Creative photos and essays from the San Juan Islands


New way of seeing the world…

New way of seeing the world...

For those of you visually attuned, you may find interesting the journey I’ve taken to get this illustration. I’ve been impressed with a technique called high dynamic range photo manipulation. Up to seven or more images (my camera does three automatically) are taken of the same object or scene by changing only the shutter speed with the objective being to get details in the dark AND light areas of the scene. Our eyes have a dynamic range greater than cameras sensors, but with subtle differences. The point is to get the final photograph to show details in all areas of the scene without looking too “painterly” or abnormal.

So I bought a program called Photomatix Essentials which allows me to drag in a bracketed group of photos and let it do its magic. All I have to tell the camera is how far apart to make the exposure adjustments of three shots, and it does the rest. Notice how we’re all getting to the technological point of letting something do all the rest of tasks we used to tackle one at a time towards a completion.

I just finished sorting all my old color slides, throwing away about a third of them, and as I sorted I was constantly amazed at how contrasty the bright sun shots were, how little dynamic range those slides had. One salient fact I rediscovered in viewing all those old 35mm slides is how much better the new cameras are at capturing the vision I see in my head. I’m really getting accustomed to the digital ability to capture and adjust an image for a more natural look. I’ve trained myself to see photographically, that is, to adjust my expectations of a finished photograph to the realities of lenses, light, and two dimensional composition. I’m finding with the new tools available with digital image capture, I can expand that vision and I believe the black and white image above shows that. Ansel Adams (and I) would have spent hours in the darkroom attempting to get this look.

Here is the same scene with an unreal, though impressive, expression that many camera operators are creating with HDR software.Labs cedar grunge


2 responses

  1. Jim, that black and white photo is a work of true beauty, an amazing accomplishment. It’s surprising how much more impressive it is than the color version.

    February 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    • Thank you for your comment. Dennis tells me you have an art degree, so I consider your opinion a professional one! That is the first time I’ve used the HDR program, and I’ll admit, I’m very happy with the results. I took that shot yesterday after the sun had gone over the hill, and I’m anxious to try it in full sun, that will be a good test. If you and Dennis want to see that creek before it goes away for the season, I’ll be happy to show you where it’s at or give directions, it’s only a little over a mile from your place. Jim

      February 26, 2013 at 10:51 am

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