Increasing The Range……

Thursday 8th August 2013

I’ve been playing around with HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography recently – basically its a method where 3 or more shots of the same scene, at varying exposures, are captured, then combined using computer software, with the resulting image having a greater tonal range than a digital camera can capture in a single exposure. Its not an effect thats to everyones liking, especially if overdone – images can look very ugly.

Traditionally a tripod would be used, as the shots have to be identical – any movement between shots will be rendered as a blur – However, the HDR software that I use (Nik Software’s HDR-Efex) examines each image and attempts to line them up. If the photographer has a steady hand it is possible to capture images hand-held that give perfectly acceptable results.

So – I took a walk along the Walsall canal on a bright sunny day, with plenty of fluffy white clouds in a blue sky. All digital cameras struggle to capture scenes like this faithfully, as their sensors lack sufficient dynamic range to capture the full range of tones, from the darkest greys to the brightest whites. The photographer ends up having to compromise – either under-exposing to capture detail in bright object such as clouds (which has the unwanted side-effect of detail in darker areas of the image being lost), or over-exposing to capture detail in shadowy areas, which will cause bright areas in the frame to be “blown” (over exposed, and rendered white, losing all detail).

These are the results of my fooling around – each image is a composite of 3 shots taken at 2 stop intervals (-2EV, 0EV and +2EV) which were imported into Aperture and processed with the HDR-Efex plugin. As I’ve said, not everyone is a fan of this technique, particularly if it is overdone, which is quite often the case. I’m experimenting – I’d like to use the technique to get images that have way more detail and range of tones than a dSLR can capture in a single image, but still look natural. Its a balancing act, and its all to easy to fall – either overdoing it, or being too subtle . . . . .

Feel free to click on any image to view it in Flckr.

Walsall Canal From Rayboulds Bridge

Walsall Canal From Rayboulds Bridge

Rayboulds Bridge, Walsall Canal

Rayboulds Bridge, Walsall Canal

Moored Narrowboats on the Walsall Canal

Moored Narrowboats on the Walsall Canal

Walsall Canal at the Top Lock

Walsall Canal at the Top Lock

No.5 Lock, Walsall Canal

No.5 Lock, Walsall Canal

No.5 Lock, Walsall Canal

No.5 Lock, Walsall Canal

Walsall Canal above No.4 Lock

Walsall Canal above No.4 Lock

New Apartments at the Old Flour Mill, Walsall Canal

New Apartments at the Old Flour Mill, Walsall Canal

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About stevieboy378

In my 50th year. I'm a keen cyclist, walker, photographer, musician, TV watcher, XBox gamer, and all-round couch potato....
This entry was posted in Canals, Photography, walking, Walsall and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Increasing The Range……

  1. ziksby says:

    Excellent shots Steve, but there’s something about the vegetation …. a little too green perhaps. The other features, sky, clouds, water, buildings and boats all look fine. Could be my monitor settings of course.

    • stevieboy378 says:

      You’re quite right, Roger – the effect of blending 3 images causes all the colours to become over-saturated. I’ve only tinkered with the global saturation control thus far, and it is a delicate adjustment – if turned down slightly too much the whole image becomes dull. There are selective saturation adjustments in the software, but I’ve not gotten around to fiddling with those yet 🙂

  2. Great post Stevie. I shoot HDR with just one image these days and process the HDR with a plugin in LR. Saves acres of time and hassle.

    • stevieboy378 says:

      Thanks ! . . . . I thought about doing that, and have tried it on a few images, but isn’t it just a “pseudo-HDR” effect ?? – I was thinking that with 3 shots taken 2 stops apart you will actually be physically increasing the dynamic range of the camera, rather than just mimicking it ?? I could be wrong though, as I’m no expert 🙂

      • Spot on. Ive been using the single method for weddings with people and buildings. Trying to get them to stand still while you take 3 exposures is nigh on impossible. Its a good genre to explore I just wouldnt want too many brides to have albums filled with it. Keep up the good work!

      • stevieboy378 says:

        Cheers – it is an interesting effect, so long as it is subtle. I’m just looking to overcome the limited dynamic range of my 5D – especially with landscapes when I have to choose between noisy shadows or blown highlights. The HDR plugin requires a practised hand – as Roger mentioned some colours in the images look fine, while others are over-saturated. I’ll keep playing around – if nothing else its great fun 🙂

  3. mcsharry4 says:

    Is there a setting on most DSLR cameras to take these three photos? I have a Nikon D40, and was wondering if it was possible for me to do this kind of thing for free (in regards to the software) too.

    • stevieboy378 says:

      More than likely – on my Canon its called AEB (auto exposure bracketing) . . . . . I also set the cameras drive mode to continuous. Then all I do is hold down the shutter button, and the camera fires off 3 shots – one underexposed, one correctly exposed and one overexposed . . . . . . As for software – I’m not sure. Some editing software has the capability to combine multiple exposures, some, such as Aperture, need external plugins. A google for “free HDR plugins” may help there 🙂

      • mcsharry4 says:

        thanks a lot, will get googling tonight, as i think it could look brilliant if i took enough time to get it right 🙂

  4. Pingback: Along the “Cut” …. | Life At 50mm

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