HDR – Details, Paint & Upholstery

Chevrolet Grain Truck - Edmonton, Alberta
Chevrolet Grain Truck – Edmonton, Alberta

The late forties-early fifties Chevrolet half-tonne grain truck is subject for this image and with Automatic Exposure Bracketing moving toward a final image becomes an exercise in creating a high dynamic range (HDR) shot. For me, unless shooting people within an event, my practice in creating most photos is to work with a tripod in manual (M) mode and to set the camera for the three settings of Automatic Exposure Bracketing (AEB) – the regular or average exposure, an exposure a stop down (a darker, low key exposure) and an exposure a stop above average (a lighter, high key exposure).

Focus counts – the manual focus on my Canon EOS 60D allows me to focus upon that part of the image needing clarity, but it does so allowing me to focus upon that portion of the subject in three magnifications using the display on the back of the camera: first, what I would see through the viewfinder – normal magnification, next at 10 x optical zoom and then at 15 x optical zoom. Each level of displayed magnification allows me to adjust focus with greater and greater and greater precision. Stability also counts in focusing on the subject; the camera fixed to a tripod ensures that the camera does not move and that resulting images are tack sharp, free from blur.

Creating the exposure, creates not one, but, the three AEB exposures in succession ( – , 0 , + ) when the shutter button is pressed. After the exposures are brought into Adobe Lightroom, I am able to use HDR Efex to combine the three exposures into one image that allows the combined exposure to become an image accommodating greater range of light – more similar to what the human eye can see. I like the way Photomatix does HDR; but, NiK Software’s HDR Efex is a more stable and flexible program.

So, today’s image is an HDR shot. In the next few days my intention will be to try an HDR image that combines a larger number of exposures and to see what happens along the way. I’m reminded that the Shutter Time with Sid and Mac podcast has a couple of excellent pointers for HDR shots (somewhere between episodes 15 and 23). Mac and his wife Kasia would most likely have me using HDR for shots combining landscape, cloud-work and sunsets/sunrises. As well, Trey Ratcliff is the photographer who seems to have done most with HDR or at least has written most substantially (perhaps most helpfully) about HDR; two weeks ago he was in Vancouver and aiming to take on someone as protégé for an evening photographing the city, the water, the landscape and the sky from the top of a well-situated, tall skyscraper. It would definitely have been fun to hang out together for an evening creating HDR images – watch out for him on Twitter at @TreyRatcliff .

Listening to – Peter Himmelmann’s ‘Mission of My Soul.’

Quotes to Inspire – (1) “[…] That’s what HDR does. It adds details, paint, and upholstery to the Photograph. It’s still a photograph, but now enhanced [….] — GusDoeMatik (2) “To me, it is better to “guess” at how something works, experiment, fail, guess again, fail, and keep repeating that process over and over again until you either figure it out or you discover a multiplicity of other cool tricks along the way.” ― Trey Ratcliff

4 thoughts on “HDR – Details, Paint & Upholstery

    1. Hey there, LB:

      I’ve had a go at creating HDRs this week while I’ve been on the road. This Chevy image was created on my laptop while traveling. The colours and tones as I see them now on my home monitor are a bit cooler than I’d like; they recall the moodiness found in the opening shots of that film with Nastasia Kinski from too many years ago – Tess of the D’Urbervilles. And, that narrative has me recall Thomas Hardy, the novel’s author, and his sharing/borrowing scenes and plot elements among/within his novels.

      An hour of photos with that Chevy, on this side of the barbed wire … something akin to a meditation. Good, good schtuff! 😉

  1. Just looking at stuff for my powershot to enable exposure bracketing. I fancy using this for some landscape shots when I am out in the hills. I went small again with a powershot sx230. I’m still learning what it can do. It works as it has full manual as well as a pretty good auto settings. I just found you can download a new firmware package (not from Canon) that enhances its abilities as well. I’ll let you know how that goes.

    Jim

    1. Hey there, Jim:

      One of the things I’m seeing in your mountain shots is high contrast of light to dark which your camera is trying to meter. If you can get the AEB to work, then your images, if you try them with HDR will see more of what your eye is seeing naturally. The firmware may have some compensating features as well.

      Take care … 😉

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