My travels have brought me to El Paso, TX. I spent the afternoon walking around downtown. I enjoyed looking around at all the shops on El Paso Street, and eventually I wandered into the Convention Center. I wanted to get a fish-eye view on this, but I didn’t have one with me. I stood as close as I could and held the camera in portrait orientation shooting 6 photos from left to right. I stitched the RAW images together in Photoshop, and processed the panoramic as an HDR.
Yesterday I set out on a 3-hour drive to one of our locations in Kentucky to try to capture next year’s calendar photo (2009 photo, 2010 photo). We had a very specific shot in mind for the late evening, so I had a bit of extra time to explore the countryside, and perhaps collect a few pretty pictures. But after the shoot was over and I was on my way back to the hotel, I passed a scene that was the prettiest I saw all day. A gorgeous sunset lightly illuminated a farm that was quite a distance from the road I was on. I did a U-turn and parked. Luckily I had the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L plus a 1.4x teleconverter with me from the shoot. I knew that the sky, though not seeming very bright to my eyes, would overpower the dim farm. I took 5 photos from a tripod with different shutter speeds – dark to light. Today when I got home I merged them into an HDR photo, and did some split toning in Lightroom 3.
I’ve done a lot of driving this week. I went up to eastern Ohio for my wife’s family reunion, down to the Kentucky/Tennessee border for work, and up to central Indiana to see my sister and her newborn baby. Each trip took several hours of drive time, and I found myself very anxious to get home. But driving over long distances can reveal fun new places to explore and take photographs. It can be so tempting to let the desire to arrive at my destination take over, but I think it’s valuable to take the time to get a little sidetracked.
I went out this morning to take some photos of the fluffy, white dandelions out on the farm. While I was finding some dandelions to shoot, I came across this beautiful drainage ditch (if there is such a thing). I thought it actually looked a bit like a tomb. This is a 3-exposure HDR image (click the picture for exposure information). After tonemapping in Photomatix, I brought it back into Lightroom for more tweaks like contrast, curves and split-toning.
For Easter weekend, Veronica and I went up to Ohio to hang out with family and friends there. Friday was way too beautiful to spend the car trip with the windows up. It’s fun to see Pita through my side-view mirror enthralled by the ever-changing scenery.
On Saturday we went to the Cincinnati Zoo with our nieces. It was kinda rainy, but I got a couple fun shots anyway like this one of the elephant house. When I was processing this in Lightroom, I pushed up the fill light and the clarity (and a few other adjustments) which gave it an HDR look because I compressed the tonal range. It got me wondering, what is it that qualifies an image as an HDR or a pseudo-HDR? Do you have to use Photomatix or Photoshop? I think that, based on the concept of High Dynamic Range imaging, Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW can produce Pseudo-HDR images by pushing up Fill Light and Recovery. I’ve seen some debates about this, but it seems like those who disagree don’t fully understand what a RAW file is and how programs like Photomatix only combine JPEGs (or converts RAWs to JPEGs and then combines) to achieve HDR images.
This week we finally got our new printer delivered! This thing is amazing, lemme tell ya. I plan to really love this thing. Not only is it a high-volume high quality printer, it also holds about a billion sheets of paper, staples, and folds in several different ways: C-fold, Z-fold, in-half fold… it even folds Tabloid paper in half and can staple the middle! Very cool. We are told that it can print full bleed, but I have yet to figure out how to do that.
We love this thing so much that I took a picture of it. This is actually an HDR of the printer (obviously I masked out the background). I did HDR because it sits right next to a huge window/wall and I wanted to have more even lighting.
Today was a beautiful Saturday here in Kentucky. I decided that, with the nice spring weather, I would fill in some patchy spots in my lawn. My dog, Pita, and I embarked on a mission to gather the necessary supplies. I put down a little topsoil and began casting the grass seed by hand (New Testament parable style) when I noticed that Pita was starting to think this was some kind of game. I would throw the seed and she would run through it like it was her wedding or something. It was really cute, but she was starting to hinder the process a bit, so I had to put her on the deck and close the gate. But when I finished seeding, I played fetch with her favorite toy and let her run through the sprinkler.
After a while she became tired, and it occurred to me that it was a beautiful day to take some pictures. So I grabbed my glass and a tripod and started making some HDRs to document my afternoon.
It’s not easy taking a 3-exposure HDR of a dog – requires a lot of shooting/deleting.
I’m trying to push myself to pick up the camera a little more often, just to keep in good shape. Spring is really helping to motivate me 🙂
Midway is a cute little town in Central Kentucky. We have a railroad track that runs right through the middle of downtown, so it has been a popular location for train photo shoots. This is a “Pseudo HDR” of a cute little building there.
I took this photo in RAW format which means that the camera records all the image exposure data coming through the lens without compressing it to a JPEG. I like to describe a RAW file as a cube of image data, whereas a JPEG is a plane within that cube.
Photoshop and Lightroom are used to process RAW files. When you adjust the exposure, you’re essentially moving that plane back and forth within the cube.
This principle relates to HDR photography techniques. Traditionally, a photographer will shoot a scene in JPEG format at several different exposures to create this range of exposure data. Using special software like Photomatix the images can be blended together. But it can also be done using a single RAW file. Essentially, for each pixel in the image the software will search the dynamic range for a midtone and use that exposure setting for that pixel. So in other words, it’s adjusting the exposure for each pixel. With this method, shaded areas are exposed properly and bright areas are exposed properly.
I always shoot in RAW format. I don’t always make HDR images with them, but it’s very practical to be able to tweak exposure and contrast in a way that is more effective than just darkening/lightening pixels. Shooting in RAW has saved my bacon on more than one occasion!