Friday, September 25, 2009


I'm terrible at explaining photography terminology. The tall one has occasionally asked me to define certain terms and I have to look them up because I have no clue. When it comes to HDR, I'm no different. I'm aware that it means High Dynamic Range, but I'd like to refer you to this page for a full definition...because I can. Yay internets.

I've tried HDR before (which is the blending of multiple shots together of different exposures with photo manipulation software to bring out the highlights and shadows in a balanced way, in case you didn't bother to click on the link I gave you. OOH! There it is again!) but the results weren't exactly what I was looking for.

follow me

The first time I tried it was on an alley in my neighborhood. The shadows on the right side of the photo really obscured the detail and color in the building so I merged three shots together to create the above photo. It was also taken with my little Canon A510 point and shoot so I was pretty excited that I was able to make it. Not the most exciting photo though.

grey day

My second try was with my Canon XT. I merged 6 shots to create the above photo. I was still learning and with the correct exposure and perhaps the help of a filter I probably could have made that shot without merging multiple exposures, but what did I know. I was figuring this all out as I went, and that's the fun in learning! However, I still wasn't creating the fun HDR shots I'd see on other sites. I kept thinking "how the heck did they do that?" even though I read a million tutorials on the subject.

sun flare

Finally I get my new Nikon D90 and I'm thinking, YES! I can try this now! I can get nice crisp shots! I'll blow them all away! (ok, I really didn't think that last part, but I was excited nonetheless). However, I still didn't understand how to work with curves and tonal contrasts in Photoshop so when attempted I would get pastel like saturated colors and strange bands of light across the screen.

first HDR try

I went out to Discovery Park with Casey the evening before to show him the place, take a sunset walk and hear about his first day at Seattle U. I took a few frames, but I knew I needed to hang out for a while to really get what I wanted. The next night I headed out at sunset and parked myself on a bench with my manual in hand and proceeded to teach myself about bracketing and night shooting. When I got back I put the first set of frames into photoshop and proceeded to manipulate the colors to achieve the effect I was looking for. Yet again I got the pastel over saturation. GRRRR!! Although I like the color of the grass and tree, the sunset still wasn't the look I wanted to achieve.

second HDR attempt

Honestly I'm not the biggest fan of the overdone HDR photography that is seen on the web now. It's fun to look at, but really I'm looking for something realistic. To bring out the entire dynamic range of a photo without the surreal look. I decided to go at it a different way, and achieved the above photo. Much, much better. I wish that I had a better composed shot, but the point of today was learning so that when I'm out in the field I can spend more time on composition. I've even learned more about what I've done wrong in the above photo but I'm still yay about it.

3rd attempt

So can I do it at twilight? Me thinks I can! I like this one, I really like the color of the moon on the water and when viewed big you can actually see some star trails of the constellation Sagittarius! Which is awesome considering I'm basically shooting from about 5 miles outside a major city.

I learned, I grew, I ran, I got scared, I got cold, I saw stars. Can't wait to try this again!

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