Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some Images Just Need HDR

Today’s image is from Antigua, taken in 2009. In the port city of St John, Antigua one of the first things you see as your ship pulls into port is a large church on the hillside. It’s only a few blocks from the dock and a sweat producing walk up the hill. It isn’t that the hill is that high or the walk that long. It’s just that you’re in Antigua and the temperature and humidity are typically Caribbean. One of the flaws with living in a Caribbean paradise is that you live in the way of hurricanes. St John’s Cathedral has been battered by its share of storms and seems to be in a constant state of renovation. The outside of the church appears to be pretty well complete, but the inside looks to be the focus of the work being done these days. It’s fairly dark inside the church and I didn’t lug a tripod up the hill to get the shot. We’d been there several times before and I knew what to expect. I shot the sequence specifically with the idea of doing some HDR work on the interior. Prior to Adobe Photoshop CS5 I attempted to use other HDR software, but wound up with ghosts all over the place. The result wasn’t what I was looking for. I couple things in CS5’s HDR Pro and in CS5 in general did the trick. After creating the HDR image, the first step was to check the box that said Remove Ghosts. Things immediately became crisper and the guy who had been sliding through the pew became a single person, rather than the ghosts of three of him. Several steps were needed to come up with today’s image. To learn what they are, hit the “read more”.
The next CS5 activity was using the Content Aware Fill option on the Spot Healing Brush (J plus click the radio button for Content Aware Fill). Trying to eliminate the entire person in one swoop didn’t work out too well, but re-invoking CAF (Shift F5) without reselecting got close on the third or fourth try. What was left was a little Clone Stamp Tool (S) action and the fellow was gone. A little more Spot healing Brush (J) got rid of some hanging wires that certainly didn’t add anything to the image.

Problem number three was a pretty serious lean of the columns on each side of the church. The actual problem was the inconsistency of the lean. One side was farther askew than the other. The first thing tried was a straight Free Transform (CRTL T) with the Perspective (Right click and select) option. Pulling the top handles helped, but didn’t get rid on the lean. With the Free Transform still invoked a right click was used to change to the Skew option on the Free Transform. Got a little closer and went back and forth between the two options until it became a lot straighter than where it started. It’s not quite perfect, but messing with it any more would have been a time sink and the improvement would have been so slight that the math didn’t add up to keep going.

Today’s image obviously has an HDR treatment done to it, but without going into the grunge side of HDR the woodwork wouldn’t have come up to color. The woodwork is the key element in the image, so “something” had to be done to bring it out. Hopefully the restoration will be finished and some point and a truly remarkable building will survive future hurricanes.


Levonne said...

"Wow" is all I have to say about this picture!