Friday, January 19, 2007

HDR - Back by Popular Demand

I thought since I love HDR photography so much I would write about it here.
Basically HDR photography is the process of taking three identical photographs, auto bracketing at different exposures, and blend them together. This enhances the shadows and light giving the photograph an almost painted like quality. Of course that all depends on the photographer and how they want that picture to look.
Reaching Down Before & After HDR
© 2005-2007 - Sam Lamp
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

As you can see from the image on the right it is a rather bland photograph. And when I process it using HDR technology it becomes alive, bright and vivid.
All rights reserved
East Road Mountain HDR Before & After
© 2005-2007 Sam Lamp
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

Now you may ask how I did this. Well there are a few ways. If you are really good at photoshop you can use that program and process it through there. I don't use photoshop, I'm not that good at it. :) But don't fear there is help out there for us who are photoshop illiterate! LOL It's called Photomatix You can download a trial version from there site. This is a very easy program. Even I can use it! hehehe OK enough of the silly jokes.

First lets back up a few steps to getting the pictures. First you are going to need to have a tripod or other stable surface to put your camera on. Thats a must! Even the slightest movement in a split second can ruin your picture set. Second your going to want o see if you camera does "auto bracketing" this features is great, it automatically takes 3 photos a stop a part one over one under and one exposure that is right. If your camera doesn't do this do fret you can do this manually if you are VERY careful when making the adjustments within your camera without moving it. It is very important that the camera not move. This will ruin the line up later on.

Lets talk a minute about what to take a picture of. Well if you look at my HDR set on flickr. As you can see I have taken hdr's of lots of things, buildings, cats, waterfalls. As you can see just about anything will look great, as long as it doesn't move! LOL

Now go out and get your pictures and then come back and we will finish.

Good you have Photomatix loaded on your computer and you have loaded your three pictures on your computer. You can do more than three exposures but I have never had much luck with it in the Photomatix program. But lots of people do it, and the process is the same no matter how many exposures you have.

1) Open photomatix
2) Click on "HDRI"
3) Select "generate HDR"
4) In the window click "browse"
5) select your photos
6) Once you have selected all the photos from that set click "ok"
7) Keep the first option selected & check "Align LDR"
8) Now don't upset your only half way there, here is the photo you have made, now comes with fun part
9) At the top click "HDRI"
10) move down to "tone mapping" and click
11) now in this resulting window you will see lots of sliders and drop down windows.
Now the easiest way to figure this out is to just jump in and start moving the
sliders around and you'll see the results right there. Adjust things until you get the look you like. This is purely personal so your on your own. :)
14) Once you do get the picture you like click "file" and "Save as" there you will be able to save your image as a jpg.

Well thats about it! I warn you though once you start you'll never look at things the same way! I would love to see your work after your done.

HDR using Photoshop CS2
For those of you that want to give photoshop a try here is a great tutorial.
I personally didn't care for the out come but you may have better luck.


Metlin said...

Those are some wonderful pictures!

I just recently discovered HDR and my problem has been not shaking the camera, but I just got a new tripod, so things seem to be looking good.

I guess to a great extent, what makes a good HDR also depends on how to adjust the tones, contrast and brightness of your final product. Any insights? :)

The Kilted Hippy said...

This is very cool! Thanks for sharing! I am going to have to try this soon!!