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Thread: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some HDR feedback

  1. #1
    James G's Avatar
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    1st Post from a Newbie looking for some HDR feedback

    Hi,
    Iím new to these forums but am pretty keen to get some advice and opinions about some of my HDR attempts.

    1st Post from a Newbie looking for some HDR feedback

    1st Post from a Newbie looking for some HDR feedback

    I try to retain as much Ďrealismí as possible, but am not averse to a degree of hyper reality.
    The workflow has been an interesting learning curve. I like to keep my 'out-of-camera' processing to a minimum. (old pre digital habits die hard)

    My normal process flow is to shoot and capture raw and then:-

    Put each image of a triplet through ACR 5 but only process luminance and colour to minimise noise and colour artefacts.

    I then open in CS4, flatten and save each file as a 32 bit image, Radiance or ECR.

    The 3 images are then tone mapped using Photomatix Pro , saved as 16 bit tiff and post processed in CS4.

    Post processing is usually another pass through ACR5 to eliminate noise and colour artefacts from tone mapping, and I also apply any final vibrance and saturation enhancements.

    In CS4 (pre print), I check and readjust levels and use a high pass filter to sharpen.

    My struggles at present are with Photomatix settings. Seems that no standard set of values is universally applicable and I find myself tailoring every image. I do save presets and cycle through them but Iím intrigued to know if any one has any standard recipes that are reliable?

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    Re: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some feedback

    I think your train is amazing; I wished I could take a photo like that. Don't know how to answer your HDR questions though because I'm learning by the suck it and see method and use mostly free software.

    My workflow is completely different since I use tha camera software to turn RAW into TIFF, this then goes straight into picturenaught for HDR and tone mapping; because it is tiff the image remains the same size (for some reason it gets bigger from RAW) and I can use another application and sensor map to remove fixed noise.

    I also sharpen and make adjustments to white balance crop ect before saving as jpeg.

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    James G's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some feedback

    Arith, thanks for the compliment. In one sense it was a lucky sequence. One of those days when the light changes dramatically, from bright and sunny to dark and brooding as rain storms come through. I managed to catch a moment just after a sqall when the sun came out.

    I think I can answer your question about the size of RAW file increasing. Rather its the other way round, baasically as far as I can tell, the Raw capture covers all the sensor information captured in the red green and blue channels without any processing.
    Internal processing on board the camera effectively reduces this by 2/3 when the Tiff (Or JPG) file is generated. There is a reasonably good explanation at the attached url

    http://photo.net/learn/raw/

    I use a Canon EOS 450 D and have noticed precisely the same effect but prefer not to have the camera process the image before I have had a chance to decide on what is needed.

    Cheers,

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some feedback

    Cheers; I mean't proprietary software provided by canon on my computer and by size mean't width x length. If I put RAW through the w x h gets bigger and renders the sensor hot pixel map useless; so the workflow used to be remove hot pixels from every RAW which can then at best be saved as tiff.

    Until I found by accident if I convert to tiff first the size remains the same and I only have to remove hot pixels from the tone mapped image, cutting down the workload.

    I hope I'm not losing anything by doing this because the only other choice is to clone out hot pixels and they are murder to find.

    I mean it is Picturenaught that changes the size; I chose Picturenaught because it is easy to use, you don't actually get to see a HDR but an averaged tonemap plus it has several filters some of which have very few sliders and suits me since I only want to get some detail in highlights and lowlights.
    Last edited by arith; 14th December 2009 at 09:25 AM. Reason: addendum

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    Re: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some feedback

    Hi James G - Both these shots are good examples of what HDR can achieve without going OTT. The engine shot is very smart with the HDR and tone-mapping bringing out more contrast in the steam etc.

    You ask about standard recipes. I don't know what version of Photomatix Pro yoiu are using, but v3.2 has some presets in it that the authors of the software seem to like. You can always try these out as starting points. Otherwise, I personally do not have any standard recipes although I do save some settings. My view is trhat I like to start afresh with each new image and see how I can best work it up. Others may have a different view and that's OK. Chancun a son gout, as the French might say.

    Happy New Year.

    David

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    James G's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some feedback

    David,
    thanks for your response. I'm sorry for the slow response but this weekend is the first chance I've had since the New Year. January came in with a roar for me

    The main reason behind my question is really to find out if anyone is using presets in Photomatix and getting consistent results using them. I have a few that I chose to set up, but I've been disappointed that they do not really seem to provide any consistency despite the similarity of the source images /conditions.

    That said I usually treat the shots I'm really engaged with as unique (don't we all).

    I've attached a couple of images from a Christmas shoot up in Kirkby Lonsdale and i'd be interested in some feedback.

    The weather was misty and foggy along the River Lunewioth a nice low winter sun providing transient glows and I was keen to capture that.

    The frozen fields shot was more an exercise in breaking the rules, Shooting directly into the sun was too tempting to miss given the contrasts involved. I kind of think it came of ( a handheld bracketed triplet!).

    I think I'm going to try an alternate process using simple layer blending in CS4 for comparison purposes. I'll post the result during next week hopefully.

    river-lune-ruskins-view-3b-.jpg

    frozen-fields-ingleton-.jpg

    regards, James
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 13th January 2010 at 07:28 AM. Reason: add images inline

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    Re: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some HDR feedback

    Hi James,
    Well you certainly crashed through the CiC doors with some not too shabby shots. Newbie to the forum perhaps but not to the camera.
    Really like these images, hard to pick a favourite, love the steam engine and Connor Pass but River Lune is spectacular - the detail from near to far, the trees on the far bank, the fog/mist but I really like the tree on the right, that just makes the photo for me. Well done. Hope you're printing that one and putting it on display.

    Just curious about the steam engine - was that from a single exposure or did you bracket it?

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    James G's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some HDR feedback

    Steve,
    the Steam Engine was a handheld 5 EV bracketed triplet processed using Photomatix Pro and CS4


    My usual workflow is summarised in the first post on this thread

    The train was shot in the autumn on a rainy day that had intermittant periods of strong sunlight between the squalls that were scudding through.

    It was a lucky day because I was driving past the Tyseley Locomotive museum when I noticed they had an open day.

    I'd been intending to stop and take a look around for about 2 years but the place was never open, so I abandoned my wife at short notice (with her approval), for about 45 mins ......

    Cheers

    James

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    Re: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some HDR feedback

    James G, love the train photo but i have 1 question for you, the smoke......not sure how to word this question but here goes....3 pics of the train, i would have thought the smoke would be moving in all 3 shots so how did you get the smoke to line up?...hope that made sense.

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    James G's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some HDR feedback

    Hi MrRod, I think I know what you are getting at 
    Simple answer is that the steam and smoke are moving in all three shots and I had to shoot at fairly high speed to limit the problem . The three bracketed shots were taken at F2.8 fixed, and then 1/250, 1/500, and 1/640 second.
    Because I was shooting the triplet hand held, I also needed to ensure as little camera shake as possible capture realistic view of the steam and smoke also required fast shutter speeds to avoid excessive blurring and 'flattening' of the tonal range.
    Both Photomatix and CS4 have settable options to align the images using parallel lines in the subject to resolve image registration. The small amount of movement from the steam and smoke was not enough to lose the Ďrealityí of the scene in this instance.
    Itís always a balancing act with rapidly changing skies as well. Stormy weather with rapidly moving clouds requires the same approach and the image of the Connor Pass was taken in strong winds with rapidly changing light as storms came though from the Atlantic.
    I've done this for other hand held triplets and have then had to crop slightly to eliminated edges where the images do not align, but that has been minimal in each case.
    If images are severely out of alignment, CS4 cannot automatically align them. I have got round the problem on a couple of occasions by loading the source images into a layered file in CS4 first, and then aligned them manually followed by a crop. Rather than use Photomatix or CCS4 to create an HDR 32 bit image, I blended the 3 images.
    (I use this technique for stained glass when Iíve used a Canon G9 which goes everywhere with me. I have a habit of dropping into churches when away on business and if the glass is of interest, I take hand held shots and go back later with tripod, full kit etc if I get the chance....)

    My most extreme shot recently was also taken in stormy conditions and I ended up stitching 7 bracketed tone mapped triplets. I wanted to capture the clouds below my shooting point that were moving fairly rapidly across the bay below.
    I think it came off, but Iíll let you judge for yourself
    Cheers, James

  11. #11
    James G's Avatar
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    Re: 1st Post from a Newbie looking for some HDR feedback

    MR Rod, not sure if the image of Derrynane bay uploaded correctly. Yoy can see it though if you go to my CiC album ... :-)

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