Some years ago, when I first started my blog, I followed the blog of Phil Brown, from Essex, Massachusetts, USA. Phil was very much into owls at that time. I saw his photographic interest and prowess blossom. Sadly, Phil seemed to abandon his owl blog as the scope of his photographic work broadened. At one point I was extremely impressed by his foray into HDR (High Dynamic Range) image processing. This caused me to look at Photomatix HDR software, and download a trial version (which left a 'Photomatix' overprint on the image). I was pleased with the results, but my use would not be sufficient to warrant the price that they were asking.
HDR software uses multiple versions of an image and combines them in very clever ways to produce dramatic versions.
More recently, I have been taken by the use of HDR that Adrian sometimes shows on his blog. He's particularly good at applying it to farm machinery and to town/village buildings. Adrian uses Nik software for the main part of the HDR process.
After a quick look around, I found the Nik HDR software is an integral part of a software suite from Google - which is free of charge!! You can download the Google Nik Collection from here.
I'm quite pleased with the results I'm getting. In fact I used one such image in my previous post. This is the image, created using the Nik 'Outdoor 1' preset (there are 28 presets to choose from, all of which are tailorable) :
|Cairngorm - with 'Outdoor 1' preset used|
|Cairngorm - original image|
Here's the original image, from which the header for this blog (whilst this post is current) was produced using the 'Outdoor 1' preset:
|Spey Dam - original|
|Spey Dam - 'Deep' preset|
|Mull 1 - original|
|Mull 1 - 'Vigneted' preset|
|Mull 2 - original|
|Mull 2 - 'Deep 2' preset|
|Mull 2 - 'B&W Artisitic' preset|
|Spey - original|
|Spey - 'Balanced' preset|
|Spey - 'Bright' preset|
|Spey - 'B&W realistic' preset|
|Tractor - original|
|Tractor - 'Granny's Attic' preset|
|SEO - original|
|SEO - 'Balanced' preset|
|SEO - 'B&W (realistic)' preset|
Now to the Science bit!
It seems that the accepted way of using HDR software is to take three (or more) images of the same scene with differing exposure settings. For example you take one with 'normal' exposure, one with a plus 1 exposure compensation and one with a minus 1 exposure compensation. The difficulty with this is that, ideally, you need to be using a tripod and your subject mustn't move (although most HDR software has clever features that help reduce aberrations caused by movement). Another downside of this method is that one's use of HDR has to be premeditated.
I may be missing something important here, but surely there's a simpler way, using just one image as a starting point - it certainly seems to work for me! This method is dependent on you shooting your images in 'raw'. It was used on all the examples above, and goes as follows:
I hope you've found this rather different post from me to be of interest. I've certainly enjoyed playing with this software.
Next time it will be back to the wildlife!
Thank you for dropping by.