165 - Melting Snow

This is actually an image from yesterday and nothing interesting composition-wise. It is my first result from experimenting with Photomatix HDR tone mapping. Hmm … I don’t know why they put such a bad example on their homepage, but it’s their business 🙂

What can I say about it?

It is good. It delivers better results than the tone mapping tools in Photoshop. Much better. It has two algorithms, but the only interesting is the one used by default. This is a clever algorithm that works out local contrasts. You have some parameters to play with, but it is easily understandable.

It can’t do miracles. You will have to dodge and burn a little on the result. The right side of the sky in this image was too dark, the middle part of the fence (where it seems more dense) was too dark, the lower right corner was too light, but that was easy to overcome, because the raw material delivered by Photomatix was flexible enough.

I suspect that results will be even better inside of churches, etc. Remember my country church? This image was not HDR and I had to hide the partial burnout on the altar table with a blur. I like this blur and I think it fits the subject, thus I would have probably used it anyway, but it is always good to have options, and HDR gives options.

Is this how it looked like? Nope. Not really, but it would be utterly impossible to capture a scene like that. The light was blinding, contrasts extreme. Had I not used HDR and tone mapping, I wouldn’t have had anything. I’d say this is much more than nothing, right?

No Song of the Day yet. Maybe tomorrow.

There are 5 comments

Ted Byrne   (2007-03-28)

Interesting painterly quality. This application is getting an expanding word of mouth support. You've illustrated some of its potential well here. I assume you used a tripod to do the multiple exposures?

Did you bracket fstops or speed? If you bracket f stops, don't you run into an interesting depth of field challenge? I tried this sort of HDR mutilple bracket burst thing only once. And wound up with multiple exposures which simply didn't overlay well. It appears to be a technique which is limited to still life photography... Am I right?


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andreas   (2007-03-28)

Yes, I used a tripod. Photomatix has some more or less clever auto-alignment algorithm, but why risk it? In aperture priority mode I did bracket speed in terms of "exposure values". I set the camera to bracket seven exposures, each one EV apart. Photomatix ideally wants 2EV distances, but 1EV is the maximum distance that I can set. Then I took a burst in high-speed mode.

Only still life? No, not really. The main problem is motion. As long as you have enough light and not too much wind, I guess your results will be OK. Again, Photomatix has some algorithm to compensate for the motion, but this will invariably have to increase noise.

For some good examples of interiors (and a good explanation) see Uwe Steinmueller's article and the Steinmueller's Alcatraz images. A very distinct look, nothing for all occasions, very painterly, but interesting nevertheless.

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Ted Byrne   (2007-03-30)

Uwe Steinmueller's site does look interesting but I cannot seem to get it to load. Either the images are extraordinarily large, or my DSL is sleepy tonight. So am I. Will try again tomorrow.

Thanks for the tips.


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Ted Byrne   (2007-03-30)

Ooookay.... I have opened Uwe Steinmueller's site. A couple of things come to my mind re. these images:

1. They have a comic book look. The colors are unsatisfying to me. Yet the colors in your image are totally satisfying. You are doing something different, I suppose. But what?
2. Snce the point of this technique is to dig into highlights and shadows... and since shadows sculpt and define depth... the technique in Uwe Steinmueller's photos results in flat two dimensional images. Not completely flat, but they look the way that comic book art looks... even the most photo representational drawings.

Hence the colors plus the effect in these images results in the sort of unreal image that pen and ink artists make.

Now that can be a useful effect, don't get me wrong, but in his images, and in those of many others, I find the results unsatisfying. It is a subjective reaction.

I did not have that reaction to your snow scene. I wonder what you are doing differently? Or is it the result of the fact that you are doing daylight outdoor photography. While Uwe Steinmueller's results are distinctly comic book artist, yours are mildly painerly.

As Spock would say, "Fascinating"!


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andreas   (2007-03-30)

Well, the Steinmueller's are extremely capable, so I guess they were exactly after that look.

I am not. I use tone mapping as an early step, and because it normally leaves the colors unsatisfying, I crank them up later. "167 - Ten Minutes Before Sunrise" is probably a better example for how I use it. This one, "Melting Snow", I left a bit early, because I ran out of time.

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