Friday, January 15, 2010

A Place Made For HDR

Ya know how you find a place every once in a while that's the ideal place for a certain type of image? Like the stream on the Kelly Stanton Road in lower Vermont? I've had images from there on the blog a couple of times. Straight ones and faux color shots and really pushed HDR images. It's just a great place to shot a stream with large, natural boulders. Well, I found a place last week that should have a sign on the door saying "enter here, all those wanting to make an HDR image". It's today's image and is Pusser's Road Town Pub in Tortola. Check out their live webcam here. It's a great place to get a bite and have something to temper the tropical heat. We were in Tortola as one of the stops on our annual Caribbean cruise. It has a lot of rich, dark wood and details everywhere you look. On the ceiling they have old rescue rings from different boats. Just above the light you can see a model of a bi-plane. The walls are covered with all manner of photographs, framed newspaper clippings and proclamations. The back of the bar/dining room is dark enough for a lover's tryst and there's the tropical sun shining through the windows in front. The difference is way beyond the dynamic range of any digital cameras out today. (Next year, or the following that could all change.) It's an overall great place for HDR. Today's image was shot hand held using the auto bracketing function of a Nikon D300. To find out more about how the shot was taken and processed, read the "read more".

The aperture was set to F 3.5, about as wide open as it would go. I shot a seven shot burst, one EV per shot. If you're going to try a handheld HDR sequence you basically have to have the camera on it's fastest continuous frame rate. You definitely don't want to try it with seven single clicks of the shutter. You'd have way too much movement between shots. I steadied my elbow on the table we were sitting at. To get more stable my arm was bent so the camera sat back on my left shoulder. You know how people will tell you they "held their breath" while doing something. This time it was literal. Drew in a deep breath, exhaled slowly and fired the shutter at the end of the exhale, before the next inhale. The top shutter speed (darkest image) was 1/50th of a second. (You can tell it was pretty dark by that being the fastest shutter speed I was able to get.) The slowest shutter speed (lightest image) was a whopping 1.3 seconds. Even with a VR lens that's kind of pushing it.

Post process? Today's image uses only three of the seven shots taken. You might think (because of the long exposure times) that they would be the three clustered around the "normal". Nope! The three chosen were the two extremes and the normal. That means I used a -2, 0, and +2 EV. HDRsoft's Photomatix software was used to process the images. A little tone mapping and the result was brought into Photoshop for finishing. All the usual suspects were employed and the result came out reasonably well. Leave a comment. Let me know what you think.