Showing posts with label technique. Show all posts
Showing posts with label technique. Show all posts

Sunday, November 22, 2009


HDR using PHOTOMATIX PRO (above)

Straight HDR from Photoshop CS4

"Best Normal Exposure" from the series. Non-HDR.

NOTE: This is an introductory article, not a comprehensive how-to with all the possible permutations. The best HDR effects also uses a Photoshop Plugin called Photomatix from HDRSoft. HDR with Photomatix or Photomatix Pro requires some patience fiddling with new software, and a willingness to learn a whole new dashboard of controls.

HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE (HDR) photography is a relatively new technique that is in demand. It can be simply photographic with added detail or illustrative with an exaggerated look. Ever since Ansel Adams worked with the Zone system in film days, we have been trying to force the camera be able to deal with the extended brightness range that our eyes can see. We can adapt to an 11 f/stop range while the best digital cameras can see about 5 f/stops. It still amuses me when people say they only want "what the camera saw." How limiting when they saw so much more. So what to do? Plan ahead and shoot with HDR in mind.

HDR requires Photoshop CS2 or better. I am using CS4. As of this writing it is not available in Photoshop Elements. HRD software may be available as a plugin or other standalone.

The technique works best with still life subjects or scenes without too much movement. The reason is that you are making at least three or more different exposures and allowing Photoshop to "stitch together" the tones. Too much motion beyond a waterfall may get totally lost. Set your camera to shoot in APERATURE PRIORITY mode.

Aperature priority is needed so the focus and depth of field does not change. You start with underexposure of at least two stops, normal and at least two stops overexposure. You can shoot additional exposures beyond the two stop range as well.

You can also set your camera to do this automatically by setting it to Auto Exposure Bracketing, (AEB in Canon cameras that have the feature). Drive mode should be Continuous Shooting, not One Shot. You need to shoot at least three to seven shots of different exposures. Get to be best friend with your camera manual.

Find a nice location that has lots of highlights and deep shadows. Set your camera on a tripod begin your exposure series. See my HDR gallery for examples.

When you are back at the computer after you download, identify the range of files you shot. Ideally you shot a minimum of three shots, perhaps more with different exposures. Start Photoshop and find the files using FILE > AUTOMATE > MERGE TO HDR. Allow time for processing, perhaps a few minutes and you will get the photo in the middle above. Nice but not startling.

If you want the illustrative effect from Photomatix seen in the top photo, you need to get the plugin or standalone program. Prices start at about $100 US and go up from there depending on version and bells and whistles. See for more info on what is best for you. For my version, I first load Photomatix Pro, then select the files from there. More on Photomatix in another post.

Click here to see more of my HDR work.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


There are of course, many ways to shoot subjects but they can be boiled down to planned shots, incidental, or shot in the normal course of observing, but there is a third distinct category I love: SURPRISE! These occur outside the other two circumstances.

And you need to have your equipment ready and WITHIN REACH. This means batteries and cards with capacity, camera available to pick up and use, not "safely" in a bag. I usually carry THREE sets of batteries. You will discover battery failure only when shooting. This will leave you hopefully with two sets of batteries ready to shoot.

The deer above IS inside the car. The camera was two feet away when she suddenly stuck her head in the window. Shooting was natural and the results show it. You need to be ready. Click here to see more from the day's shoot in New Zealand.