A More Natural HDR Look

I have been playing with my first HDR/Tonemapped image to see how I can get a better and in this case more natural look. Having read through Trey Ratcliff’s excellent HDR tutorial I started looking at mixing in one of my original images to get a better appearance to the sky which was a little grey (a common problem). The new version I think looks a lot better:

The hardest bit was using a Layer Mask in Photoshop Elements – and that wasn’t hard. The colours are certainly much better than my first attempt and the whole scene looks much more natural. My first very quick and dirty attempt follows:


Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

First 10000

My D50 ticked over its fist 10000 images this weekend while I was watching the Blues vs Crusaders Super 14 rugby. It has taken a while to get there but I have been taking more and more images over the last couple of years and even more so in the last few months. If I keep using HDR then that will speed things up a lot! I have heard that the first 10000 are the hardest but I suspect the next 10000 are also the hardest; there is so much to learn and so many things to try.

I am busy playing with layer masks (or the equivalent) in Photoshop Elements so that I can clean up my HDR images a bit better, get rid of grey skies and ghosts and will post my efforts here when I get something I am reasonably happy with. In the meantime here is an image from the rugby, it may even be number 10000.


More on Tonemapping

I have been playing a bit more with Photomatix trying some more variations on the ‘Grunge’ settings and also with HDR from a single RAW image. The single image attempt seems to have generated quite a lot of noise so I need to find a better way to clean that up, it may be that my camera (a Nikon D50) doesn’t have quite as much information as a more up to date camera but the process generates noise anyway.

The grunge look is effective for some subjects; I quite like it for the following image, with the wooden sunflower the unreal colours look quite good.

The colours and textures HDR/tonemapping generates are definitely interesting and can be very eye catching however they need to right subject and conditions and most of all you need a good image before you start; an average HDR image is no better than an average ‘normal’ image.

I guess that means I need to keep trying to take better images but I will definitely be looking for places I can use HDR/tonemapping to get the look and feel I want from an image. It has been great fun playing with the images from last weeks photo walk.

So I bought Photomatix

So I couldn’t resist and bought a copy of Photomatix and I can at least generate images without a watermark! The coupon code from Stuck in Customs helped. I’ve been having some fun and will need only several years and a lot of luck to get an image as good as those from Trey Ratcliff. Here are a couple of my attempts, comments always welcome.

I quite like the shadows and angles in the one above.

Both these images are of the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Photomatix is straightforward to use but obviously working out which sliders to use to get the effect I want will take some experimentation. The HDR tutorial on Stuck in Customs is a great place to start though.

HDR Photowalk with Trey Ratcliff

Just got back from a great photowalk and talk from Trey Ratcliff, currently making his way around New Zealand. Really interesting and inspiring, so much so that I dashed home and created my first HDR – not great and I haven’t bought a copy of Photomatix (yet) – but I had to give it a go.


The Christchurch Art Gallery

There was a good turn out of local photographers and Trey’s enthusiasm, knowledge and willingness to help other photographers was obvious and greatly appreciated. I wish him and his family a great trip round New Zealand and a safe trip home, thanks Trey!

Fun Clouds

Just driving home this evening and saw some fun UFO shaped clouds, not a brilliant image but at least I gave myself a chance – I had my camera!

UFO Clouds

Always camera your camera – or at least a camera.