Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘HDR images’

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.

Trying the Same Again

A friend of mine, who is also a keen photographer, was saying to me recently how much she loved one of my photos and really wanted to see if she could get the same or similar image.  She wanted me to take her where I had taken the photo.

scmelbourne-hdr1I am sure many of you will remember this one.  It was my header shot for some time.  It is funny how the memory plays tricks.  We could both remember it as having a sunset behind the city.  When we went out last weekend to capture the image, we were so disappointed that there wasn’t a sunset.  Then I looked up the photo again and was so surprised to see there hadn’t been a sunset here either.  I think it must have been the colours that were in the final image.

The above shot was taken almost 2 years ago.  It is a HDR image, I was doing so many of them back then.  I still like the image, but I had always wanted to go back and always meant to, but somehow never got around to it.  It was nice to do it again.

We were disappointed.  There was no real sunset, it was quite pathetic really.  There were hardly any trains.  There weren’t many lights on in the city buildings.  So I know we will go back again.  Here is what I got.

LeanneCole-traintocity-4244It is quite a different looking image.  I know I said there were no trains, it was true. I have taken all the photos I had with trains and put them on one image.  I like the effect.  This image is certainly earlier than the previous one, lots of street lights and things haven’t come on yet.  I did make the most of the sunset that we got.

Things have changed since I took the first one.  I do have more experience.  The first one was taken without a tripod, the second with.  I just didn’t have it with me the first time.  I have a new camera and a new wide angle lens.  My knowledge of Photoshop and compositing has grown a lot.

I think it was a great thing to do to go back after two years and see how different how I would make an image. I still love the first one, but I also like the second one, for different reasons.  I will go back again, we are planning on doing it another evening, when daylight savings finishes, but we will go back during the week, see if we can get more of the peak hour trains and the city going into early evening.

I will put both in a gallery for you to look at on their own.

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.

Working Out New Things

Since I first started watching KelbyOne I have learned so many new things, and one of things that I have discovered is a different way of doing architectural images.  I have said before about the idea of using more than one image and doing some different things. So last week I went out for dinner with a friend and then we went and sat outside the The Centre, Ivanhoe, or what used to be the old town hall while I took photos.

We sat there for just over an hour and a half as the sun went down.  I took over 200 images, though most were bracketed.  I set the camera up on the tripod and every 10 or so minutes took 9 bracketed shots.  I was hoping for a good sunset, but you know I didn’t get one, do I ever.

LeanneCole-ivanhoecentre-0045This was one of the first photos I took, the sun is setting behind the building.

LeanneCole-ivanhoecentre-0243This was one of the last.  The sun had set and the lights were on.

I wanted to see if I could get something in between.  I did a whole series of HDR’s and then took a bit of this one, and a bit of that one, then I blended some bits, blurred others, and just experimented until I got this.

LeanneCole-ivanhoecentre-3I am happy with it for my first time doing this.  There are definitely things I need to learn how to do better, and work out when to use HDR and when not to.  It was an interesting thing to do.

I think I got the effect I was hoping for, but I would like to go back and try it again.  I would like to see if I can get a sunset behind the building, lots of oranges and reds pushing up behind the building.  That might make it more interesting.

The angle of the camera wasn’t great and if I went back I might see about changing that as well.  Maybe have the camera higher up on the tripod.

These sorts of photos are different for me and I would really like to do more.  I do love the KelbyOne site but their posts on architecture are very limited, and the ones they have are for people who have spent lots of money on lights and such.  Maybe when I figure it out I will do my own little videos.  It is something I want to do in the future. One day, maybe.

I am putting the three images into a gallery so you can look at them individually.

Tomorrow is the black and white challenges, I got lots of entries, so I am looking forward to showing them to you.

Playing with Escalators

The other day when I went into Southern Cross Train Station to take photos I knew that I would play around a lot more with some of the images.  The images I showed you were just single images with a bit of quick editing done through Camera Raw.  There was so much contrast in the images that it was hard to show the station to its best potential.

After watching how Trey Ratcliff does his HDR images on KelbyOne I decided that I would have to apply some of what he does to his images and see what I could come up with.

I did start by doing a HDR, but it isn’t all the HDR image, and have done many other things to it as well.  It is my first attempt at doing something like this, and I’m not disappointed.  I think if you go back to the original image that I showed you on Sunday, I think I have improved it.  The question is have I done that much to it?

One of the biggest obstacles I had was that because I really didn’t want to use my tripod too much there, I had to hand hold.  It is quite a dark space, which then meant I had to turn up the ISO, so in the dark areas there is noise.  So it meant that I couldn’t do much with those.  I think I need to suck it up and just use the tripod.  Or go somewhere like that and take photos like scouting a place, then plan on going back to get shots that you think will really work, use the tripod to get the possible exposure.

The other problem I had on Sunday was that we did leave the station and went out and took some photos, but I completely forgot about my ISO.  Now those images are going to be grainy as well.  I need to get myself a little checklist.  I am always forgetting things like that.


Trying HDR Darkroom 3

I used to do a lot of HDR photography, but I have to admit in the last few months I seem to rarely do them.  Well, that isn’t true, I will often think about it, do it, compare it with the non HDR and then often delete the HDR.  It doesn’t always make the image better and I have been learning how to work out which image is better as a HDR and when it is better to use the straight image.  

A couple of months ago I got an email from Everimaging asking me if I would do a review of their latest version of HDR Darkroom 3.  I have reviewed its predecessor and can remember thinking that it wasn’t bad and that it could be quite good for people who were starting to do HDRs.


It’s appearance is quite nice and seems very obvious what to do with it.  Though one of the things I found really weird was not being able to close one image when I was finished to begin another.  It seems as soon as you press New HDR then the previous one if saved is closed for the new one.  It isn’t a big deal but I did find that a little strange.

At first glance it looks like there aren’t a lot of options to change anything in your images, as when you open it there only seems to be a couple of adjustments, and lots of presets.  However, if you look under the adjustments there is a button with Advanced written on it and you can do many other things to it.

hdrdarkroomIf you look on the right above you can see lots of adjustments and lots of drop down windows.

If I had one criticism of the adjustments, well two really, they are very touchy, and you can end up with something very horrible very fast.  You really need to be careful.  The other one would be, that they don’t always seem to default to zero, so if you make any adjustments, and want to start again, it can be hard to get it back to where it was, though that isn’t the case with all them.

Waiting for the software to make the HDR initially is a slow process, you can go and make yourself a coffee while it is happening.  Though, this is no different really to any software that makes HDR images.

ivanhoecentre-20131127-2034_hdrdarkroomI went back through my photos, and since I nearly always take at least three photos of any given subject, I had a few things to choose from.  Above is the Town Hall in Ivanhoe, The Centre.  It has done quite a good job, and while I can see some grey areas, I am sure most wouldn’t notice them.  I don’t think the dark areas have been picked up well, so I decided to look for an image that definitely was a lot harder to photograph.

LC2-1157_hdrdarkroomWith this one, it was quite a dark image, the correct exposure image, as I was coming up from a tunnel.  It has got a lot of the dark areas.  I haven’t done anything else to these images, so they are the raw images process in HDR Darkroom and nothing else.  It has done a fair job here.

I did mention that there are a lot of presets that you can use.  I did go through them, but they are not something I ever use.  I think HDR can be very overdone and very easily can turn into something very weird.  I never use the presets, though it can be fun to go through them and see what they do to your image.

It is interesting using different software and I think for this one, my results would be the same as I previously said, if you are new to HDR, and want to play around with and don’t have a lot of money the HDR Darkroom 3 could be perfect for you.  It costs around $60 so maybe half the price of other HDR software, not sure.  It will process your RAW files as well, so need to worry about taking photos in RAW.

If you are interested in trying it out you can find it here Everimaging, they always provide a free trial period, though not quite sure how long the trial is for.  I think it is worth trying the free trial.

My conclusion would be that if you are used to doing HDR’s with other software, you probably won’t like this as much.  However, if you are new and won’t to give it a go, I think you will have a lot of fun with it and don’t have to pay a lot for it.

I did do some others and I am going to put some more images in a gallery so you can see them a little larger.


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.