Thursday, 20 January 2011

HDR Images Part 2 - Taking those Images and turning them in to something

So, a quick recap -

Camera settings
Your camera should be set to AV or aperture priority.
Your ISO should be no more than 100 (to reduce noise in the photo).
Your camera should be set-up for bracketing of -2,-0,+2 exposures.
Your should be using a high aperture setting such as f16 to ensure the foreground and distance are both pin sharp (for landscapes focusing a third of the way in to the scene should enable you to get good focus and sharpness from the foreground to infinity).
For long exposures use a release cable or remote.

OK you have your basic set-up, so what now? What I would suggest is test shots and lots of them. Especially if you have been previously unfamiliar with bracketing exposures I found it useful to practise because you are essentially setting up your camera to take 3 perfect shots which can take some doing.

To start with you need to have 3 images of the same subject (you can increase this to 6 and then 9 once you have mastered taking 3).One normally exposed image to capture the mid ranges, one under exposed to capture the shadow detail and one over exposed to capture the highlight detail. However do consider that you can under expose an image too far which will cause you to loose too much detail in the shadows and likewise over exposing a image can cause loss of detail in the highlights. Also please ensure you are correctly exposing the mid ranges too! Your histogram can really help at this stage to work out if you over over or under exposing too much.

Please don't think at this point that it is overly complicated and difficult because it really isn't! It just takes practise. It is very similar to the way in which you first learnt how to expose an image correctly by adjusting the shutter speed or aperture. You just need to keep in mind that you will be doing this but for two extra images at the same time! This is is why I mentioned early in part 1 "Firstly an HDR image is not just created in photoshop or Photomatrix etc, an HDR image starts with the first image you take. You have to consider the exposure of your first image with the frame of mind that you are taking it for High Dynamic Range".

The above three images enabled me to create the image below. To find out how you will need to read Part 3 - The Post production Options. Coming soon!

Full size here! 

Monday, 17 January 2011

HDR Images Part 1 - Get Started

Something I recently decided to get to grips with is HDR imagery. Its a genre I have always admired and wanted to get my hands on.

Over the Christmas period I treated myself to Practical HDR by David Nightingale and spent many an hour on youtube researching. I highly recommend this book as it lays out everything you needs to know in great detail.

If you are looking to try your hand at HDR imaging there are a few points that you really must grasp. Firstly an HDR image is not just created in photoshop or Photomatrix etc, an HDR image starts with the first image you take. You have to consider the exposure of your first image with the frame of mind that you are taking it for High Dynamic Range. If you don't know how to use your Histogram go learn how, you're going to need it! 

Once you know how to expose an image for HDR, you need to find out how to bracket your images for +2,0,+2 exposure. Ensure you have your camera set to AV mode so your depth of field is consistent and that you set your camera ISO to 100. 
Lastly, although hand held shots are possible (image in this article was taken hand held) make sure you use a tripod. Trust me the quality in terms of sharpness will be better and it will reduce your post production issues!

To be continued!

Photography in 2011

Over the last ten years businesses have changed greatly. This is due to technological advances and financial conditions forcing changes. Although some business have succumb to the difficulties and have cut their budgets and even workforce others have embraced the change and are continuing to ride the storm.

One constant is that the world of the studio photographer, corporate photography and web photography in general remain the most sought after as well as the most lucrative. By trade I am a studio photographer, however I also enjoy many different types of photography, some I am good at others I will never be good at! However I enjoy appreciating others work because there are always new techniques and perspectives to consider. Some of these I often practise and end up incorporating in to my own skill set. 

Corporate photography in 2011 is set to be stronger this year and is set to grow over figures taken from 2010. Even with the VAT increase in the UK and many businesses having to further tighten their purse strings.

Product photography on the other had is very difficult to predict. I have just finished an 8 month contract with a baby Products Company, their new product manufacturing is set to be no different to 2010. However the work coming my way has really started to be more sporadic, I guess manufacturing costs are up, as is shipping and thus marketing. I will watch this area closely this year, fingers crossed it will get better as companies need to push new products and beat their market competitors hence will be picking up the phone to us photographers for product and catalogues shots. 

Technology never sleeps and whilst many photographers are happy with their own set workflow, I (with many others) embrace new technology. We are creative people who are always on the look out for new skills, angles and essentially ways to create more stunning images. Corporate businesses would do well to recognise this as if they employ such a photographer they can be ensured something fresh and new that their business competitors do not have.

However buying the best and new equipment does not make a good photographer. Yes I admit I had many new photography equipment parts on my Christmas list. I have already used these in a recent shoot as a Corporate Photographer. But I also had a higher number of books and subscriptions. Knowledge is power and something I revel in. This Christmas I made sure several books on HDR, studio, lighting and inspirational imagery were received. I always like to expand my knowledge even if what I learn has no direct link to my area of photography. It keeps me sharp and my mind creative which in turn helps me keep ahead of the game!

If you are someone who is a photographer or graphic designer, one piece of advice I always give is do you reading. Don’t just settle for being good in your particular field, read, blog, tweet whatever you have at your disposal. Keeping you mind active and discovering new ideas and processes can never be a bad thing, it will only help to improve your techniques and workflow. Thus making you more successful in 2011.