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Thread: Improving my HDR

  1. #1

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    Improving my HDR

    Greetings,

    This is my first post to the CIC forum. With this message, I would like to introduce myself as well as seek initial advice about the best modes to make best use of the forum. After I secure directions about the best options for interfacing with this group, I will follow up with more specific messages.

    ~

    Enough … for the science lessons. The real reason I am here at this forum is that I want to learn from the experts. As such, I revert back to the status of the student for the area of photography. There are some many talented photographers these days, many of which participate in this forum. I would be most pleased to learn from the exchanges in this forum en route to becoming more proficient in this area.
    I have the good fortune to be able to travel as part of my lecture series. Science is indeed an international profession. On many of my trips I bring along my camera to shoot the local sites. My equipment is listed below:

    Equipment: Canon Rebel T1i Camera with Canon EFS 18-135 mm zoom and Canon EF 70-200 mm zoom lenses.

    I have just created a photo gallery that can be accessed at the following URL:
    http://gallery.me.com/jtmcdevitt

    Last month my wife and I took a trip to Europe where we visited London, Rome, and Capri. During this trip, I began my first attempts at HDR. While I am very excited about the potential for the tool, I am humbled at the same time by the challenges associated with getting high quality images from this method.

    I am now seeking advice about the general approaches for processing HDR images. I have read the following two books:

    1) “A World in HDR” by Trey Ratcliff
    2) “Practical HDR: A Complete Guide to Creating High Dynamic Range Images with Your Digital SLR” by David Nightingale

    Both of these books I found to be excellent. The content of the first book focused more of the creative process while the second book provided a detailed discussion of the technical aspects of HDR. Having consumed both books I have a general understanding of the HDR theory and application.

    Here are the specific questions that come to mind now:

    1) If you look at my images at the above listed gallery you will find mostly regular format (i.e. low dynamic range, single image) with a few recent HDR images. There is a folder named HDR that is exclusively populated with HDR images. Now I am looking for some general feedback on these HDR images. My sense is that the LDR images I have are processed in a more optimal way. Some of the HDR images now lack impact. I hope to secure comments from the group on general impressions of these HDR relative to the other photos.

    2) What is the best method to secure advice about the processing of HDR images?

    3) Is it appropriate to post HDR source images on the site and encourage others to process the files into an acceptable final tone mapped and post processed image? I would love to see what the experts do with the same images I have already attempted to work with.

    4) While RAW images are clearly preferable for HDR from what I have read, not all persons have the same software limiting ones ability to share the full format files. I presume a 16 bit TIF file might be a good alternative, but at 100MB per image the file size may be impractical. What image format and file sizes are used for this type of activity in the forum?

    Thanking you in advance for your participation in the forum.
    Ciao, John
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 21st June 2010 at 09:20 PM. Reason: Transfer question and answers to HDR forum

  2. #2
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Introduce Yourself & Welcome Other Members (2)

    Welcome to the group John.

    1. First off, any scene can be transformed to HDR but usually high contrast scenes, skies, nightscapes are the most popular. Most of your HDR photos have a similar style to others in your other photos, mainly the Campania series. It appears you have chosen a low dynamic approach to HDR, not over processing your images, and this works fine in most cases but will separate your style from others who go over the top with HDR. Your images will maintain impact without HDR provided there is something dynamic in the shot to begin with.
    2. You can get advice from members of this forum or try the following link:
    www.pwassignments.com
    3. Feel free to attach your RAW or TIFF files for members to tackle but your images that you process yourself are more valuable to the learning process.
    4. RAW images are preferred, TIFF images are usually bracketed exposures. Are you using bracketing exposures when converting from TIFF?

    I am new to the HDR process myself and usually process images from RAW, my HDR program (FDRTools) does a poor job of aligning images that I usually discard any attempts using TIFF files.

    Quote Originally Posted by John T View Post
    Greetings,

    This is my first post to the CIC forum. With this message, I would like to introduce myself as well as seek initial advice about the best modes to make best use of the forum. After I secure directions about the best options for interfacing with this group, I will follow up with more specific messages.

    By way of introduction, I am a Chemistry and Bioengineering Professor at Rice University. As such, most of the time I serve as the instructor. It is a pleasure to provide instruction to some of the brightest students in the world. My research area focuses on development of affordable healthcare devices. These devices serve as a marriage of medical devices and microelectronics. They work on the principle of capturing digital images and thus the tie back to this community. More information about our work can be found on www.tastechip.com.

    Enough … for the science lessons. The real reason I am here at this forum is that I want to learn from the experts. As such, I revert back to the status of the student for the area of photography. There are some many talented photographers these days, many of which participate in this forum. I would be most pleased to learn from the exchanges in this forum en route to becoming more proficient in this area.
    I have the good fortune to be able to travel as part of my lecture series. Science is indeed an international profession. On many of my trips I bring along my camera to shoot the local sites. My equipment is listed below:

    Equipment: Canon Rebel T1i Camera with Canon EFS 18-135 mm zoom and Canon EF 70-200 mm zoom lenses.

    I have just created a photo gallery that can be accessed at the following URL:
    http://gallery.me.com/jtmcdevitt

    Last month my wife and I took a trip to Europe where we visited London, Rome, and Capri. During this trip, I began my first attempts at HDR. While I am very excited about the potential for the tool, I am humbled at the same time by the challenges associated with getting high quality images from this method.

    I am now seeking advice about the general approaches for processing HDR images. I have read the following two books:

    1) “A World in HDR” by Trey Ratcliff
    2) “Practical HDR: A Complete Guide to Creating High Dynamic Range Images with Your Digital SLR” by David Nightingale

    Both of these books I found to be excellent. The content of the first book focused more of the creative process while the second book provided a detailed discussion of the technical aspects of HDR. Having consumed both books I have a general understanding of the HDR theory and application.

    Here are the specific questions that come to mind now:

    1) If you look at my images at the above listed gallery you will find mostly regular format (i.e. low dynamic range, single image) with a few recent HDR images. There is a folder named HDR that is exclusively populated with HDR images. Now I am looking for some general feedback on these HDR images. My sense is that the LDR images I have are processed in a more optimal way. Some of the HDR images now lack impact. I hope to secure comments from the group on general impressions of these HDR relative to the other photos.

    2) What is the best method to secure advice about the processing of HDR images?

    3) Is it appropriate to post HDR source images on the site and encourage others to process the files into an acceptable final tone mapped and post processed image? I would love to see what the experts do with the same images I have already attempted to work with.

    4) While RAW images are clearly preferable for HDR from what I have read, not all persons have the same software limiting ones ability to share the full format files. I presume a 16 bit TIF file might be a good alternative, but at 100MB per image the file size may be impractical. What image format and file sizes are used for this type of activity in the forum?

    Thanking you in advance for your participation in the forum.
    Ciao, John

  3. #3

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    Re: Introduce Yourself & Welcome Other Members (2)

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Welcome to the group John.

    1. First off, any scene can be transformed to HDR but usually high contrast scenes, skies, nightscapes are the most popular. Most of your HDR photos have a similar style to others in your other photos, mainly the Campania series. It appears you have chosen a low dynamic approach to HDR, not over processing your images, and this works fine in most cases but will separate your style from others who go over the top with HDR. Your images will maintain impact without HDR provided there is something dynamic in the shot to begin with.
    2. You can get advice from members of this forum or try the following link:
    www.pwassignments.com
    3. Feel free to attach your RAW or TIFF files for members to tackle but your images that you process yourself are more valuable to the learning process.
    4. RAW images are preferred, TIFF images are usually bracketed exposures. Are you using bracketing exposures when converting from TIFF?

    I am new to the HDR process myself and usually process images from RAW, my HDR program (FDRTools) does a poor job of aligning images that I usually discard any attempts using TIFF files.

    Shadowman,

    Thanks for the prompt reply. This is most appreciated.

    I am still in the early stages of figuring out what works best in HDR. I agree that many of my subjects at this point have lacked high contrast and as such might not be expected to be ideal cases for HDR. I will keep this in mind as I move on to the next series of images. I do see excellent results from others with similar subjects, so I think I am missing some key steps. At this stage I have not blended the tone-mapped images with the original images. Many sites suggest this step. My lack of comfort with Photoshop is the initial barrier. I guess I am looking for feedback here to see if this step is critical. If yes, I will make the effort. If others can process much better final results, I will then be motivated to spend more time on the processing. If there are intrinsic limitations to the images, I need to focus on that area. Right now I need the help of the forum to define which of these two issues is the culprit. Perhaps a bit of both...

    I am still at the stage of defining my style and some additional experimentation is needed. I agree with you comments that I need to figure this out myself eventually, but to be honest, I have reached the point of diminishing returns on the HDR processing and feel that by seeking input I will be able to more quickly move past the initial barriers.

    I have tried both Photomatix and HDR Tools with follow up processing in Aperture 3. I use 2, 0, -2 exposures with a tripod.

    I will use your suggestion and post TIFF and RAW format files. I see there is a limit to the file sizes that can be posted on this forum, but can get around this using external links. Do you see any problem with this approach?

    I suppose the next posts will be in the HDR forum.

    Thanks for getting us started.

    John

  4. #4
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Introduce Yourself & Welcome Other Members (2)

    John,

    I used the book HDR PHOTOGRAPHY Photo Workshop by Pete Carr and Robert Correll, you can find a link at www.photoworkshop.com, and the author's chose a varying degree of subjects to convert to HDR (figures in the rain, portraits, landscapes, etc..

    My comment about low dynamic images was meant to distinguish your technique from the more dramatic versions that are generated. I looked more closely at your other series and it appears you did some tone mapping to others not included in the HDR series. That is probably why I felt they were not very different from your HDR series. When you post your HDR images to the forum I am sure members will ask for the original RAW file and you can decide how best to transfer the image.


    Quote Originally Posted by John T View Post
    Shadowman,

    Thanks for the prompt reply. This is most appreciated.

    I am still in the early stages of figuring out what works best in HDR. I agree that many of my subjects at this point have lacked high contrast and as such might not be expected to be ideal cases for HDR. I will keep this in mind as I move on to the next series of images. I do see excellent results from others with similar subjects, so I think I am missing some key steps. At this stage I have not blended the tone-mapped images with the original images. Many sites suggest this step. My lack of comfort with Photoshop is the initial barrier. I guess I am looking for feedback here to see if this step is critical. If yes, I will make the effort. If others can process much better final results, I will then be motivated to spend more time on the processing. If there are intrinsic limitations to the images, I need to focus on that area. Right now I need the help of the forum to define which of these two issues is the culprit. Perhaps a bit of both...

    I am still at the stage of defining my style and some additional experimentation is needed. I agree with you comments that I need to figure this out myself eventually, but to be honest, I have reached the point of diminishing returns on the HDR processing and feel that by seeking input I will be able to more quickly move past the initial barriers.

    I have tried both Photomatix and HDR Tools with follow up processing in Aperture 3. I use 2, 0, -2 exposures with a tripod.

    I will use your suggestion and post TIFF and RAW format files. I see there is a limit to the file sizes that can be posted on this forum, but can get around this using external links. Do you see any problem with this approach?

    I suppose the next posts will be in the HDR forum.

    Thanks for getting us started.

    John

  5. #5

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    Re: Introduce Yourself & Welcome Other Members (2)

    Shadowman,

    Thanks. You are correct again. I was a bit sloppy about the information content of the various albums in my photo gallery. Some of the tonemapped images were placed in the other albums designated by location. The location albums have both HDR and LDR images. The HDR folder only has the tonemapped images.

    I am getting a feel now for the forum and will begin to post some more specific questions along with images with directed questions.

    I will take a look at the book you have suggested here.

    A couple of questions come to mind:

    1) How important is the post tonemapping processing step? Is it useful to layer the final tonemapped image with one of the original exposures? One of the books I have read suggest this is the only way to go. I suspect this may be what I am missing now.

    2) I note limits of the posting size. I would be happy to share RAW files and could get around the limit by posting these images in an open way on a new album on my gallery. Is this an acceptable way to go or are there better alternatives?

    Thanks again, John

  6. #6
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Introduce Yourself & Welcome Other Members (2)

    John,

    `. The alignment or overlay only applies to bracketed exposures (three or more shots with at least 2 degrees variation (-2 to +2 or more if your camera is capable). The post processing steps include:
    a) Loading the images (bracketed images or RAW).
    b) aligning the source images.
    c) reducing noise
    d) tone mapping.
    e) generate the HDR
    f) save the file.
    g. go to post processing.

    The tone mapping is where you can go wild with saturated colors, tone compressing, etc.

    2. You can provide a link to your website if the file is too large.

    Quote Originally Posted by John T View Post
    Shadowman,

    Thanks. You are correct again. I was a bit sloppy about the information content of the various albums in my photo gallery. Some of the tonemapped images were placed in the other albums designated by location. The location albums have both HDR and LDR images. The HDR folder only has the tonemapped images.

    I am getting a feel now for the forum and will begin to post some more specific questions along with images with directed questions.

    I will take a look at the book you have suggested here.

    A couple of questions come to mind:

    1) How important is the post tonemapping processing step? Is it useful to layer the final tonemapped image with one of the original exposures? One of the books I have read suggest this is the only way to go. I suspect this may be what I am missing now.

    2) I note limits of the posting size. I would be happy to share RAW files and could get around the limit by posting these images in an open way on a new album on my gallery. Is this an acceptable way to go or are there better alternatives?

    Thanks again, John

  7. #7

    Re: Improving my HDR

    If you shoot more pictures with EV corrects, you can save images in JPG or TIFF format. If you shoot a single picture, you can save images in RAW format.

    You test the SNS-HDR Lite or Pro. The SNS-HDR is optimized for generating natural-looking HDR images.
    Improving my HDR

  8. #8

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    Re: Improving my HDR

    Pebal,

    Thanks for processing this image. It looks nice the way you processed the image. Do you know if they have an English version of SNS-HDR?

    John

  9. #9

    Re: Improving my HDR

    Quote Originally Posted by John T View Post
    Do you know if they have an English version of SNS-HDR?
    Yes, the SNS-HDR is available in English version.

  10. #10

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    Re: Improving my HDR

    Thanks.

    Have you looked into FDR Tools also? This also has good reputation for photo realistic work.

  11. #11
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    Re: Improving my HDR

    Pebal - I tracked your software down, but I'm not sure it I'm using it properly. I dragged 3 images into the window and SNS-hdr did it's thing, but then it closed without offering and sliders for adjustment, simply leaving the tone-mapped image in my folder. Is this normal for the lite version? I am already impressed by the very natural looking result.

  12. #12
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    Re: Improving my HDR

    I've used the basic version of FDRTools and once you save the image in 16 bit format it should open in your graphics program. I use Photoshop Elements 8.

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    Pebal - I tracked your software down, but I'm not sure it I'm using it properly. I dragged 3 images into the window and SNS-hdr did it's thing, but then it closed without offering and sliders for adjustment, simply leaving the tone-mapped image in my folder. Is this normal for the lite version? I am already impressed by the very natural looking result.

  13. #13
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    Re: Improving my HDR

    Here is how the work flow should end to get the file into your graphics program. i like using FDRTools with RAW files but the alignment function has been less than desirable. I think a part of the issue is the amount of camera shake that occurs when I am trying to capture three exposures, so a tripod is necessary. The advanced version supposedly has a plugin that does a better job.

    Improving my HDR

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    I've used the basic version of FDRTools and once you save the image in 16 bit format it should open in your graphics program. I use Photoshop Elements 8.

  14. #14

    Re: Improving my HDR

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    Pebal - I tracked your software down, but I'm not sure it I'm using it properly. I dragged 3 images into the window and SNS-hdr did it's thing, but then it closed without offering and sliders for adjustment, simply leaving the tone-mapped image in my folder. Is this normal for the lite version? I am already impressed by the very natural looking result.
    Free Lite version does not have a graphical user interface. The graphical user interface has only the Pro/Home version. Demo of the Pro version is also available on the project website.

  15. #15
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    Re: Improving my HDR

    Thanks, guys.

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