HDR Tests

Its been literally years since I’ve played around with HDR (I am not going togo into all of the details of how to do it as I cover it on my Photoshop Crash Course – Photoshop Crash Course DVD, but wanted to play around with it again, so today I set out to find something that had significantly dark shadows, and work the sun into it- all of this without the use of filters.

Yesterday, I used a 3-Layer Technique, today I took 4 exposures on RAW using a 5Dii with a 16-35mm 2.8 L, f5.0, ISO 100, bracketing the exposure at 1/5, 1/25, 1/200, 1/1600. This allowed me to capture nearly all of the detail from the shade of the gazebo, to the sun peeking out of the clouds. Shooting in JPG or RAW alone a single images doesn’t have enough dynamic range to do it all:

1/51/251/2001/1600Something I don’t really like about HDR, is that it is often very tricky to get a “Photorealistic” image. Yes, you can do it, but it typically requires a lot of finessing, tweaking, re-tweaking, layering of original images, etc, this was about the best I could do in a quick 5 minute edit in terms of “photorealism” (when you compare it with the 3 layer technique, it just doesn’t look that great.So something that is very common, is to take the layered image and run it through a tone-mapping program like “Photomatix”. This is typically the result, giving it a painted gritty look which is very popular. Still to do it real justice, it takes a tremendous amount of time to finesse and massage the image into a masterpiece (which this isn’t, this was just a test).

3 Layer Sunset Test

omposition meant that I wouldn’t be able to use my gradiated filters, but I still wanted to capture both the shape of the sun, as well as the waves, sand and trees. This presents a number of HUGE problems because both the waves and leaves were moving around so much that HDR was almost out the window (I did try it and it looked AWFUL).

This first shot is a single JPG, and you can see that if we are exposing for the sky the detail in the sand, leaves and trees is underexposed.

Canon 7D f5.0, 1/2000, 320
I bracketed the shots thinking I could HDR the three layers, but as I said it looked awful.

A second way you can get around this is to “paint” the 3 layers together. Its a little more involved, but sometimes you can get nice results. This was not one of those times:

3 Layers “Painted Together”If you look carefully in the leaves, there are a lot of ghosts and shadows. So essentially, the result is not that great.

How what is the best way to get an HDR type shot on a subject that is mostly moving? Answer is coming soon…..

The Rum Diary

Boring in a way words cannot describe. I am utterly shocked Johnny Depp was in it. I would have walked out after 20 minutes, but I kept on thinking, “Its a Johnny Depp movie…it has to get better.” It didn’t. In fact, I don’t even know if this movie is a story. How in the world can so many producers and executive producers think something like this was a good idea? I dont get it.

Shwe Kyin – Light Festival

Once we had the sky-cam rigged up, and ready we went back down to the river, hopped on a boat and started getting ready for the night shoot. We were so far away from everyone that I wanted to get more reach and decided to go with the Canon 7D + Canon 100-400 f4.5-5.6 L IS Zoom combo.

Something I immediately realized was that this particular set up is great for “up close and personal shots” (which I discuss on all of my Camera training DVDs). You still need to be somewhat close, but the reach lets you get right in there without them knowing what you are doing. Not possible with a 24-70 2.8 or even a Canon 70-200 2.8 IS L . This combo was also really great for getting passing boats, I tried to pan at the same speed which they passed and it seemed to work great. It was also fantastic for getting shots of people on shore. All round the 100-400 proved to be the best for shooting from the boat. You can see this guys mouth is all red as he was chewing some type of local spice root. It was very common, I guess that is their version of bubble gum. One thing I found fascinating was how they bathed….with their clothes on! It was just how they did it. Taking a bath in the river naked would be a no-no. Bathers would also wash their clothing the same time they themselves cleaned up. It was pretty hot there so, if you have ever felt like just jumping in a pool with all of your clothes on, this is probably the same reasoning they use. We even go a few shots with the sky cam, and this one was the most interesting. Combo is the Canon 5DII + Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye Most of the time I had the Canon 16-35mm 2.8 L on my Canon 5DII for wider shots….As night fell, candles boats were lit and placed into the river….Soon fireworks were going off and I quickly realized that we wouldn’t be able to get any decent shots from the boat, as it was rocking way too much and I needed to use a shutter speed of at least a second or longer to get the effect I wanted.

We had the boat pull over on the opposite side of the river and I had to jump with everything I had to land on try ground. Poky followed me, we set up the tri-pod and I went to work. I cannot tell you how thankful I was to know enough about the technical stuff to get set up fast – the fireworks didnt last very long at all and if I was slow, I would have never gotten the shot. This was my favorite shot of as far as fire works go:

Canon 5DII , Canon 16-35mm 2.8 L L Lens, On Tripod, 6.3, 2.0″, ISO 160

It was soon too dark for any of the 2.8 lenses, so I grabbed my Canon 50mm 1.4 . It was the only low light lens I had, sure wish I would have brought my Canon 24mm 1.4 L .As the night went on the fireworks and candles faded and we decided to wrap it up for the night….Typical side “street” in Shwe Kyin. Some families had electricity and would just sit outside their homes continuing to sell what they could…(the “guns” are toys)…but the main street was abuz with electricity and people. It was a long, tiring day…almost immediately after we started taking pictures on the main street, the police asked that we go inside for the night for our own protection and we did so.