HDR - is this what to expect?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by VirtualRain, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #1
    When I was in Hawaii last month, I came across this falls (albeit short on water) with a cave behind it and a bright partly cloudy sky. Knowing it was near impossible to expose the whole scene accurately, I bracketed the shot at +/-2 with the intent of using this to learn about HDR processing.

    Tonight I combined the three RAW images together in Photomatix using the "Create HDR Image" option, left the sliders on default (adjusting any of them only seemed to make things worse) then I later imported the resulting TIFF image into Aperture to sharpen and add a bit of saturation.

    The result seems to better capture the scene as I remember it although it does look somewhat artificial to my eyes. Although I'm pleased to see that the sky has a bit of definition and blue and the cave is not completely black.

    Questions: First, any thoughts on the outcome? Next, what are the key sliders to adjust to improve the result?

    I had to apply a lot more sharpening than usual as it seemed the HDR image was soft or perhaps even fuzzy due to inaccurate alignment of the three images? Is that normal? I assume a tripod might improve this?

    Naturally, I guess I have a lot of reading to do... if anyone knows any quick tricks or has any gems of advice, I'm all ears (or eyes in this case).

    Here's the result and the three original exposures...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. todd2fst4u macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2008
    #2
    a tripod would be a good place to start. although some movement of the leaves could still happen, the pictures should align better.

    also you should try bracketing a bit more. none of your exposures have much detail in the sky.
     
  3. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #3
    This and your lowest is not low enough. You could have and should have gone a good 2 stops or more less on the light as the highlights are still blown.
     
  4. robj macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Location:
    Madrid, Spain
    #4
    I have tried to do some experiments with HDR and I cannot make anything cool.

    When I look photos like this: [​IMG]

    and then look my photo (or the photo of this post) it seems We're not using the same HDR method :D.

    I suposse that it's not as easy as take different photographs with different exposures :)
     
  5. 88888888 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    #5
    Is there a program that can make an HDR from the photos?
     
  6. svndmvn Guest

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2007
    Location:
    Italy
    #6
    photomatix is one.
    I agree on the fact that you should have gone lower on the underexposed one, not having a well exposed sky isn't that fixable..
    also, there isn't much wrong with the correctly exposed one, no need for HDR, I'd say. Also, you shot with f/5.6, you could have tried a bit of a longer exposer at, say, f/8.. I also agree on the tripod advice... and shoot in RAW, you could have probably gotten the same result from one single photo, some dialing of the highlights and shadows etc
     
  7. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #7
    Hawaii

    I took some shots from that EXACT same position earlier this winter!

    My sister lives in Hilo, and said that waterfall normally is ROARING. Its a shame, it was all dried up this year. I went walking on the dried up river stones and found the biggest freak tadpole I have ever imagined seeing.

    Where else did you shoot down there?
     
  8. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    Where am I???
    #8
    Ok, first things first; the results you're getting are not good. I'm surprised you think this looks only "somewhat" artificial. To me it looks completely artificial. I very rarely see cyan and pure white skies and purple fringing around everything.

    Now, that said, I will say that you've chosen a subject matter here that is, actually, amenable to HDR (versus the usual "grey-subject-on-a-grey-day" subject we get in the "first try at HDR" threads that show up every couple of weeks or so).

    The first thing you absolutely must do is make sure that your bracketing captures the entire dynamic range. In this case, you're probably overexposing the sky by at least two stops, even in the lowest exposure. A good way of ensuring this is to take two sets of bracketed exposures. Set your base exposure to -2EV, and then take +/- 2EV from there, giving you -4, -2, 0 EV. Then set your base exposure to +2EV and repeat, giving you +4, +2, 0EV. Now you have 5 different images (-4, -2, 0, +2, +4) that cover 8 stops of dynamic range; this should be sufficient to cover most scenes. If you need more DR than this, set your exposure to -3EV and repeat; this will give you 10 stops of DR in total (from -5 to +5EV).

    The second thing you have to do is use a tripod, a remote shutter release cable, and mirror lockup. This is the only way to ensure sharp captures.

    Another good tip is to composite your HDR with the original shots. For instance, skies sometimes look pretty bad in HDR (too much noise, halos, etc). So, what you can do is open your final tone mapped image in PS along with the image in which the sky is properly exposed, and then make a composite of the two; HDR for everything else except the sky.

    Producing excellent HDR results is hard, and certainly demands a lot more time than just loading the images into Photomatix and hitting "export". Capture the entire DR, use a tripod, release cable and mirror lockup, and composite where needed.
     
  9. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #9
    Thanks guys. Great advice. I'm on it! ;)

    Cool! Not far from the falls was this most amazing Banyan tree... somewhat reminded me of the tree from Avatar!

    [​IMG]

    There was also the active volcano (this took a LOT of tweaking in Aperture)...

    [​IMG]

    And the lava tube...

    [​IMG]
     
  10. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #10
    Neat!

    The volcano shot and the lava tube shot are pretty good! and yeah, that tree is CRAZY! Not trying to Hijack your thread, but below I attached a few HDR shots I took in HI. They are VERY lightly HDR'd, meaning I kept the original +0 EV shot and overlaid my final HDR image, lowering the opacity of the HDR to about 30-40%. The way I look at it, the best HDR shots are the ones that you can't tell they are HDR. That is the whole point of it, to see it as the eye sees it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Long story short: Hawaii is my ABSOLUTE favorite place to shoot, and as a matter of fact, I am starting saving up to try to move down there within a few years. It is the most incredible place.
     
  11. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #11
    I think you just volunteered to write a tutorial on how to do this! :p :D
     
  12. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    Where am I???
    #12
    This is an excellent approach, and shows how you need not simply accept what Photomatix gives you as the final product.

    The only thing I'd add is the use of layer masks in PS; opacity is great for mixing the two images in their entirety, but if you want certain parts of the image to show through more than others, layer masks are the way to go.
     
  13. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #13
    GREAT idea.

    That is a fantastic idea. I have been looking for ways to drive traffic to my new portfolio/photo blog site, and I NEVER thought of writing tutorials.

    Hopefully this weekend I can get around to it!

    And Edge100 is right, layer masks are the way to go, although I am guilty of not using them enough. I guess I have more a run-n-gun, overly destructive photoshop style :eek:

    Use layer masks and smart adjustments!
     
  14. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    Where am I???
    #14
    Tutorials and product reviews will drive traffic for sure; except it will mainly consist of other photographers.
     
  15. MattSepeta macrumors 65816

    MattSepeta

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2009
    Location:
    375th St. Y
    #15
    Right

    Good point.

    but I have a co-worker that is seriously pro at SEO helping me out, so I need to have some base traffic in the first place to get my images and posts to show high in google search results, right?

    I am pretty noobish at internetz :confused:
     
  16. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    May 14, 2002
    Location:
    Where am I???
    #16
    Good point, and something I had overlooked. Getting a lot of hits, from any source, will help your Google ranking, which will help you get hits from potential clients.

    SEO is a mystery to me.
     
  17. VirtualRain thread starter macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #17
    Link backs are super important in SEO... and if you have good tutorials, you will get people linking to them from all over the place!

    I'm looking forward to it! :)
     

Share This Page