Before the Coffee

July 27, 2010

South Carolina Coast

Filed under: HDR, South Carolina — Tags: , , , , , , , — beforethecoffee @ 12:35 pm

A simple composition along the Atlantic coast on a windy stormy day. The sand was blowing so heavily it created the appearance of fog as it whisked along the beach. I wanted to capture the look but wasn’t able, it was too subtle. This is an HDR image with some added post processing. I softened the clouds with a motion blur and converted the image to Black and White.


June 25, 2009

Out of Plumb

Filed under: HDR — Tags: , , , , , — beforethecoffee @ 3:07 pm

I’m a little rusty on my farm equipment but I know an out of plumb barn when I see one. I didn’t trespass on this one.

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May 4, 2008

Digging a little deeper into HDR

Books are constraining by nature, they go through a stage called editing and editors do what they love – “Edit.” It’s vitally important that a “How to” book not be too long and drawn out that the reader can’t get through it. As a new addition to my blog, I’ll put additional information on topics that were cut. If you have the book this will be an opportunity to learn more and if you don’t have the book it’s a taste of what the book is about.

The chapter on Software Comparison Page 74, shows the 0EV image and 5 images processed by the various programs: Photomatix Pro, FDRTools, Adobe Photoshop CS3, Dynamic PhotoHDR, Artizen HDR. Here is the 100% crop of each image and a short comment that didn’t make it to print.

Single 0EV Image – When comparing the single shot 0EV image with the HDR images as a whole, there are two salient points. First, the single 0EV image has greater global contrast and second, it has greater noise. Having greater global contrast is not a bad feature but the noise is bad as it destroys the finer details of the image. Those details are never recoverable. Notice the noise in the darker areas of the image.

EASY HDR the “Mask” Operator (default) has done a good job of rendering the scene and it’s hard to find any area to criticize. The wood design and dove on the flag are well rendered with low noise and good details. With the default settings, the image appears slightly flat but this is only a matter of fine tuning the black and white points in Levels.


Artizen – Lock06 (default) suffers from a loss of detail due to noise, most likely being taken from the –2EV exposure. The flag is not well reproduced; the white dove has a loss of detail and is near over saturation ie. blown pixels. Additionally, it appears the 0EV image has more details and less noise.

FDRTools Compressor (default) has done an exceptional job rendering the details of the scene. The image has low noise with excellent local detail enhancements. Local tonal variations (contrast) bring out the texture and 3-D feel of the wood. The white dove is accurately rendered with good detail in the wings. The FDRTools image is better than the single 0EV image in color, noise-free detail and dynamic range.


Photomatix – the 100% crop shows that Photomatix handles noise well with no apparent increase over FDRtools or PS. The dove is well rendered with details inside although it has a slight magenta/red cast. The Photomatix image is slightly softer than the 0EV image but it has noise-free detail and displays a higher dynamic range.


Photoshop CS3 – Local Adaptation has also done an excellent job capturing the detail in the wood in CS3. Take a moment and examine the wood figures – notice the waistline, arms etc. in each image. In my opinion, Photoshop CS3 is the best. The overall color is accurately captured giving the image a realistic look. [The book goes into more detail on the weaknesses of CS3 when the dynamic range of the scene is high. This example is a medium contrast scene and is not a problem for CS3.]

Dynamic Photo HDR – I used the “Eye Catching” tone mapping operator and as you can see the 100% crop shows good detail and local contrast. There is color shift similar to Photomatix.



April 17, 2008

Flash Merging

Filed under: HDR — Tags: , , , — beforethecoffee @ 12:18 pm

Here is a Flash Merging example taken with an SB-800 Nikon flash triggered off camera. Four images were taken with the flash held in a different position for each image. I loaded 16-bit tiff’s into Photomatix with the “Exposure Blending” option and blended using the “Highlights and Shadows – Intensive” choice. Its good to play around with all the Photomatix choices and see what you like the best. I even decided to go back and eliminate an image and try a combination of just 3. After I saved the final blended image, I followed with some cloning of the grayed reflections in Photoshop then added curves and color saturation.

You can see some more examples of flash merging in the Strobist group on flickr: HERE

March 21, 2008

Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography

Filed under: HDR — Tags: , , , , , , , , — beforethecoffee @ 10:34 am


It’s an exciting time for me as the culmination of 2 years of HDR field testing and processing is released in my new book: “Complete Guide to HDR Digital Photography.” The book is written for photographers who want to learn HDR and then progress to advanced techniques in the field and computer processing. Categories of scenes are explained to help the photographer recognize when a single image will suffice verses the need for an expanded image set to capture an extremely high dynamic range.

Many HDR topics are explained in detail including camera setup, HDR software comparison, advanced image analysis, post-processing HDR and single-image tone mapping. Sections of the book also include HDR for architecture and panorama photography. The HDR book also includes a newly introduced technique of using flash with HDR, called Flash Merging.

“Complete Guide to HDR Digital Photography” also includes 5 contributing HDR artists’. The artists are internationally recognized for their work in HDR and can be seen on the Flickr photo site. They include the international traveler Trey Ratcliff, Asmundur Thorkelsson from Iceland, Valerio Pandolfi from Italy, John Adams from Florida, and Domingo Leiva from Spain.

For those that are interested, Flash Merging is done with a single camera strobe used off camera. I use the Nikon SB800 and move around the scene taking exposures with the strobe held in a different position. The image set is then blended using “Exposure Blending” in Photomatix. Of course the book goes into all the details on Flash Merging but you can at least start experimenting with Photomatix. You are welcome to use my coupon code for a 15% discount on the Photomatix site, “beforethecoffee”

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