Friday, May 31, 2013

HDR in Photoshop or Good Lighting In Camera?

There’s a difference in the two shots that make up today’s image.  One is right out of the camera and the other is a five shot HDR image.  The one out of the camera is a RAW image with nothing (nothing) done to it.  The other, like I said, is a fully developed HDR image.  Can you see the difference?  Sure.  With a little work, can I make the OOC (out of Camera) shot look just like the HDR image?  Yep!  A couple of slider moves in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Beta (or LR 4 or LR3) and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two.  Does the OOC RAW image have some special lighting applied that the HDR image doesn’t have?  Nope.  The RAW shot is one of the brackets used to make the HDR image, so the lighting is exactly the same.  The images are of a steam locomotive at Steamtown in Scranton Pennsylvania.  It’s on the shadow side, on a bright sunny afternoon.  So where’d the light come from?  To find out, hit the “Read More”.

I went into Steamtown all geeked out to take some shots.  Camera on a Rapid Strap around my neck, a speedlight in its case on my belt and a 5 in 1 SP Studios Reflector Kit tucked under my arm.  Ohyeah, I had a VAL with me.  A VAL is a Voice Actuated Lightstand, also known as a second shooter, or in this case, the wife.  She shoots too, but every once in a while I can persuade her to hold a light, or reflector, or soft box or something … for a moment.
As I said, the shot was in the shade side of the locomotive.  I used the 5 in 1 reflector, with a gold reflective surface side out.  I positioned it so the bounce of light revealed the wheel mechanism.  Once I determined the proper positioning I asked Doris to step in and hold the disk.   A couple clicks and I had the shot I was looking for.
The big thing I’m going for in this post is that if it’s right in the camera, why play with it in post?  I had the bracketed shots.  I figured it was ripe for an HDR treatment.  When all was said and done, it looked like the properly exposed shot I already had.  Before going to extra lengths fussing with an image, check to see if you have one that works without screwing with it.  Know when to say when.