366 - Happy Birthday

Today, well, technically yesterday, as it’s past midnight now, but we want to be lenient, today is this blog’s birthday. We’ve come quite some way together, from very literal beginnings to a much greater freedom of expression now. Am I weary? No 🙂

We had high fog today that lasted until well after noon. I made three attempts at photographing, a macro session in the morning, a garden session just when the sun came out, and finally the results came with the afternoon session when I took the car for the wider surroundings.

This image was shot with the Nikon 18-200 at 18mm and f11. It is an HDR image merged from seven exposures and tone mapped in Photomatix Pro. You may or may not like the particular style that I chose, but one thing is for sure: without HDR this would not have been an image at all.

The Song of the Day is of course Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday”, originally on the 1980 release “Hotter Than July”. Enjoy it on YouTube.

There are 3 comments

Corey Bienert   (2007-10-15)

Hey Andreas.

I follow your blog daily, and I've come across this term on here and on other photo sites before.

What exactly is an HDR image...and how would someone go about creating an HDR image?

Say I'm shooting with my Canon Digital Rebel...do I just shoot at an F-stop of F-11? I'm confused on the concept...and I'd like to try something new. Can you help me out?

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Bill   (2007-10-15)

Congratulations on reaching this benchmark. It really is quite an achievment. I have learned a great deal from looking at your images and reading your commentaries. Using songs to name your images also brings so much more to your art inspiring me, as you know, to do the same. I look forward to another year of images.

Great image although it is a bit too HDRish for my taste.

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andreas   (2007-10-15)


When I'm refering to an image as "HDR", this is not precise. "HDR" means "High Dynamic Range", and HDR images are constructed from multiple images of the same subject (ideally from the tripod and in quick succession) that have different exposure, normally one exposure value apart. This is called exposure bracketing, and normally one has a "normal" exposure, some that are underexposed but have detail in the highlights, and some that are overexposed but with detail in the shadows. I usually take seven exposures.

Then you use a special program to merge these images into an HDR image. HDR images are represented in 32 bit per color and pixel, enough to represent even the biggest contrasts. The drawback is, that you can't manipulate them and, worse, can't even properly display them. In order to do that, the 32 bit image must be "tone mapped" to a 16 bit or 8 bit image.

Constructing the actual HDR image is a simple and automatic process, tone mapping is eased by clever algorithms like those in Photomatix Pro, but the result normally still looks ugly. Now the art is, to work on such a mapped image and turn it into something that looks really good and not like the result of an algorithm. Normally this means to selectively apply contrast and/or saturation, basically all the things you would normally do to an image to make it pop.

Have a look at the homepage of the makers of Photomatix Pro. They have some good explanations and some ugly examples. Read also the article by Uwe Steinmueller. Hope that helps.


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