Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sunrise on the High Plains – Sky Watch Friday VIII

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An Exercise in High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography

The following is a photograph taken on our drive from Texas to Alaska and back. In fact it was the first photo made on the trip. It was made on the grasslands of the Texas High Plains at about 3000’ altitude. The scene shows grasslands with a tree-lined creek and a brushy fencerow. There are a few farmhouses on a dirt road, visible in the distance through the lifting fog.

You will have to click on the photographs to see the detail and dynamic range.

It was made with a telephoto just after sunrise. The sky was uniformly cloudy as the lifting fog burned off. Ansel Adams would have said that compromises would have to be made in the exposure since the picture ranged from really bright(zone 8) to almost pure blacks(zone 2).

The human eye is a fantastic instrument, since it can take in a scene like this and send it to the brain with all the details intact and then store it for future memory recall. Whereas the camera will struggle to capture all the detail in a single photographic exposure. Even with matrix metering, it is an average and an approximation at best. As a photographer, we take several varying exposures and hope one will be adequate.

I shoot RAW format in order to make any later adjustments in exposure.
The following photographs demonstrate different solutions to obtain a decent photograph.


Do Nothing
Matrix metering – Average exposure. No detail visible


Corrected in Photoshop
Adjusted curves, levels, brightness and contrast.
More detail, but not exactly as I remember.

Corrected with Photomatix Pro 3
Combined 3 exposures to capture the full dynamic range,
capable of viewing on a monitor or printing.

The above photo is what it looked like to the best of my memory.
The entire scene was bathed in a golden glow.
Remember, you are looking through fog.


Note: A Photomatix generated photograph usually requires some final tweaking of levels in Photoshop.


Faded Sepia
I included this for those that like Sepia

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think. Do you use Photoshop, Photomatix and/or other HDR software? Or what touch-up software do you use? There is a shareware or maybe a free version of HRD software available on the internet. I looked at the shareware version and it did not seem to be user friendly.

To play Sky Watch Friday visit Wiggers World.


Troy and Martha

83 comments:

Texas Travelers said...

I am posting this early, since I may not have time tonight. Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing all of your SWF photographs.
Troy and Martha

me and my camera said...

Very beautiful, especially the third photo, which would be my choice if I had to pick one. I love the wide open spaces and your photos bring back memories of the year I spent living on the prairies many years ago.

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Wonderful little tutorial... if only I could get this program into my hands. My photos have never been touched by Photoshop and gosh, it would be fun to play with that program!
Beautiful photo...
Rocky Mountain Retreat

Daryl said...

Wonderful ... all and great point about the eye vs the camera lens ... I am always trying to explain this to people who insist on shooting scenery after 3 pm .. but there's so much light .. yeah, for the EYE not for the lens...anyway .. my preference is the sepia tone .. I love sepia .. I love B&W ...

Have a great weekend!

:-Daryl

Pernille's ting og tang said...

Wonderful shots. Love it!

Have a nice weekend:)

Old Wom Tigley said...

Stunning.. I can well understand why you altered it but it's the finer points of how what lose me... I have a product from Serif.com.. to do basic stuff and would proberley find photoshop very useful . Nice post for Sky Watch.. pictures anmd lesson thank you.

Rose said...

I have yet to try shooting RAW--I keep thinking I am going to try it. and just maybe these might spur me on! I love the sepia one best...but all are wonderful!

RuneE said...

Sometimes one misses the Kodachrome 25...

Thanks for the lesson!

dot said...

All the shots are nice. I just use Picasa. Somehow too much editing just doesn't seem right to me. Not that I think you did too much but I have seen some who do.
I like # 3 best.

***Fotografia e Luz*** said...

beautiful sequence of photos with very pretty colors

ellen b said...

Beautiful sky and what a fun lesson, too! The Golden one that you remember is amazing...

Anemone said...

Oh... my go... SO very very beautiful...

Nice weekend to you. Hug from Norway.

Daniel J Santos said...

excellent post and excellent photo work, well done.

Marie said...

I like the third photo best. Well done!

imac said...

Hi, great shots - tend to lean to the 1st, as I tend to like strong colours.

Photoshop Elements2 This I use, its an old edition tho, but enough for what I want.


Pop and see mine before I vanish haha.

Lana G! said...

Love the affects! Beautiful!

Petunia said...

I would love to learn photoshop:)
Is it difficult?
Great idea to show what we can do:)


Petunia's SWF

fishing guy said...

Troy: I think I like your natural photo best. It shows so much character.

Sherry said...

Very interesting post, and the final result in your photographs is gorgeous.

I don't do too much editing but if I do, I use Photoshop Elements or Microsoft Digital Image Pro if I need to correct contrast, resize, etc.

SandyCarlson said...

These are stunning. I very much like your first photo. The effects are subtle but effective (sorry to be repetitive!). Thanks for sharing your how-to.

Angie said...

These are all beautiful photos.

Voz do meu Coração said...

beautiful sequence of photos, congratulations

nikkipolani said...

Very very nice - and I appreciate your additional photos showing each phase of your processing.

Tommy V said...

nice info

John said...

Great photos and description, Troy!

quinttarantino said...

Stunning and a very useful lesson.

Só- Poesias e outros itens said...

Wonderful SWF,
I love the sepia tone!!!

JU Gioli

T.R. said...

What a great tutorial. Nice that you can get the image to the place that you originally saw it. Beautiful shot!

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Thanks showing the steps you took to get close to the mind's eye, Travelers. A beautiful scene well captured.

Ida said...

Great shot and a great lesson.
I have to try Photoshop some time. It`s on my list of wants.
Often the originals are the best. But, it`s fun to play. ;)

My Sky Watch

Judi-gmj said...

yep, what Dot said. :)

Luiz.ramosforest said...

Great work. Beautiful shot.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

It's fun to see how people manipulate images. I haven't the foggiest idea of what you've actually done though. I think I need to take a course. Oh, and get Photoshop!

Neal said...

Very beautiful! It's amazxing what you can do with software!

the teach said...

Troy and Martha, your photos are astounding! I use photoshop for cropping and sharpening (very rarely) and maybe sometimes a filtering effect. I don't shoot in RAW but I can. What do I gain by shooting in RAW? Would a picture be sharper? I have a Canon A710 IS. I'd love an SLR but I'd have to learn how to use it... Thanks for showing us this... :D

Snap Catch said...

Great catch for SWF! mine's up too hope you can drop by...

Anne-Berit said...

Beautiful,all of them!

MamaFlo said...

I know that was taken during a blazing Texas Summer.
I can feel the oppressive heat of the sun through the photo.
Thanks!

Dulce said...

I prefer the one you use Photomatrix. The colours and definition are better than the others. I don't know this program. I use Photoshop to correct my photos and I'm still a beginner, but as I like very much to take photos I began to work with Photoshop to improve them even more. HDR is a technic that interests me but I couldn't yet develloped it. Always trying until I can do it!

Kathiesbirds said...

Awesome photos once again Troy. What a great lesson in photography also. I don't have or use photo shop. We do have Picture Perfect but right now my use is limited to cropping, sharpening, bightening and colorboost with D-lighting once in awhile. (I don't even know what D-lighting is. I assume it means Depth but I don't know that for sure)We are still learning. Thanks once again for this lesson. I did enlarge and they are beautiful!

BeachysCapeCodCupboard said...

That third photo is absolutely stunning! I will definitely have to look into one of those fabulous photo software packages, as I am in the market for a better digital camera. Thank you for the inspiration today and for your stunning photography!

babooshka said...

I use photoshop to crop imgaes for panoramas, and desaturate otherwise not really. You've done a good job, but i actually prefer your non photoshop image. It's gorgeous.

Stacey Huston said...

Troy and Martha.. these photos are all great in their own way.. I have been playing with HDR also..still haven't gotten it "right" yet.. but you sure did... thanks for sharing

Ann from Montana said...

Beautiful!!!

I love the "as I remember" photo...I like them all, but as a person who also uses PS or Lightroom to "fix", "enhance" - just for the fun of the art of it - they are all gorgeous to the eye.

Ann from Montana said...

I left a comment and then reread your post carefully....

I use Photoshop CS3 and also Lightroom - I almost always "mess with" exposure, white balance, "curves", "hue-saturation" and depending on the photo might use the Filter: light, unsharp mask...and sometimes "burn" the edges. I also play with the blending options.

The more I use PS and Lightroom, the better my SOOC photos are as I learn about all of the camera settings and how they affect the photo.

Now, my opinion - I don't particularly care whether I set the exposure correctly when I take the photo or whether I "correct" and/or "adjust" with software after - I LOVE playing for the effect that pleases ME!!!

JeFf & NoVa said...

its really a nice one.. to learn from you there so many ways to change the captured sunset..

thanks to photoshop.. hehehehe...

sooo artistic, i am still struggling of posting mine, as blogger sucks for me this past few days, they have been giving me errors and troubles and most especially a delay...

happy friday

~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

Absolutely beautiful!!

KarenHarveyCox said...

The photograph is beautiful, and I love how you enhanced the photo to bring out it's beauty. Karen

Carletta said...

Lovely photo!
Thanks for the insight into how you achieved each one.
I'm only an amateur but use photoshop for small changes liking cropping or lightness - I'm too much of an amateur to know how to fix things.

david mcmahon said...

Caught my interest immediately. Lovely composition.

MammyT said...

WOW! Photoshop lives.
Nancy

picturing said...

wow....this is great :D Playing with photoshop software is my favorite also :D

Mine in here Thanks

chrome3d said...

The field in the golden glow looks dreamy.

Juliana RW said...

Beautiful. I love to play with CS3 as well, but the other software that you said, i never heard. Hmmm.....let see if i can find the info by google :D

My SWF in here Thanks

David said...

This is a very beautiful shot. Gets the atmosphere really well in the HDR one. I still haven't got around to trying HDR, do you know if any open source/free alternatives are available to the shareware ones?

I don't own photoshop (too expensive for me!) but I use the GIMP for most of my photo editing. It has most of the same functionality as Photoshop, but is free!

Cheers,

David Webb - Nature Pictures

Louis la Vache said...

As Michele wrote, "wonderful little tutorial!" The variations are very interesting. "Louis" just got the new version of i-Photo which will allow some of these variations. ("Louis" doesn't have Photoshop.)

pts said...

excellent photoshop tricks!

Scotty Graham said...

Yes, I use Photomatix pro, PS CS3, and lightroom to process most all my photos....great programs!!

Cheers, Scotty

Gallicissa said...

Hi Troy and Martha,
Great compostion! And thanks for sharing your secrets. I use Photoshop CS3, which I am still learning with a lot of interest.
I am sure you will enjoy
www.worth1000.com !

evlahos said...

very beautiful work. I use photomatix for my hdrs

mirage2g said...

I still like the original, but the one in Photoshop made the land visible, great work! The photomatix product looked fake sorry...all the same great photos! Happy weekend!

Charm said...

wonderful and thanks for the infos!

naturglede said...

I love the last picture, it was like a dream:)

Dancin' Fool said...

I like the do nothing one best I think but they are all lovely to see and interesting to read about your setting changes. Sunrise is such an event. Have a great weekend and bye for now.

JM said...

well done!

Mike said...

Lovely colours!
My Skywatch

Neva said...

Amazing! I am like Michele...guess if I had Photoshop I could have some fun!

Indrani said...

Beautiful shots, lot of creativity here. Thanks for the lessons.

Rambling Round said...

Your photos are fantastic, and thanks for telling us how you get such great results!

AphotoAday said...

I've been "dragging my nuckles" on the whole HDR thing so far, but keep seeing interesting things being done with it.   Interesting post.

eyestothesky said...

Wonderful picture!
I don't have any programs to touch up my photos my computer doesnt have the capacity for it. I wish I did sometimes. Have a great weekend!

Doug Taron said...

Nice photo and interesting treatment. I use Photoshop only. I adjust levels, brightness and contrast. I feel like I'm still in the earlier stages of learning how to manipulate digital images. It's fun.

chanpheng said...

Beautiful HDR. I've got to figure out how to do this! Your photo is inspiring!

Patty said...

Wow, can you come live with me and show me how to do that! I have a nice camera but am so DUMB when it comes to using it.. I love your series of photos. They are all beautiful but that last one really shows the detail.
Thanks for the lesson.

Kelly said...

These were beautiful, and the different exposures were very instructive!

WillThink4Wine said...

I love the first shot! I tend to leave my photos un-fooled around with and prefer natural light, I seldom use flash.

I don't own any photo-editing software except what came with my Canon. I want to take some photography lessons, but then I'll need to get more cameras! Oh, the possibilities!

nonizamboni said...

Fascinating how the photos took on a life of their own, one after another. Nice work. I have Photoshop, abbreviated version, and find it to be just that. :O)Hope your holiday weekend is great!

becky voyles said...

This was cool. Thanks for doing it.

TSannie said...

Totally surreal - the last one is my favorite...I think.

Shellmo said...

I loved the photomatix shot. I could just feel the sun radiating from that photo. Lovely!

Sweetagring said...

I love them all esp. the 3 exposures.

Island Rambles Blog said...

Hi Troy and Martha, hope you are having a great weekend...I posted something for you on my site...I also love that third photo on here...always a joy to come and see this beautiful world you have created....cheers...

Jennifer Robin said...

I've never seen Photomatix before. I like how your third shot turned out. I would have used Photoshop for a similar effect.