Thursday, December 01, 2011

It's HDR Thursday

For those of you who really hate HDR's, there's nothing to see here, move along.

OK, well just for you, here's a non-HDR shot to look at. I try to have something for everybody.

The lights outside the Red Umbrella Inn, out of focus. I recently participated in a competition where images had to be out of focus and it gave me this idea.

Groupon link
Do you know what Groupon is? They're active in many countries including US and Canada, you get some phenomenal deals from companies who are looking for new clients or to fill quiet times. Often they have to have enough participants to activate a deal, but when they do, you get some crazy prices. The latest deal I read about is $115 worth of printing at Photobooks Canada for $39.

It costs nothing to join and use Groupon. Click this link for more information and to sign up. BTW, I get referral credits if you use that link (nothing but full disclosure here!).

Have you ever used Extended ASCII (ANSI) characters?
So, like, what are they? Well suppose you wanted to put in your 2¢ worth. Or you really want to use the © symbol instead of typing out "copyright" or "(C)". Or you want to write about the temperature outside (it's -4°C in Bancroft as I write this). Get the picture?

It's pretty easy, especially if you're on a regular keyboard (a little tougher on a laptop but do-able, and I'm really not sure if it works on a Mac — someone write me back and tell me if it works.

I wrote up how to do it on my tech blog here. And I created a pdf page you can print out and put it in among the rest of the clutter on your desktop so you can find the codes when you want to use them. I like this one, by the way: ■

Now, it's about HDR's.
I'm stretching my memory to try to recall who used this analogy: it might have been Rob Stimpson, or maybe Dr. Ron, but I can't remember. Anyway, consider that you're a carpenter, and you've just acquired the world's greatest hammer. It doesn't mean that everything you build needs to be done with a hammer and nails — sometimes you can use screws or glue — but from time to time, a hammer and nails is the best solution. So it is with HDR's.

Some pictures scream out to be processed as HDR's. Sometimes, you need to do extreme processing, sometimes you can be subtle. And by the way, I include toning single images with packages like Topaz Adjust 5, or any of the HDR programs that allow it. The shot inside Gwartzman's shop a couple of days ago is an example of a single toned image. Where was I???

Oh yeah. Yesterday, I was driving to Minden (with a stop at the Subaru dealer to fix a slow leak in a tire), and the light was spectacular. There was a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow (song lyric!). Just as you come into Minden, there's a footbridge over the Gull River that called to me. Here it is:

This literally SCREAMED "HDR" at me. I ran it in Nik HDR Efex, then added some sharpening and detail in CS5.

Actually, on the way into Minden, I saw this scene and needed to stop and shoot it.

Although this is technically an HDR (5-shot bracket), I didn't do much to it, I just accepted the default "Compressor" preset in Photomatix. Then I tweaked it with Topaz A5, just a little tad to add a bit more detail.

What's interesting about this shot is that I changed the White Balance from "Auto" to 9000°K and it made the picture really jump off the screen at you (well, at me, anyway. You have to tell me if you agree or not).

At the Subaru dealer, I had some time to kill while waiting for my car. The light was spectacular, as I said. The sunset was golden on the trees and the fresh snow was beautiful (I won't think that way a month from now!). Here are a couple of images I did. This lighting really works in HDR

One last shot. Again, although this is a 5-shot HDR, it really only added the detail to the sky, the trees looked pretty good in a single individual image. The only other thing I did was some hi-pass sharpening to bring out some of the detail. Look how the setting sun hits the ridge in the background! It really did look like this:

So to those who thought I was going off in new directions, I am… but I never said I was going to give up shooting the kind of images I love, especially now that I have a new and wonderful hammer!

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