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Posts tagged ‘Photomatix Pro’

Up for Discussion – HDR Photography

Love it, or hate it, it seems to be everywhere at the moment, and has been for the last couple of years.  I did my first HDR image back in December 2011.  I believe this was the first HDR image I put on the blog.

schealesville_hdr1It would have been done with Photoshop, I didn’t get software for doing HDR until later.  I look at it now, as I do most of my early attempts at HDR and just cringe.  The colours are over saturated, they have a very surreal effect to them.  I am not sure that it is what I was after at all.

These, as I said, HDR is everywhere, some are good, some are bad.  I’m not saying which, but I thought we could talk about it here.

So what is HDR?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  The idea of it, well my understanding, is that it will take the bright areas of an image and the dark areas and make an image that looks more like what we see with our eyes.  If you have an image, that has a very bright sky in it, behind a building or something like that, and when you take the photo the sky just takes over and everything else, like the building end up black, or a silhouette the an image like that is perfect for HDR.  You would take a series of bracketed images, so all taken at different exposures.  Then software like Photomatix Pro would take all those images, and make the best possible image.  I don’t know how it does it, but the dark areas will have detail and the light areas won’t be so blown out.

Let me show you in pictures.

This is the main dining hall at Montsalvat.  It is a very dark room.  You can see that looking at it now you can see what is out the window, but you can’t see what is inside.

This is the last photo of the bracketed shots, you can see a lot more detail inside the image now, but everything out the window is all blown out.

This is what the HDR software did to the images.  You can see both inside and out now.

When I first started doing HDR, I would make every image one.  I don’t do it anymore, and actually hardly seem to do it much now.  I find myself using single images, or if I do do a HDR I will only use part of the image.

When I look at images these days, I can nearly always tell if they are HDR, there are little things that give them away.  There is often a grayness to them, I’m told by Victor that is a lack of contrast.  There are often Halos, though halos can come from other things, but most often it is with HDR.

Victor Rakmil has written a post just recently on HDR Photography which you might like too.  He goes into the technical aspects of it more than me and gives more detail about what HDR is.

We were discussing it the other day, and something came up that I think is very true.  We think processes first and subject second, rather than trying to work out what is the best way to process an image to show the subject as its best.  It is something we can get bogged down with.  Rather than looking at a subject and asking if it would be better as a HDR, it is easier to just do it, regardless, which is where I used to be.  Now days, I’m more likely to still do the HDR, but then I compare it with just one image that I think is exposed correctly and ask myself which I think is better.  Often the HDR image is deleted.  The subject in the image always has to come first and then what is the best way to process it so the subject looks its best.

I’m coming down with a cold, so my brain is a bit scattered and I hope you can understand this post.  I just wanted to give you my views on HDR and explain it a bit better for people who don’t understand what it is.

Do you do HDR images?  What software do you use?  Do you do it for every image?  If you don’t do HDR then why?  Do you do HDR and then combine it with other images?

These posts are a great way to share knowledge, so please contribute.

I will approve them, as long as they are nice and not nasty in any way.  I am travelling home today, so I won’t be able to respond today, but I will try and get to them when I get home. I will approve them from my phone.

Feel free to respond or reply to other comments.  It would be good to generate some discussion.

Weekend Wanderings – From One End to the Other

Last weekend I went into the city to do some night photography shots, most of you know this already, as I took my class in for a night photography class.  It was the final class in the course and it was a great way to finish it off.  There were 10 of us with our tripods and camera gear going along the Yarra River for our night shots.  Each week we approached something new to help them learn how to use their cameras.  My classes are very practical, I always think you “Learn by Doing”, so taking photos is an important aspect of what I teach.  I haven’t seen what they got when they went out, but I have been working on the images that I took.

LeanneCole-citylight-1404054981_5HDR-2You have seen a few of them already, and there aren’t that many more of them.  I am happy with what I got.  One thing I did with my class was to let them know they should do more on their own.  I would set up my image and then do 5 exposures for HDR and if they needed help my camera would be fine taking its photos while I helped them.  It worked really well.  I felt more like the person who was keeping them together and moving them along when the time was right than the teacher.  It was a lovely relaxed class.

We started down at Docklands and ended up near Flinders Street Station, not quite to it. We ran out of time and then had to rush to get the train.  I don’t think anyone minded.

Then yesterday morning I went into the city very early in the morning.  The sun was coming up, but thought I would take some photos along the Yarra River again, only daylight ones.

LeanneCole-city_5013-10hpmWe have had so much rain, and I was hoping that if it had stopped raining that maybe, fingers crossed maybe, the Yarra River would be still, and look at that, it was.  I have seen it much calmer, but this wasn’t bad.  Unfortunately the rowers started coming up and down, with their coaches in motor boats and that stillness disappeared.  It was lovely while it lasted.  I love seeing all the buildings reflected in the water.

Nearly all the night photography images are HDR images.  They were all done using the Nik Collection HDR Efex.  It seemed to work much better for the night shots than Photomatix.  Most of the morning shots are straight images, except for two, the above one and one of the bridge.  I used Photomatix for these two, as it seemed to be better for the day ones, softer.  All images were taken with the 14-24mm wide angle lens.

The gallery will have all the night images I have processed, the image I used for the MMC is here too, but the colour version.  I will also put the morning images.   Some of the morning images that I have done were taken at the same spots I did the night shots.  I should have done that more, it would have been interesting comparing them.  If you are interested in my classes then please go to my website, www.leannecole.com.au.  Enjoy your Sunday.

Taking Students Out to Familiar Places

Last Thursday I showed you two images that had been taken at the same spot, but two years apart.  We talked about how it is can be an interesting thing to to go back to old places and see what you can get.  Last Saturday I had my last class with the term 1 students doing my Practical Photography course, and we had decided that for the last class, instead of doing sports photography, we would go into the city and do Night Photography.  It was clearly a great idea and they all were very keen.

The plan was to catch the train in, where we would start at the Docklands end and continue to Flinders Street Station.  It worked wonderfully.  I told them, it was time for them to work on their own while I was still there, and if they had problems or questions, then they could still ask.  Of course I told them how to do the shots first and gave them the notes to help them in the future, I didn’t leave them to work it out on their own.

As we walked along the river there was a spot where I had taken an image last year.

LeanneCole-scdocklands-3hpm5774It has always been one of my favourite night images, so I told them to try doing one for themselves.  As I was able to photograph this as well, I thought I would have another go at taking it.  This image is a HDR and it was done with 3 images in Photomatix Pro.

LeanneCole-citylight-1404054920_HDRThey have both been taken around the same time of night, but at different times of the year, the first was taken around July last year, and the one above taken last Saturday night.  This one is also a HDR, though processed with HDR Efex from the Nik Collection.  I tried using Photomatix, but they have a new version and it kept blowing out all the highlights.  I need to play with it more.  I like how Efex has done it though.

They are the same image really, there isn’t much difference between them, the second one is a slightly wider angle, and the moon is in it.  I like the reflection of the moon in the water as well. Interesting to get almost identical shots.

The class went really well, and did go overtime a little, but I think they all had a great time.  One student said the course was great, but Saturday was brilliant.  You can’t ask much more than that when you are teaching.  It was also nice to hear quite a few of them say they would like to know of more classes that I will be teaching.  So now I think I have realised the direction that I have to go in, I need to do more teaching. I will have to start planning a variety of courses, some to be taught at Eltham and some that I can do myself.

My next six week course starts on the 26th of April, so if anyone is interested there are still a couple of places available.  If you are interested then the details and how to book are available at Living & Learning Nillumbik, or click here.

Of course people can always do my  One on One Photography session though, I am planning on offering more group things, like Photographing the Architecture in the City, Night Photography Along the Water, and some other ones around the city and near by places.  I thought I would start a mailing list for people who would be interested in doing classes with me and want to know what is going on.  If you are interested and would like to get emails on dates and courses available, then please email me, leanne@leannecole.com.au with Classes as the subject.

A gallery to view the images better.

Weekend Wanderings – Up Close to Rippon Lea

Rippon Lea is part of the National Trust.  I joined the National Trust for two reason really, one, so I wouldn’t have to pay entry into place like Rippon Lea and secondly, to support them.  It is great that we have places like Rippon Lea that we can go and visit.  We no longer have to “apply to the housekeeper” and anyone can go. Back on track, I went there the other day with my friend so we could try out our macro lenses.  She has just purchased one, and I had the one that Nikon had lent me, the 40mm Micro DX lens.

LeanneCole-ripponlea-20140325-9279One of the best things about going to Rippon Lea are the gardens.  It seemed like the perfect place to try out the macro.  So every shot in this post is done with the macro.  A macro can be used for normal images too.  I took my Nikon D300s with me this time because I didn’t want the cropped frame of the DX to keep confusing me.  It was also nice to use the D300s again, I haven’t used them since I got the D800.

Just quickly the above image is a HDR done with Photomatix Pro.  I don’t know if I told you that I accidentally deleted it from my computer, so I had to get a new copy.  I was very happy to find that there is a new version out, I don’t know how long it has been out for, but regardless, so I thought I would try it with this image. Not a great image, but I don’t know if it was the image, the software or the lens.  I suspect it might really have been the photographer.

When we were coming in we were asked if we would like to do a tour of the place, inside, and since it was in ten minutes we decided why not.

LeanneCole-ripponlea-20140325-9243The inside is very nice and decorated extravagantly, the biggest problem was the light, there wasn’t much of it.  I didn’t want to turn the ISO up too much on the D300s, too much noise, so I end up with a lot of blurry images.  A tripod would have been nice, but it wasn’t allowed, I assume, so I settled for the small things.

LeanneCole-ripponlea-20140325-9246There were little things set up every where and I just concentrated on some of those.  Wasn’t always easy because of the light, but you do what you can.  It is nice to have a lens that can go right up to things, but I am still struggling with the macro.  I did what people said, closed the aperture down, used manual focusing, but it was still very hard.

LeanneCole-ripponlea-20140325-9254After the tour we headed out to the gardens and explored with our cameras.  I didn’t think I would be able to get bees with this lens, because of how close I had to be, but it was nice to find one that didn’t seem to care that I was hovering around.

LeanneCole-ripponlea-20140325-9271I did manage to get some images that I liked, but it was a struggle.  I found the auto focus very hard, my eyesight is not great, and so I turned the auto focus back on.  I like that the with Nikon D300s and the D800 that I can move the spot around in the viewfinder for focusing, and so I found it much easier to move the spot to what I wanted focused and doing it that way.  I seemed to get a lot more hits when I did that.

Last weekend my students were trying out the macro, it was great for them to see how the macro works, and it has been great for me too.  I really thought, oh I will get one and then done, lots of macro shot.  I see some images on the internet that are so good, and I wonder how they did it.  Maybe macro photography isn’t for me after all.  I am going to have another shot at it before it goes back this week, but in all seriousness, I am not sure that I want to get one now.  I am thinking of trying the extension tubes on my 50mm and seeing how I go with that, but I can’t justify spending so much money on something that would probably be just for fun.

Rippon Lea was the perfect spot for testing out the lens, it was a warm day, but they had plenty of flowers out.  So I am going to share what I got with you now in a gallery.  I better get ready for my class, portraits today, always a great class.  Enjoy your weekend.  I have visited Rippon Lea before, click here if you want to see the Weekend Wandering post I did on it.

Weekend Wanderings – Dockland Sunset

My photography friend who comes out with me often has had some problems with her foot, and we haven’t been able to go out much.  Though I dragged her to the Docklands the other night to take photos of the sun setting behind the Bolte Bridge.  I had thought it might be possible to get a nice one, as the weather the next day was predicted to be nice, warm, but nice.  So I picked her up and in we went.

docklands-20140313-2180This is what we saw when we first got in there.  Not very promising.  Most of you know what my luck is like for getting sunrises and sunsets, I don’t get them very often.  I think both of us had that in mind.  There were lots of clouds for a sunset, but were they too thick, so to speak.  When the sun went down behind those bottom clouds, it was blocked out and you couldn’t see it.  I thought, well that’s it then, no sunset.  Then we started noticing things like this.

docklands-20140313-2357I thought it was a good sign, so we kept looking, and then eventually.

docklands-20140313-2452-5hpmThere it was, the sunset we were hoping for.  Ribbons of fire across the sky.  We were both very happy.

We went to a spot that was sort of in the middle, so you could take photos all around you.  Popular spot, quite a few other photographers joined us as well. We stayed there for about an hour and a half.  I didn’t really move, just had my tripod in the same place.  It was an interesting thing to do.  I usually move heaps, but not this time.  I did turn the head on the tripod and took other photos around me.

I have done some HDRs with Photomatix Pro, but I have also done some of the images with just the single one.  You can tell in the gallery which ones are HDR because in the file name for each one will have “hpm” in it.  I have also done some where the images are very similar, one is a HDR and the other not.  I wanted to compare the two.  In some cases I think the HDR worked well, and in others not.

Here is the gallery for you.  I hope you are enjoying your weekend and managing to go out and take lots of photos.

Looking at the Singular

When my photography friend first stated coming out with me she was always saying to me, “why do you take so many photo”.  She was referring to the clicking of my camera, as I would take at least 3 images of each thing.  She was referring to the bracketed shots I take.  So I explained to her why.  I used to do it because every image I did I would put it through the Photomatix and make a HDR image. My processing has evolved, and I look back on a lot of my HDR images and think, mmm, maybe better to work just on a single image.  So I don’t do many HDRs anymore, though I still take a series of bracketed shots, you never know right, but also because I never know which image will give me the exposure that I really want.

LeanneCole-scdocklands-3hpm5001So today I thought we would look at some images that I did a few months ago that I did make into HDR images and then see what happens if I process them with just one image.  The above image is the HDR, processed with Photomatix.  It looks fine, but sometimes I find that HDR images can get a kind of brilliance to them, it is hard to describe.  They can also get horrible halos, which I hate, and the colours can become very saturated.  This one doesn’t have the last two, but it does have that brilliance.

LeanneCole-docklands-5002So I thought, how would I process this just from a single image.  I choose the image that was taken 1 stop under, and went from there.  I remembered my art training and thought about what I wanted to be the most important aspect of the image and worked from there.  I have lost a lot of the detail in the image, but that doesn’t matter, it has become something different, well I hope it has.

LeanneCole-docklands-5002-2Then, because it is my image, I decided to try it with some textures on it.  I quite like the effect of the textures.  It does something else to it.

I find myself often looking at my bracketed shots, and sometimes I do the HDR image, then process a single image, and see which one I like more.  It is an interesting idea.  Sometimes I do both and I know the HDR is so much better and go with that, then other times, I delete the HDR.  I am becoming pickier with what I want from my images.  I imagine this is something that will go on for as long I am doing photography.

I have done two others, will put the ones above and the others in a gallery for you to look at and compare.  I wonder if you will agree with me.

Weekends Wanderings – The Sun Sets on the Mallee

Anyone who has been following my blog for a while would know that I love going up to the Mallee to take photos.  I have also just come back from there, and how many photos did I take, almost none.  It was a different trip, and we were really only there for a couple of days.  I did go out once.

LeanneCole-scmallee-3hpm6226-1Last year when I went at the same time I got a fantastic sunset with my phone camera, and thought I would try with my good camera this time.

The above image was taken opposite to the sunset.  I don’t know what I did to it while I was processing it, but it is an interesting effect.  There was more colour on this side than where the sunset was.

LeanneCole-scmallee-5hpm6253I thought the clouds would be great and create a great sunset.  They didn’t.

LeanneCole-scmallee-5hpm6263This is probably as colourful as it got.

LeanneCole-scmallee-5hpm6273Then it all started fading.  It was done.

We were there for about 30 minutes, and we didn’t get anything really.  It was very disappointing, but I suppose that is how it is sometimes.

Not a bad thing to do on the weekend, go out and see if you can catch a sunset.  Hopefully you will have better luck than me.

All images are HDR images processed with Photomatix Pro.

 

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