It was Friday as I was on my way to work in the early darkness. I take the northern route to work and noticed the snow clad mountains of the north shore. The sun was just starting to come alive and with the ambient light, and lights of the city blending together to form the most perfect scene for which I only had my P&S, not high enough quality for a large print. Overnight there was a slight dusting of snow which came halfway down the mountain. The light was perfect. I decided that on Saturday I would bring my dSLR and try and capture the scene. All day while at work I am trying to determine the best spot to take my photo.
My alarm goes off as usual around 5:30am and I get my camera gear ready. It is still an hour and a half before sunrise, dark and below freezing at around -2c . With frost on the windshields I decide to leave my bike at home and head down to false creek. I thought that I would get a city scene with a mountain backdrop. The light was a disappointment with the heavy cloud cover and the snow had melted from the spring-like temperatures of the previous afternoon. With my plans thwarted I thought I would just walk over the Cambie Street bridge and head downtown . I look over at Science World and capture a hint of sun coming over the horizon .
(aperature priority, 0 ExP compensation)
This weekend I wanted to experiment with HDR photos. I am not sure whether any of you have tried to do HDR: High Dynamic Range photos. The human eye has a dynamic range of approx 15. A digital camera sensor can capture anywhere from 4-6 . From bright sun to dark shadows, your scene may have a dynamic range greater than what can be resolved from your camera's digital sensor. If you expose for the bright sun then you may not have enough detail in the shadows, from a single exposure.
(aperature priority, -1 ExP compensation)
By bracketing your exposures you can take a series of photos above and below "normal" to get properly exposed pixels in differing light
(aperature priority, +1 Exp compensation)
In this third photo it is overexposed to blow out the highs but get more detail in the shadow area.
For HDR it is recommended that you take a minimum of 3 exposures. Unfortunately for me, the Canon can only be set to take 3 shots in AEB mode. I did this series handheld in Continuous shooting mode, which means when set to AEB I click the shutter once, and it will fire 3 times, set to the range selected. I believe that my D80 can be set to take 3, 5, 7 or 9 shots in a sequence. My Manfrotto tripod is fairly heavy and since I was walking I decided to leave it behind. If I had my tripod with me I could have skewed the AEB in both directions and get 6 (or more) shots, but as I was shooting hand held there was no way I could get exactly the same perspective as I have to move the camera from my eyes to skew the AEB range.
Now here is the final result of blending these 3 exposures together to achieve a higher dynamic range that the sensor could natively capture. Of course, since this is my first attempt at HDR I tweaked the curves a bit, bumped up the contrast, played with the tint, and also altered the light balance and increased the saturation to about 120% . It is the first time I have used this software so I wanted to see its capabilities
(HDR: overtweaked and oversaturated)
There were so many sliders and options so I just had to try them all to see what would happen.
Later in the day after brunch I headed down to the harbour in the industrial area. I was walking over an overpass with train tracks below and noticed a scene brightly lit with deep shadows from the low sun angle of winter . It was just perfect for another HDR
(perfectly exposed as viewed from histogram, Zero ExP compensation)
This is how most cameras would expose for this scene. Notice it is hard to see details in the shadows.
(minus -1 ExP compensation)
Underexposure keeps the bright area from clipping and provides more accurate colour for the red buildings
(plus +1 ExP compensation)
Overexposing blows out all the bright areas of this scene, but provides more details in the dark areas along the railway tracks.
The HDR merged image is below. Only slightly tweaked with; curves, slight oversaturation which made the red buildings "more" red, and a slight colour temperature change to a warmer tone, approximating late summer.
(Final HDR image, Vancouver Harbour)