Monday, 4 October 2010

Highlands photos (HDR and Long Exposure)

Here are two photos from the same location, the first is in a portrait orientation the second in a landscape orientation.  Both are HDR images taken from a selection of 5 Raw files from the Nikon D300 and shot with the Tokina lens the 11-16mm f2.8.  The photos were then edited in the HDR software called Photomatix and the bottom one was then also cropped a little in Adobe Lightroom and had its blacks and lightfill pumped up.

After the break I shall add one of the original photos that this photo was created from for you to see how the dynamic range is increased with HDR editing.

Here is the same photo but without having the Blacks and the Lightfill pumped up in Lightroom, this is more how it came straight out of Photomatix after it tweeked it.  (its kinda got a magical storytale look/feel to it)

Here is the photo straight out of the camera this was the most (correctly exposed) image out of the 5 but as you can see the sky is totally blown out, a lot of the tops of the trees are impossible to see from the glare of the brightness of the sky and also a lot of the foliage in the forground is very dark and some has no texture.
Its also the kind of Image that a ND filter would not have helped all that much as the skyline and ground line are not smooth like in a mountain picture or a seascape shot, and that is where HDR can come in handy.

Here again you can see the sky being blown out and the forground not having all the detail that the HDR shot has.

One of the basic tips of doing HDR photography is make sure you dont change your aperture between photos. so for that reason do not use Programme mode nor Shutter speed (TV, S) mode when taking the bracketed photos. this will screw up the sharpness and depth of field between each shot thus making y our image mushy.

If you can also control the White Balance (WB) so it does not change at all that helps also.

The next tip is always keep it at your lowest ISO  ie on the nikon that is iso 200.  The reason for this is that when you go to make your HDR image the small amount of noise you have on one shot will then be amplified by the next and the next and the next until you have a shot that is a total mess because you used iso 400!

Here you can see the photo taken close together to each other and you can see how HDR has brightend up the right hand side of the image and brought a lot of the colour back into the image where before it was blown out.

HDR photography benefits from having a tripod, a camera that has a fast fps (though this is not essential) and good low noise at low iso.

Amazingly on the Friday night after driving all the way through the rain up to the Highlands of Scotland the clouds dispersed and the wind stopped.  Even though I was tired after a full days work and a long evenings drive, the power of a good photo took ahold and I marched out the house at 12.30am with my camera and lightstand, because stupidly I didnt think i would need my tripod this weekend!,however I am able to stick the camera on the lightstand and leave it still as there was no wind.

Some of the best shots out of the camera were shot at high iso (3200 or 6400 (H1) settings).

Yes the lighter bit in the middle of the image is infact the MILKY WAY! OUR GALAXY!  amazing
Shot at f4 and iso 3200 for around 30 seconds which when you are shooting in total darkness (no moon light either) this is a very quick photo.

This shot was not so quick. This was a really long exposure, (iso 200, f:4) around 800 seconds or around about 12 minutes long. The house is light up by my car lights and also by me walking around the building in the pitch dark with a tiny little wind up torch light.  This is a type of Light Painting .  The difficulty is knowing when to stop so that you dont actually over expose the buidling.
Here is the same idea again but with an iso of 800 and a shutterspeed of around 120 seconds. If you look closely the stars all seem a little blurry but that is because they are slighty moved . the stars closest to the north star (pole star) move the least and are the sharpest.

My advise for your shots is that when you are taking these kind of photos, involving the north star in the shot is always a cool thing to do.  If you can get it to be directly above what ever it is you are shooting then all the better.  For something like that you really do need a wide angle lens especially in scotland where the North star is right at the top of the sky.  A fish eye will also be great for this kind of shot.

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  1. Great Shots Dom :) Keep inspiring :)

  2. thanks for sharing your shots dom! :-).will try to do the same when the skies are clear here at our place.

  3. Real good, but i don't expect anything else. i like the galaxy shot. I was thinking of just trying to even get the stars in a picture. need to try out the new camera at night. just hate! noise . but I'l need to get over that if i do any night shots.

  4. just found out the bright star you see in the video at around 34 seconds is the really bright Mercury planet!

  5. very good work. the milky way shots are really really really really really nice.

  6. Thanks for the tips Dom. I have tried something similar here in north Manchester but the nasty ambient light from the street lights just paints the sky orange.

  7. Tried the night shots and like Daniel i just got the same. ive got quite a clear pach of crops which i use for some landscape shots during the day but its still close to the citys. Dom whats the clicker hing? i need a new romote for my d300s and i quite like the night photography, and thanks for the tips.

  8. Dom, great Pics and videos, i have been out doing some night shots myself but i can not get the stars in focus, do you have a tip?

  9. dom were you out looking for doggers on that scary driving video lol

  10. OMG!! How scary, when u are all alone in the woods with infinity darkness.. salute u dom!! Thnx for sharing :))