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Another HDR attempt

Discussion in 'Landscapes, Architecture, and Cityscapes' started by Terri French, Jul 16, 2008.

  1. I'm reading a book called Master HDR Photography by Michael Freeman. The book is interesting and helping me to better understand what I am doing. But, I'm not sure whether or not the information is coming through as improvement in my photos.

    In the part of the book on capturing the photos he says that the darkest image should be one where there is no highlight clipping. Then you should take a series of images 2 stops apart until there is one where the left edge of the histogram is in the center of the graph. I used those guidelines in helping me decide which of the nine images I exposed at the following scene would be used in the HDR. I only used 4 of the 9 images, leaving out the darkest and brightest ones. I think I got a bit more realistic result than I have been getting.

    Although, my images were only 1 stop apart rather than the 2 stops he suggests.

    The result looks fairly similar to the best exposed of the nine except that I was able to bring back highlight detail in the sky.

    MY HDR version

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    One of 9 original images with the best exposure straight out of the camera.

    View attachment 222180
  2. Hi Terri,

    I really like the looks of this attempt. Your HDR gives that "I am there" look while the original single image is nice (if you PP it) yet does have the life of the HDR.

    I would agree with the basic guidance Freeman offers, but I have found the difference in stop range often is 0.7-1 rather than 2. Really depends upon the scene dynamic range IMO. To make HDR (and panoramics), I use PTGuiPro and have found it to do a quite good job once "I made friends with it." :smile: Also, I noticed that you tossed the least and most exposed images. I found this approach often gives better results as well ... too much information degrades the resultant HDR image it seems.

    Wish I had a nice scene like that of yours to shoot in my area! Hope you post more HDR images Terri.

  3. Barry,
    I think that not using the brightest and darkest images have helped, too. I'm going to keep experimenting. Thanks for chiming in here. I will watch for your HDR images as well.
  4. Your HDR has much more life in the foreground flowers, mountains and shadows, and a wee bit more detail in the clouds. Seems very natural to my eye and taste (many HDR attempts are very fake looking). Though perhaps a 1/2 stop less for the clouds could work.
    Disclosure: I don't HDR-yet!!!! I'm just reporting my reactions. Cheers.
  5. yamo


    Jun 28, 2007
    Santa Cruz, CA

    Greetings. I like your HDR version. The detail in the trees and in the trees and treeline on the mountains is enhanced in an appealing way.

    What I find myself doing, when I look at HDR, is to try to "explain" the picture to myself. Usually, I fail along the lines of why is this in shadow while that is in full sun, where is the sun in relation to the image anyway (and leave the picture with my head hurting).

    What I can't explain (easily) in your HDR is why are the mountains not in full sun? Which leads to a little difficulty in placing the sun... But for your HDR one can come up with a plausible explanation of the mountains being cloud covered, and the foreground in an opening in the clouds. Note that in the non-HDR image the need for explanation doesn't present itself (at least to me).

    Anyway, just some thoughts...


  6. This is possibly one of the most realistic HDRs I've seen. The saturation looks very much like what you'd get from Velvia 50 (though not exactly).
  7. Terri, I like the HDR version (an unusual statement for me:wink:) . However, there is nothing about your "best exposed" version that couldn't be made equal to the HDR version.
    I've seen the recommendations for large numbers of bracketing exposures, and wonder "Why?" -- just because it can be done? Two shots (one for sky and one for everything else) or three (an extra for the dark areas) -- that I can understand. In my opinion, too many shots is a bit like "equalizing" the histogram -- the resulting image tends to be tonally flat, and the tonal levels and saturation levels tend to be out of synch.
  8. yamo


    Jun 28, 2007
    Santa Cruz, CA

    Just some thoughts here... It strikes me that HDR isn't so different than what I do by hand using multiple curves layers and masking to apply a different curve to different tonal areas and specific portions of an image (see recent california fire thread). HDR software applies an automatic way of selective application by drawing from multiple images at different exposures (read this as different tonal mappings). Having more mappings, I suspect, allows the HDR software more options for its automated process, while the total image information used may be "capturable" in fewer images. A trade-off seems to be the effort in taking lots of images and using automated HDR software, or fewer images (one or two) and devoting the effort to post-processing by hand.


  9. Thanks, Nick. It's so nice to get feedback as I try to learn. It would be easy to darken up the clouds. I usually get them too dark so I tried to lighten them this time.

    Thanks, Yamo. Glad you think it isn't too unrealistic.

    Thank you, Shane. I've seen some artsy HDR's that I really like, but for me, I want my photos to look realistic. Glad you like it.

    Bob, I agree with everything you just said. There is more than one way to do things, which makes it fun.

    You are so much more knowledgeable than me in Photoshop. I need the more automated system. But, I agree that a person could probably do this same thing in Photoshop. I saw your fire picture and agree that what you did was pretty amazing!!
  10. No argument, Yamo, but I read "more options" as more chances for machine error. It's easy for the computer to pull apart each image, pixel by pixel -- it's quite something else to re-assemble the pixels in a manner that has meaning as perceived by the photographer. Your method involves human oversight (and your images reflect that). I'm not against using partially automated processes, I just think that, in many cases, too much data is being thrown at the machine with little or no understanding or feeling for how that information is being used.

    Start simple and build upon experience.

    And, thanks again Terri for sharing this image and your observations on HDR processing. You've made this one good by applying the same sensitivity used with all of your images.
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