bokeh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottom Line – It’s still “All About the Light”

All too often I see HDR used as THE important element of an image. It’s not, it’s a process, it’s a tool. Lately when I post images I don’t even say, this is an HDR. It’s irrelevant. Just as what kind of camera did I use, or what shutter speed I shot at or what editing program did I use. They aren’t relevant to the end image. Just how you got there.

So I have been thinking about the above paragraph for a while now but what I didn’t realize was that my shoot this weekend  would prove it to me.

Great Photography

Before I begin that tale, let me first explain what I believe is great photography. Great photography is all about the light finding great light and most importantly shadow and the placement of shadow with-in an image. Great photography is about having an artistic mind to see that great light and also the eye to place that subject of light within a field or more plainly stated, Composition. Once you have the eye for the light, shadow and composition, it’s having the knowledge to capture that and  frankly, NOT F*** it up! This is , to me, the essence of great photography and what I will always and forever strive for. HDR is just one of the tools I use to get there.

 Back to the shoot

I always say I never preconceive what I will shoot when I go to a certain area because the area always tells me what to shoot. This day was no different as I headed out to the Anza-Borrego desert in California. I had thoughts that I would like to shoot the Calcite Mine in the north-east section of the park. Just finding the trail to go off-road on was tough enough and once I got half way there, the trail took a turn for the worse, too tough even for my mighty blue steed and all I could picture was myself being on one of those Video mishap shows with my truck tumbling down a drop off to the desert floor below. So at that point I choose to turn around and look for something else.

I was told there were also some Slot Canyons in the area. So I set off to find them, a short distance away I found them and started hiking the trail. Aha, my best friend the desert had once again, told me what to shoot.

One note of caution. Never hike alone, always have sufficient water and food, NEVER hike in a slot canyon without first checking weather conditions. Even storms miles away can quickly fill a slot canyon with torrents of water that you cannot escape. And finally NEVER EVER EVER EVER drive off road without a minimum of a trail map but really GPS GPS GPS. Really…not kidding. I use a GPS enabled laptop with mapping software that can show some off road trails that a standard GPS unit for cars may not.

As I hiked into this amazing find not only did I think , here was my shoot I also thought here is my story or my next The HDR Image post. I was really excited. What could be a better post then talking about shooting a slot canyon? Because they have always been almost impossible to shoot the  way  you want because of the high dynamic range of clear blue sky down into the dark recesses. So I shot away, excitedly assembling the blog post in my mind as I walked along and shot. This was a very cool slot canyon with a lot of amazing rock structures to see. But as I shot, something was wrong. Usually I can tell just from reviewing the images  and histograms when I will have a good image. Something was wrong but I just pushed it aside because I was excited about the story I wanted to tell.

When I got home, I started reviewing and processing the images and again, something was wrong. Ummm these…sucked. So I pushed the HDR process harder and harder well past where I normally would go. And they got more let’s say HDRy, but the didn’t get any better. Until I finally realized, this was a high dynamic range scene for sure, but in the majority of the scene, there was absolutely No Light or I should say, QUALITY light.

While there was a nice blue sky and some cool light on the peaks at the top of the canyon, The majority of the scene was extremely flat shadowless light. We may call this “Tonal” light. Which can be good for showing tones in an image. The problem was the canyon walls were very mono tones, not even the various tones of reds and yellow you may see at say Antelope Canyon, AZ. A lot was pink or gray mud colored rock. The rock was however full of texture. but to show that off you need “textural” light or light with high contrast. which at this  time of day just wasn’t there. And me pushing processing in HDR to the max was NOT going to give me that.  Even processing in B & W didn’t help, in fact it proved the point. On conversion almost everything in the image became the same tone.

I was so engrossed in getting the story, I forgot about the most important part, The photography, finding the light. High Dynamic Range does not equal…great light.

So you may say, “Your friend the desert lied to you, there wasn’t  a shoot there at all”  Well actually there was. As I pulled my mighty blue steed up out of the ravine and back onto S22, the sun had just set and it plunged the desert into twilight. My friend told me, pull over, now it’s time. and with the beautiful light of twilight over the desert, I got these shots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moral of the story: Great photography will always be about the light. No amount of manipulation is a substitute for that. Your mission should always remain true to make a great photograph. High Dynamic Range does not = Great Light. HDR will not make great light. And sometimes a hike is just a great hike. Lesson learned.

 

Hope that helps,

PT

Shooting Architectural Interiors – Processing with Nik HDR Efex Pro

In this post we are going to talk about shooting and processing Architectural Interiors.

The reason why

Many of you have probably looked at ads for homes on real estate website or the books you pick up for free at the grocery store. The images are usually taken by the agent to save money or may be even taken by professionals…well that just don’t know any better. They all have the tell tale look. They were shot during the day with tons of light coming into the windows and you get one of two things because of the wide dynamic range present. You get super bright blown out windows and a properly exposed room with quite a bit of flare around those windows. Or, you get properly exposed windows and a room so dark you can’t tell if it is a bedroom or the kitchen.

Now a good photographer could know better and shoot at night when you have more control over light, or they could bring in a huge amounts of artificial lights and  get the scene to work. But the truth is, either the realtor has no budget for this big bucks photographer with a truck full of grip equipment. Or they don’t have the time for shooting at night when the home owners are home. Enter HDR.

Shooting

So lets discuss how to shoot an interior using HDR and then we will go over how to best process that shoot in Nik’s HDR Efex Pro.

Those of you that know me know I am not a big advocate of shooting a gazillion exposures. People think if 3 is good 12 must be amazing. And that just isn’t true. Sometimes it is a waste of time, of computing power and may lead to lesser images because of registration errors, shooting images beyond the dynamic range that is there which leads to soft or noisy images and a host of other reasons. Some of my most successful  Landscape HDR images have been shot with only 3 exposures.

But for this lesson I am going to go against my usual wisdom. For two reasons. One is a mater of dynamic range. As much as we may have shooting outdoors, sometimes we can have even more shooting an interior. We maybe have  EV15 (Exposure Value) light coming through a window, yet we also may have light as low as candle light in the room or EV4, 11 full stops of exposure. ( for an explanation of Exposure Value, see this great explanation and charts at Fred Parker Photography ) So that is one reason we will want to shoot quite a number of exposures, just to cover the Dynamic Range.

Reason two; Detail. As detailed as the outdoors is, we are viewing it from a distance and you may not see all the nuances of texture that every object has in that scene. In interior photography, everything is closer, more defined and with that we need to have texture that we can see and well, almost feel. The nap of the carpet, the texture of the upholstery. We’re closer we need to see that.

For this example I shot 9 exposures 1 stop apart. Exposures because that was the dynamic range I measured. 1 stop apart because of the desire for detail of tonality.

Determine your dynamic range

First I determined the dynamic range I needed  to cover. I could not have done this just from where the camera was on the tripod. Because the camera’s meter averages, even in spot mode. It would not have known the correct exposure for the windows light. So I brought my camera to the window itself and metered the light outdoors. This was my beginning exposure. And no, I didn’t need to shoot an underexposure of the outdoor light, I just needed to get it right. This exposure was f/16,  1/125 ISO250.  I then moved to the darkest area of the room and metered there, this would be my final exposure and I just need to  get between the two readings in one step intervals ( I didn’t do the math, I used the 3 clicks of the dial equal one stop trick) My end exposure was f/16, 2 sec. ISO 250. It took 9 images to get from one to the other.

Do YOU need to do 9 exposures? It depends on what your final destination for your images are. I did test with this shoot and shot HDR’s with 9, 7, 5 and 3 exposures. 9 had the best detail, 7 was very very close, 5 was good, 3 was eh. If you image is just destined for websize on a realtor’s website or in one of those small grocery store magazines, 3, 5 whatever, you’ll be fine and far above those that shoot the windows blown out. But say your image is destined for a big glossy Architectural Magazine or a large print on the wall of an Interior Designer. You want the 9 shots.

So once I determined what I needed for dynamic range , I returned the camera to the tripod and composed the scene . Now I like to turn on as many of the rooms lights as possible to give it a more natural look, or “as lived in” look. I will try to only have one color temperture of light on, Tungsten, Halogen, Florescent, because we will have enough problems with white balance with possibly two different light temperature source, we don’t need 5. For this shoot I was in luck, since the lights in the room were CFL’s balanced for 5000°k or daylight.

My scene was set and I shot the 9 frames. Here they are in contact sheet form. (Click to enlarge) The image sequence runs from the bottom left up and down to top right.

Processing

Now that we have our images shot, It’s time to merge and tone map them into our HDR image.

For this shoot, I knew the right tool for the job was Nik HDR Efex Pro Anyone that has seen my workshop in my garage knows I always have more than one tool for any job . For this job HDR Efex Pro was the correct tool because of the amount and quality of detail.

Selecting my 9 images in Lightroom 3 I exported them to HDR Efex Pro. In the first part of the tone mapping, I wanted to get my overall look. So I worked on the right panel and started with the following setting.  Tone Compression 22%. Saturation 20%, Structure 4%, Black 6% and Whites 8%

This yielded me this image

Using Control Points

Not a bad starting point for overall balance. But the windows just aren’t right. This is going to be hard for any HDR program to get right because the software will look for the brightest points  and the darkest points and put them where it thinks best. It just gets them wrong here. All is not lost though, enter the beauty of Nik HDR Efex Pro’s Control Points. I placed 9 control points in this image. In the windows, on the Photos on two walls, on the ceiling and on the fireplace. I adjusted these all individually to get the best balance for all the areas and most importantly,  to bring back the detail to the windows.

Here are what the control points looked like and also how it looks when you click on the control points mask so you can really see all the areas that control points are affecting

 

Once I had this all the best I could I took the image into Photoshop For some final touches and this yielded us our final image.

I wish you could see the detail in the full resolution file. The grain of the leather and the nap of the carpet is incredible and the print this made was really as the room looked. Truth be told if I was going to submit this to a high end magazine I may work on the windows even further which would have taken a lot of time and may not be worth it just for realtor submissions.

Getting the correct White Balance

As I spoke about earlier, we also need to consider white balance when working with interior shots.  In a big budget shoot, we could of course  use some gels on all the different light sources to make them all the same color temperature. But we may not have the time nor budget to do such things. We could change bulbs. But most homeowners probably don’t want you messing around with all the light fixtures in their home. So let’s just go simple.

In most instances, I recommend doing a white balance for the predominate light source in our scene. But lets look at the room I shot here and see what the real life experience will be. This also is why shooting RAW is so important, besides giving us the ultimate dynamic range and color latitude, it also allows us to go in later and easily change the white balance of our shoot.

So for this image, the predominant light was outdoor light coming in from the windows along with 3 sources of incandecant light as accents only. The day was cloudy and rainy so setting the white balance for cloudy yielded these results.

Not bad and since I am a landscape shooter I tend to like warm light but I think this is just too much

Let’s try adjusting for the Tungsten Light and see what that returns

Yeah, That’s not any better, in fact I think it’s quite worse. The lights themselves look good but the tone overall is much too cool

Hmmm…OK. Let’s try just as it was shot with the Auto-White balance

To me this is the best of all worlds and the best balance that could be had. Comparing a print of this image to the actual room that day was pretty much spot on for “As the eye sees” my favorite reference. Funny I guess Auto White Balance doesn’t suck as much as some seem to think.

I hope this has helped you understand how to shoot and post process Architectural Interior images, maybe this could provide you with a new income stream selling to Real Estate agents that need every tool they can muster in such a down market.

Equipment used for this shoot: Canon 5D  , Canon 17-40 4.0 L ,  Canon Remote Control , Manfrotto Tripod and Head and of course Nik HDR Efex Pro

Hope that helps,

PT

Ghost Adventures

What was that? Dude, What was THAT?! OMG, WHAT WAS THAT?!!!  Zak!

OK, I admit I have been watching waaaaaayyy too much of the show Ghost Adventures and I think I may have an EVP replaying in my head and I have a hard time sleeping on Friday nights when every creak of my house turns into sure bet that ghosts are in the house.

For the most part when we do HDRs, we want to make sure that Ghosts are NOT in the house (insert rapper emphasis). I’ve showed you in detail in This Post how to very effectively eliminate ghosting, even the most stubborn. Most HDR software also has some auto de-ghosting features that will eliminate some small random ghosting from within your image.

But there are times when we DO want ghosting to appear. It can add a sense of movement to our scene. When we shoot long exposures of the ocean or a waterfall we actually are using ghosting to our advantage. We don’t want to stop the motion of our subject or an object within our scene. Now those are very obvious examples but sometimes they may be less so.

In this recent image I took in downtown San Diego, I’ve demonstrated that ghosting can be a desired effect and is in fact what made the shot. It was at a busy crosswalk on Market Street where the crosswalks in all direction cross at the same time. If I would have de-ghosted the image, not only would you have thought that the streets were empty Or if I did show the people De-Ghosted they would appear static and not show the hustle bustle of a Friday night out on the town. I only wish I didn’t shoot it the week after labor day when the tourists have all left. I would have liked more people in the scene.

Sometimes de-ghost, sometimes leave them be. So that when people look at your image they might exclaim…OMG WHAT WAS THAT?!!!!

Hope that helps,

PT

When to up your ISO in HDRs

As photographers we know we want to use the lowest ISO possible to capture our imagesand keep the noise level to a minimum. This is even more so when we are shooting HDR’s because the noise can get compounded when during tone mapping some tones are boosted and with that the noise

In most instances we want to keep the ISO at our camera’s minimum, 100 or 200 as the case may be. Just one note, don’t use any of the ‘Extended” ISO such as ISO 50 available on some Canon Cameras or ISO 100 on some Nikons. Because of the way these “Interpolated” ISO work, the images while lower in sensitivity, really don’t give lower noise and in fact give lower Dynamic Range per image.

So since we use tripods for good HDR’s or at least we should. Normally we don’t have a problem using low ISO and longer shutter speeds because we, as a practice, don’t have moving objects in our HDRs, although, I did show you how to do that in this blog post. But sometimes we may not have obvious moving objects because to our eyes they aren’t.

Some of those moving objects  may be Clouds (especially low clouds on windy days or close to sunset). The Moon ( It moves about 15 degrees per hour). Boats at harbor ( even with soft swells they move) And I’m sure we could come up with a few more.

So in cases like this we may want to boost our ISO for two reasons, WE want our longest exposure of our series to have a fast enough shutter speed to stop the motion of anything so you don’t get blurring of a single frame. And we also want to be able to shoot the entire series of shots without any object moving in the total time it takes to shoot ( where you most likely would see movement of clouds or the moon. )

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