Blog, Events, HDR, Mono, Tips

Mono Monday-Morgan

So I thought I’d continue with another shot taken a couple of Sundays ago at Bodiam castle for this weeks mono Monday. For this shot I got in close with a fairly wide angle (26mm on cropped sensor) to try and achieve a more dynamic view of this classic Morgan, keeping the aperture to a modest f8 to throw the background just out of focus to create a sense of depth. I still bracketed my shots due to the harsh sunlight but when it came to putting them all together in Photomatix, the top half being of soft focus did not work out at all well, with lots of nasty edges to be seen. I decided the best way around this would be to bring both the HDR version and one of the single brackets into Photoshop combining them using layers, then I gently erased the top half of the HDR image to reveal the single exposure underneath . So what you see above is a mix of both HDR and a single exposure.

The next step was to bring this back into Lightroom, where I used a combination of two or three of onOne software’s free plugins to convert to black and white, then I continued to tweak things until I was happy. HDR mono is not something I’ve really done before, I hope you like the result.

Thanks for looking.

Blog, HDR

A Modern classic

OK, so I found a little extra time to do a post on a little something that I stumbled across yesterday afternoon during a family day out.

So on Sunday afternoon my wife and I decided to take the kids to a medieval event going on at Bodiam castle. The camera of course was coming along but I was only expecting to be taking family snaps as I wasn’t really sure what to expect. However, upon arrival the parking attendant directed me to a spot right beside a group of classic old cars, namely the Morgan. I parked right beside four of them, fantastic look vehicles, and one of them I had never seen before; a modern incarnation that was in keeping with the old design  but with a new slant. If I’m to believe the year 04 on the plate then it’s still a good 7 years old, but still fairly new in the scheme of things.

Due to the harsh light of the mid afternoon sun, shooting brackets for HDR was really the only option if I wanted to keep all the detail on the car and in the sky. I didn’t take my tripod though, so I did as best I could to keep as still as possible to get my 3 brackets of +/-2ev. I also had the shutter set to continuous shooting.

I found myself sitting on the grass, legs spread out and leaning back in order to frame the pictures in a way that I found pleasing. You can see a glimps of one of the older versions parked next to this one, and of course I took a few pics of those too. I shall show those in a future post though.

A modern classic.

A very cool surprise indeed, just goes to show that you should always be prepared.

Thanks for stopping by.

Blog, HDR, Landscapes

Birling Gap

Title-‘Going, going…’

So here are a couple more shots from my trip down to Birling Gap last Tuesday. Perhaps not the most exciting light you ever saw but it was very nice to be out with the camera nonetheless; that’s the one thing I love about this type of photography, the excuse to rid your mind of those everyday tasks and enjoy the experience of involving yourself with nature.

All in all I ended up with around half a dozen shots that I’m quite pleased with, a success in my book. Having started out shooting slides I still work on the principle of 4-5 shots out of 36 being a good crop.

I do love the almost mirror like reflections between the sand ripples.

Title-‘Wet sands’

Blog, HDR, Landscapes

Old Buoy at Birling Gap

Last Tuesday I met up with my cousin Steve and his friend Graham for a spot of photography down at Birling Gap. The tide was set to be going out during our evening and so would maximise our opportunity for getting some nice shots both before and after sunset. The weather had different plans though and was changing every couple of hours, though this was not a problem as it had the potential to produce a lot of different lighting situations for us to work with. In the end it just turned a flat grey with all the atmosphere disappearing, however, when we arrived there was a lovely slightly golden colour to the light, though it was rather windy. We decided that it was perhaps a little too bright to start taking pictures towards the sun and so we started walking in the opposite direction looking for shots. After a short while the three of us had spread out to look for our own shots which is when I spotted this old buoy in the distance ( thought at the time I wasn’t exactly sure what it was). Being a dereliction fan I decided I must go and photograph it and so with camera and tripod slung over my shoulder I started to walk very carefully towards it. The terrain was quite awkward to navigate with the rocks being covered by seaweed, making it very slippery under foot and could’ve had me end up with quite a bruised bottom or worse had I not been paying attention. After about five minutes I safely reached my destination. I was so glad I made the trip out, if nothing else I would come away happy having just got these shots.

I decided that the best way to approach the subject would be to get down low and so I went about setting my tripod to its lowest position with the legs spread right out and the bottom of the centre column removed; a nice feature of my Velbon Sherpa. Although the low position was good for my composition the same could not be said for how comfortable I was, being crouched down with feet balanced precariously on the rocks trying to look through the viewfinder without putting my back out. One of those angle finder thingys would’ve been very useful indeed.

Though I could’ve got away without it I decided that I would bracket my shots, which turned out to be the right move as there was just enough exposure latitude to blow out the sky if I composed shots with mostly ground filling the frame. I could’ve used a graduated filter but I need to purchase a new adapter ring to fit my filter holder onto my Sigma. I processed all three shots you see here both normally and by using Photomatix, but comparing them side by side in Lightroom I ended up preferring the HDR versions as they seem to have a little more punch.

More to come from Birling Gap soon. Thanks for stopping by.
Edit: since posting I’ve come to the conclusion that it is more likely to be an old boiler, rather than a buoy.

Blog, HDR, Tips, Urbex

Why HDR pt2-For effect

Title-‘For Vincent’

  In a previous post I showed the practical benefits of using HDR to help achieve a better representation of a scene when contrast levels exceed that of the cameras capability. This time I’ve chosen to show how you can use HDR software to give your pictures a much more painterly look.

This area of photography has come under much criticism over recent years and I for one have become rather fed up with it as ultimately is all rather pointless, in fact the argument doesn’t differ too much from what the impressionist painters went though during the 19th century, or indeed the modern artists of today. It simply comes down to this: It’s your art, do it how you want to do it. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. If it’s not your thing, fair enough, ignore it and move on.

Anyhow, let continue…

As explained previously, you will ideally still be bracketing your exposures when out shooting, but you can create this look by making a pseudo HDR image out of one shot if there is a good tonal range running throughout. The difference between making a picture look realistic or painterly has a lot to do with how you set the smoothness slider (assuming your using Photomatix), so in this instance you’ll be wanting to set it more to the left, if not all the way to to the left. There is no hard and fast rule as to how you set all of the other sliders so it’ll be just a case or trial and error as every picture will react in slightly different ways, so play around with all of them to see what happens. For this reason it is always best to have the software reset everything when starting a new project.

In my opinion it’s still desirable to avoid getting halos, but the main objective is to get the dark and light areas to a pretty even level. So that’s really all there is to it. What you’ll end up with is something that (to me at least) looks a lot more impressionistic. This is exactly what went through my mind when I was out on an urbex shoot last year and came across this chair, it immediately screamed of  Vincent van Gogh’s Chair and I set about doing my own take with the vase of flowers.

So have fun with your photography and try something new.

Thanks for stopping by.