HDR

During our trip to Drenthe we drove by an abandoned garage several times. So one time we decided to stop and have a look. There were some possible entry points at the front, but with wife and kid they were not the best way of entering the building (broken glass and rusty nails). So we took a look at the back. There we found a big yard with a small garage still in business. And people who were actually working on cars. So I decided to have a chat. Soon we learned that the old garage was owned by three brothers who were in a quarrel about the last will of their father. And all the time they were discussing the will no one did a thing with the garage nor with the cars that were still inside. So I went straight for the bold question and asked if it would be okay to have a look inside and take some pictures. And without a doubt the guy said ‘yes’. So without further ado here are the shot I took inside of this old garage.

Because I was totally unprepared but still wanted to do HDR I decided to shoot everything without a tripod. All HDRs are three images combined and edited in Photomatix and Lightroom. The full gallery can be found here – Urbex HDR Gallery

[Show slideshow]

I went on a little HDR photo trip in the neighborhood with Marcia and we came across this little church in Stompetoren. The church has a small graveyard en is surrounded by some huge trees. In other word the ideal situation for a nice HDR. It feels like the start of a new series. “Black and White churches in HDR”.

Shot from hand, -2,0,+2 stops, all with my 16-35mm lens on the Canon 5D mark II. Edited with lightroom, photomatix, niksoft and photoshop. So it was a nice little project
[Show slideshow]

Quick experiment with an old photo made in Prague in 2007.

Single shot duplicated with Lightroom to -2,-1,0,+1 stops exported to Photomatix, made the HDR back to lightroom, did some contrast adjustments, exported to Silver Efex from Niksoft for the black and white transformation, and back to Adobe Lightroom to do the final adjustments. In short, a nice little project.

Again my daughter and I went outside with a new idea which included our little stool. This time we went to Geestmerambacht with the intension to make a fairy version of our floatation series. While we were shooting next to the lake, with lousy light and hazy skies we came to the idea to place the stool underwater, just below the water level. For a little five year old a bit scary to be on a small stool that isn’t visible but at the end all went well. She was walking on water.

For those who have missed the previous series where we have already developed the floating or hovering concept I wrote a brief tutorial (to be found here) how to achieve this special effect. If you understand how this is done there are many ideas that you can execute.

You can use the same technic when you want someone to walk on water. In our case we placed the stool in such a way that it was just below the water surface. Due to the ripples in the water the stool was visible in some cases, but that could be fixed easily. More on that later.

In the examples below I never shot a photo without the stool. Due to the fact that the stool was underwater, there was no need to hide/remove the stool. So my base photo is with stool.

Because it was not a very sunny nor bright day, (lousy light and hazy sky) I thought the image was lacking something. There is no umpf. So I decided to spice the image with some HDR. I only had I photo so I had to multiply the image. I created 7 different versions with Adobe Lightroom all with 1 stop difference. (-3, -2, -1, 0, 1,

During my last travel to Andalusia (Spain) I made a lot of HDR shots, all of them were shot without tripod. I knew it was a risk, but it worked out fine for me. With the current versions of Photomatix and Adobe Photoshop (and probably many others) you can correct the horizontal and vertical shifts automatically, and you have the option to reduce ghosting artifacts (moving people, tree branches and other objects) So all those hand-shaken images are still useful. And of course some of the HDR’s are ‘single’ HDRi’s.

Click here for the gallery

Love black and white? Equally love HDR? Why not combine the two techniques? I have been playing with the idea for a while and I thought it was time to show the result.

So basically you have two ways to approach this. (In this example I used a single shot HDR.)

1) Make a HDR of the original and then edit that to black and white
2) Make a black and white edit of the original(s) and turn that to HDR.

In this example I went for option one. Just because that way I only had to produce one black and white edit instead of three. To be honest I can’t tell the differences in result between the two options but that is for a later moment to try out.

See below for the results. (click on the images for the larger versions)

I love the way how you get the detail back when you use HDR. Just compare the trees from the original edits with the HDR edit (both B&W and color version).

Make sure you get your transformation to B&W correct. I personally am a lazy bastard and have a preset that I use in Silver Efex Pro from NikSoft. (one of my favorite tools) It also gives you the old fashion look by adding the original film grain (based on type of film).

I also like to add extra drama to the image during the B&W transformation. Just play with contrast , levels, etc…

[Show slideshow]

While visiting Curacao during our holiday, I had the perfect opportunity to experiment with long exposures and try to get the misty water effect. An effect of which I am a huge fan. I also wanted to combine this effect with another effect, HDR. So I needed long exposures and at least three of them for each photo.

Before we left I have been thinking about buying a variable ND filter, but after reading many reviews on the internet, and learning that the Fader ND from Light Craft Workshop wouldn’t work with most of my Canon lenses and the Singh-Ray was way above my budget, I decided that I should be able to do without.

I have to say that I wished I had more cash to buy the Singh-Ray filter, because I did miss it. An on the other hand, the people a Light Craft were telling me that they were working on a new version of their filter, but I didn’t know if that would fix my problems (showing a black cross on wide angle Canon lenses) and it would not ship before our departure date so that was no option.

So I had my tripod set on the beach and tried to block some light with my Cokin ND filters. Unfortunately they have a purple color cast so I didn’t try to combine two of these (which will intensify the color cast). You can adjust the white balance to minimize the color cast but you can only do so much. So I ended up with only one Cokin ND8 filter and at the end I achieved 30 seconds for the +2 stop shot on the smallest aperture.

But only 2,5 seconds for the -2 stop shots. And 2,5 seconds is just too short for the nice misty

We went on a holiday to Curacao and there I found an old quarantine house on the edge of a cliff it was an abandoned building with rotten floors, but the light was beautiful, so a nice situation for some HDR shots. I was the only person at the location, probably due to the extreme temperature during the day.

I love the way how the color of the light is effected when the HDR technique is used, especially the shot on the left is a good example of what i am talking about. All shots are three shots (-2, 0, +2 stops) combined in Photomatix. I know it is not standard to have such huge color shift but when you play a bit in Photomatix it is an option at least. In in some situation I just love the effect.

I used a tripod for all the indoor shots. Most shots taken without tripod failed miserably, just because of the simple fact that it is almost impossible to combine a good HDR is you don’t use a steady base.

Also outside where is enough light to achieve a faster shutter speed it is recommended to use your tripod. Personally I always mess it up and keep thinking that I will survive without. Dumb thought!. I hope I will learn eventually (LOL).

I always try to get the best result from Photomatix without the need to do more adjustments in Photoshop or Lightroom. Some of the photos in this series needed small corrections because I used a width angle lens and I don’t like the curved lines. But that was basically it. Want to see more? Just click on one of the photos and you will be taken to the gallery where you will find more from this serries.


On one of my trips through the country side I saw two rowing boats filled with water laying the waterside. And I thought these were a good subject for HDR. Brought my tripod and 16-40mm lens and made some shots. Back home, after trying a few settings in Photomatix I did not like the results at all. Then I remembered an article I read on the internet which showed an example of black and white HDR photography. (link). The article shows an nice example that appealed a lot to me. So I decided to try it myself (on my own way – not following the tutorial) and I must say that I am very pleased with the result.

[Show slideshow]

For many months I have been driving by this barn, even plotted it on my GPS. But never took the time to stop and take some pictures, until now.

I can’t explain why but I just like the whole scenery and always had the feeling that I needed to photograph this, in HDR. So finally I did.

I had a lot of dust on my sensor and because this is not normally the case, I experienced something new. The HDR process emphasizes the dust spots in a way that it is almost impossible to remove them. So to make sure that I could still use the images I decided to give them a old-fashion look and feel and applied a sepia filter to it. Personally I like the result and it fits the idea I had in my mind.

[Show slideshow]

Photographing in the snow can be very difficult for some people, while this is not necessary. With a few simple pointers you will improve your snow photos.
First you must be aware that snow is white and reflects a lot of light. To correct this you need to tell your camera to overexpose. You need to experiment to find the right setting, in my own experience it differs between 1/3 stop to 1 1/3 stops. It all depends on the total picture. There are more than enough resources on the web that will explain how to deal with this.

For now I want emphasize that there is another technique that can help a lot to improve your photos in a snowy situation; HDR High Dynamic Range images.

When you shoot in RAW (as you always should do) you can make two copies with different exposure settings of one photo. So you make a -1 stop and a +1 stop version of the original. Together with the original you can use these copies to create a HDR via Adobe Photoshop or Photomatix (there are other programs that will work as well, but I do not have any experience with these).

Make sure that you don’t go over the top with your HDR settings, just some subtle extra definition in your shadows and you whites should do the trick. I have included an example. On the left you see the HDR version and on the right the original RAW 0 stop version. The HDR version has more detail in the snow areas without losing too much contrast and brightness.

Sunday I took the car and went for a drive to the IJsselmeer. It was a beautiful day, clouds and a bright sun. So the right situation for a HDRi. Actually I was going to test my new Cokin P-007 (89B) Infrared filter, but more on that in a later article.

While I was driving through the flatlands of Holland I noticed this church in Nibbixwoud. A nice scenery for both IR and HDRi. Unfortunately there were also moments when it was raining. I did not notice this in time, so my lens got hit by a raindrop. But I still think the photos are worth showing you.

Later I arrived in Ursum where this lighthouse is located, again a nice setting for IR and HDRi. On my way back home I encountered a flower field with only white flowers. I was curious how this would work on HDR so again I parked my car. Click here to go to the gallery and see the results.