The Bean In HDR

When we were in Chicago a couple weeks ago my plan was mostly to get images with my film cameras. In addition to film, I did carry my DSLR with me, as you saw in the last post. So, while I work to develop, scan and post-process the film I figured I'd better look at some of the images from the Canon T3i DSLR.

My Take On HDR

One of the "styles" of photography I do enjoy working with is HDR, or "High Dynamic Range". It's a relatively recent way of processing that can really help bring out the full range of an image. Unfortunately HDR has gotten a bad rap in many circles, mostly because of many of the crappy HDR images (IMHO) that people post. I tend to be on the opposite side of that because I try to produce "natural" HDR as much as possible. What does that mean? Well, to me, natural HDR is something that reproduces the full dynamic range of the scene without over-exaggerating it. I use HDR Efex Pro from Google to process my HDR and I've been very happy with the results. I'm by no means a master at HDR but I think I'm getting better at it.

Here's an HDR from one of the more famous attractions in Chicago, the Cloudgate sculpture, better known as "The Bean":

The Bean In HDR

 Camera Settings And HDR Processing

As you can see, The Bean is a unique structure and people flock to it to look at all the interesting reflections it produces. We've visited it each time we've been in Chicago over the past 8 years. This year I wanted to get it in both digital and film. I think the digital version processed as HDR came out pretty good. I captured 3 images (one at regular exposure, one at -2 and one at +2). The "base" image was taken at the 20mm focal length on my Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. The ISO was set at 100 and the exposure was 1/500th of a second at f/6.3. While I normally use a tripod for HDR I had to handhold the camera this time, which is one of the reasons I went with an exposure that yielded a higher shutter speed. Luckily it was a bright, sunny day so the shutter speeds were fairly fast, even at the +2 (two stops over-exposed) setting. I imported the images into Lightroom, added some basic meta information, and then exported them to HDR Efex pro 2 to generate the HDR.

For the HDR processing, I have come up with a couple of presets that I call "Natural" These are generally fairly mild on all the parmeters which gives me a nicely done image fairly quickly. I usually tweak some minor things but usually I just preview the image and hit the "Save" button to send it back to Lightroom. Once the HDR image is in Lightroom I add some sharpening, crop if needed, etc. and I'm pretty much good to go. I know there are a lot of much more advanced (and involved) HDR workflows but for me, at this point, I'm pretty happy with how I generate my HDR images.

From HDR To B&W Film

I'm still working on the B&W film version ( I actually still need to develop the roll) and hope to get everything developed, scanned, cleaned up and posted in the next week or so. I think it will be an interesting comparison even though the compositions are I think completely different. Stay tuned for the results...

What's Your Take On HDR

I'd really enjoy hearing your opinion on HDR. Do you use it, or not? If you do use it, how do you process your HDR images? leave a comment and let's discuss. Looking forward to hearing your opinions.