Recently, Living History Farms in Des Moines hosted their 5th annual photography day. Thousands of people from all over Iowa attended an informative day of lectures and workshops in various aspects of photography.
I was asked to do a lecture on HDR photography. I have included a link to the images that I shot for and used in my lecture. The images were captured at West End Salvage and Living History Farms. At the end of the photos are several additional HDR photos that I have recently completed.
HDR contininues to be of great interest to me as a mode of photographic expression.
HDR for photography is fantastic. With it you can get anything from a subtle enhancement of an already great photo to a hyped up surreal acid-trip version of the real world.
Video is just moving photography. I took the Grays lake video and changed it all to still photos in a directroy (45oo stills in fact) I then converted them to HDR in Mediachances’s software Dynamic Photo HDR. I set up a batch to do the same thing to all 4500 pictures. I then imported them back into my editing software and made them back into a movie. I edited out some parts of the original video because it did not all take well to the process. This post represents the effort.
My next step is to shoot a video from the beginning with the idea that I am going to make it HDR. There are just some subjects and shooting styles that will work very well with this technique.
The music for this video is Mellissa Hyman’s “Let Me Keep You”.
Ok, so I took a ten second video clip, exported it as 300 seperate images, made them all hdr in photoshop, and then imported them back into a video. I will be doing more projects like this.
This video was kind of funny anyway. I used it to test a plan to make video into hdr video. This was my first attempt!
Today was one of those days that are almost beyond description. I have been dreaming of going to a shuttle launch for five years at least. I was in Miami last year and missed one by just a few days. Since then I have been trying with some earnest to see a launch. As you may or may not know, the shuttle program is coming to an end after just two more launches. The program has been very successful over the last 30 years, but the fleet of shuttles is aging and the program is drawing to its inevitable conclusion. With that in mind, I decided a couple of months ago to attend this launch of the Shuttle Atlantis on its last voyage into space.
I have written in previous posts that I almost always couchsurf when I travel. I love having a local person to stay with that knows the ropes and really understands where they live and what makes it special. The accommodations for this trip was a wonderful person in Cape Canaveral named Kim. We arrived at her place yesterday and within in a couple of minutes we were treated to the most wonderful surprise we could imagine. Kim, our excellent couchsurfing host is an engineer for a company that is contracted by NASA. She is an employee of the space center and as such has great access to the launch. She took us out to get pictures last night and then took us to the causeway today for the main event. (The causeway was the same spot that I had spent four hours trying to get tickets for.) It was a wonderful day and it was very exciting to watch the Atlantis take-off. Being with Kim was like having backstage passes to the best concert ever. She was a wonderful host and it was an unbelievable day. I took a lot of pictures, and these are my favorites so far……..
The launch was really spectacular. The shuttle lept off the pad in a blaze of fire and smoke and a few minutes later the roar of the engines hit me in the middle of the chest and did not quit hitting. The shuttle rose quickly into the sky. It was easy to follow it until the separation of the solid rocket boosters and then it became a glowing dot in the sky that slowly disappeared, leaving an appreciative crowd (and Mark Miner) with a memory to last a lifetime. Thanks, Kim for being so gracious and showing us such an incredible time.
I like taking photographs much more than I like being the subject. I never quite relax when I get my picture taken. Once in a while there is a picture that I like of myself. This is one of them.
Taking a picture in low light with no flash makes for a very real picture. The trade-off is a very shallow depth-of-field. (note, my eye is in focus yet the word Nikon on the camera is not.) Also, low light photography almost always has a slow shutter speed. With a slower shutter speed, both the camera and the subject have to be extraordinarily still.
This picture was taken on Greg and Lana’s sailboat at night with just a small background light. The iso is 1100 and the shutter speed is 1/100. The aperture is 1.4 which is as wide open as this lens gets. (this is what causes the shallow depth of field.)
The photo has obviously been post processed. The software is topaz adjust.
I have several pieces of software that I use when editing photos. First and foremost is photoshop. I have learned a great deal about this fine program over the last year. I still probably only use one third of its capability. There are a very large number of excellent tutorials on the web for using photoshop. I usually wait until I really need to do something with PS and then look on the web for a tutorial on how to do it.
For HDR, I use several programs. To truly do HDR, you need to take several photos in rapid succession with varying exposures and then combine them into one HDR photo. This does not work very well with human or other moving subjects. For this you make your HDR from a single exposure. (This is actually pseudo-HDR because it comes from just one exposure) Even with one exposure you can get some truly interesting HDR photographs. My single favorite HDR software that I use when I only have one exposure is Dynamic PhotoHDR by Mediachance. It does an excellent job of spicing up photos and if you play with it enough, it looks great. There is a lot of customizing that you can do within software, yet it is very simple to use.
Almost all of the photographs that I take today end up getting at least a little HDR manipulation. It adds drama and extra “pop” to a photo. It takes a photo that I like anyway and makes me love it.
Flowers from Grays lake. Converted to black and white and photoshopped for a while. I am going to make an art print of this one.
A friend recently asked if I could take a few interior shots of a property that she has for sale. (E5W in the East Village, Des Moines) I decided that if I shot in HDR it would add drama to the photos. I am really pleased with how they turned out. Taking the photos in HDR probably adds fifty percent to the overall time spent processing each photo.
Last evening was beautiful and a great time to hit Grays lake. During the spring summer and fall Gray’s lake is busy with people enjoying the beautiful park in the heart of the city. I brought my camera and got a few photos that I like. Obviously I am a fan of HDR, although I usually do not like that grainy over-the-top-look of HDR done poorly. With that said, I really like one of the pictures of Ryan that I took while I was out and I like this photo with the over-the-top-look.
Two weekend’s ago I had a couple of couchsurfers in town. They were from the San Francisco Bay area. They are currently trekking across the country to start a new life as CSA farmers. CSA stands for community supported agriculture and they made it sound pretty great. They hope to take over a farm from an ailing couple in Michigan and start a CSA program there.
The basic idea of CSA means individuals buy a ‘share’ of a farm at the beginning of the season. For this, they receive a weekly basket or box of fresh vegetables from the farm as the season progresses. Participants also get special trips to the farm, fresh flowers in season, etc. In return the farms get a good cash flow at the start of the planting season when they could use it most. It also helps to spread the risk. In a drought year, people who bought into the farm help absorb the decreased production. To me what CSA really does is connect the community to the plight of agriculture in a more transparent and fun way.
About the pictures.. I noticed that they had their lives packed into this car and thought it would make a great photo. We got back from hitting downtown and they ‘posed’ in the garage for a few pictures. They have been HDR’d because, well, I really like HDR. They are Matthew and Molly.
Eugene is a two-year-old Ragdoll cat with a wonderful personality. This photo makes him look like a bad-ass (he’s not). He is a very good cat who spends a good portion of his time hanging out on my computer desk while I edit photos and write.
Done properly, HDR is a combination of several bracketed exposures combined to make one GREAT exposure. It is an excellent tool.
Unfortunately, getting three exposures of people in a candid style is difficult at best. Most of the time, you can get one good exposure. With a little more effort, you can still make a good psuedo-hdr photo out of the single image. These are some samples of images that I have made HDR-like using a single raw image from the camera. Enjoy!
Note the difference between real HDR and Psuedo-HDR. See the post below
Here are a couple of pictures done officially with HDR. Three exposures in each one, combined for great effect. Notice the difference between this and Psuedo HDR in the post above.
HDR or High Dynamic Range photography will be crazy big in the next year.
Photographs have long lagged behind the human eye in recording a scene. When you stand on my deck and look at the sky, your eye adjusts for the brightness of the sky and you see the wonderful blue. When you look at the buildings, your eyes adjust to let in more light and you see the wonderful details of the bricks.
When you take a photograph, if the image is exposed for the buildings, the sky will end up too bright. If you set it to get the sky right then the buildings will be way too dark. The trick is to take DIFFERENT pictures, exposing once for the sky and once for the buildings and then combine them. This picture is a compilation of five images put together using the best exposed parts of each photograph. The merged image is a photo that hits the right exposure for every part of the scene.