Sunday, March 28, 2010

Easy HDR

I was walking by a Shell Station in Palo Alto and noticed two Cadillacs in the bays. I thought it might be an interesting photo. But I could tell, that the bright sun would force me to expose for the shadowed Cadillacs or the exterior. So I set my camera to expose for normal. Then two stops up and two stops down. Here are the resulting shots. All are at f/11. The first, exposed at the normal reading is at 1/250 shutter. The darker one is at 1/1000 and the third at 1/60.

I then exported all three to Photomatix Pro to combine them into one HDR image. Photomatix is an easy way to get the darks, medium and light tones all in one image. I used the automatic setting for tone mapping. I then got the following image. Notice how the sky is more deep blue and details are now visible in the bays.

I was not nuts about the unrealistic nature of the photo, so I wanted to convert to black and white. I then exported to photoshop, converted to B&W in layers. I brightened the yellows to make them white and darkened the reds and blues. Cropped and got the resulting B&W image.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Road trip

I recently completed a 3-day road trip through central California. It took me from Pismo Beach across the state to Death Valley and Lone Pine, then back again through the Central Valley.
I seemed to find three main types of photos. Nature photos abound, but I try to stay away from too much sunset and wildflower pictures, looking instead for juxtapositions between nature and man. At the beach and the dunes at Oceano, there were boardwalks and fishermen. In Death Valley, there were the dunes with footprints and roads.
In the in Lone Pine and the Central Valley there were structures placed against the spectacular backdrops of the Sierras or the vast plane of the fields and desert. The electrical towers seem to pop up like daisies in the Central Valley. Right along side are oil wells. In between it all are the farms with grapes, orchards and livestock.
In the towns were people. Unless I am shooting a portrait, I usually photograph the evidence of man rather than the people themselves, but humans did sneak into some of my photos.
In many of the final pictures, I continue to experiment with format. Sometimes the flatter, “widescreen” format seems to capture everything pertinent to the photo. In these cases, I decided to make them wide and short. Difficult to frame these in the camera, but then again, it is all digital, no 8x10 negatives here.