Sunday, April 7, 2013

Playing with HDR and Exposure Bracketing on the Canon G1-X

(Okay, I tried to upload these at as high res as possible to keep the images sharp on high res displays, so hopefully blogger hasn't done its thing where it reduces the files while uploading)

I'm playing with making HDR photos at the moment - High Dynamic Range. The idea is this: using Exposure Bracketing, you take three photos, one after the other, of the same scene (so you need a tripod). The first photo is -2 exposure, the next +-0, then +2, so a dark, normal and bright photo of the same scene. 

Then you load the photos into a HDR merging program - I'm using one called Dynamic Photo HDR 5. Basically, in a standard photo, some areas will be really dark, and others really bright. To merge the photos, it looks at the really bright areas in the normal, and then takes the colours and details from those areas from the darkest photo - because in that photo, the white-out areas are visible. Then it looks at the dark shadow areas and takes colours and details of those areas - but from the brightest photo, because in that photo, those areas can be seen.

The result, is that there are no white-out areas or black-out shadow areas, the HDR photo maintains full details from across the range of all three images. The software then lets you play with the amount of lighting, glow, saturation, etc, and I do some final touch-ups in Corel PhotoPaint X5.

The first photo was some couches by a coffee table in the corner, where the sun shines in at the end of the day. The sides of the couches facing the camera were in dark shadow and the flowers all but invisible, but the final HDR merge from multiple shots lets you see all the details on the sides of the couches now, while still giving the feel of it being 'in shadow'. I noticed too, that the crispness of the final HDR image is much better than a single unprocessed photo, I'm really pleased with how sharp the images came out.


I tried HDR'ing some trees in the local forest. I found that because it takes two to four seconds for the three photos to be taken, some parts of the image lose detail where branches and foliage are swaying in the breeze.


This came up nice and sharp - though I had the camera physically too close to the subjects, and as a result, parts of the fruit bowl that are really close are out of focus. I'm pretty pleased with the rest of it - the HDR merging really brings out the colours too.

Here's two self-portraits, with the camera on a timer, and me posing rock-still and holding my breath for about fifteen seconds. I wasn't trying to be artistic or interesting here, just seeing if it was possible to capture a portrait in HDR. Because it takes about a second per photo, once the timer stops, any movement at all results in huge blurring and ghosting of the image, so these took a few shots before I got clear photos. Again, I'm really impressed with how sharp and clear things look when done as HDR, once you get three non-blurry photos to combine.



And an A-Frame house. This one was my first test of the Dynamic Photo HDR 5 software, as I was working out how to merge the three photos.


And my dog posing for the camera. Actually, he was just trying to have a nap. The funny thing with our dog, is that when he is relaxed, the only part of him that moves is his eyes following you around the room, so he's perfect for a 3 second long photo shoot :) The only other part that moved is the lighter part of his side, as he breathed, so there's a slightly blurry patch of fur in his middle, but other than that, love this shot!


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