Sunday, 26 December 2010

HDR Done Right: Digital Photography School

Thanks to my work colleague Alan, I was introduced to the website Digital Photography School which gives great tips and guides on photography.  

One thing I have been experimenting with is High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging which basically means you get a wider range of luminance, i.e. combining a range of dark and light exposures to give a much deeper fuller image.  For a more accurate explanation, see Wikipedia on HDR.  Now, the proper way to do this type of imaging is to take at least 3 exposures, typically one or two stops either side of a balanced metering (i.e. one too dark, one too light and one just right).  Then using one of the programmes out there (or Adobe Photoshop CS5) you can combine the images to give you the HDR image.  Alternatively, if have not been able to capture multiple exposures of the same composition, you can use "HDR effect" that can be produced in Photoshop (which is what I've ended up doing on some of my shots).

As a beginner, there is a tendency to over-do things... which is what I've probably done.  However, I sometimes think you have to cross the mark to really know where it is! Digital Photography School shows how to do HDR properly with some good sample images: 19 Beautiful Examples of HDR done right

My experiments with HDR:

More London Offices

The Bull, Bull Ring Birmingham
Other experiments with HDR on Flickr.

Recently discovered on my Canon 1000D the "Auto Exposure Bracketing" (AEB) function (see page 80 of the Instruction Manual).  Find this through the Menu button and you can set the camera to take 3 images on one click of the shutter - at a predetermined stop either side of where you meter in addition to the metered shot (best done using full manual mode).

My Journey: Painting with light...

...corny, but true! Photography is simply painting with light, revolving around the fundamental concept of exposure - the process by which we vary the amount of light hitting a capture medium in order to create an image.  Everything else seems to be additional extras to make the image look better.

My digital photography journey began in December 2006 when I took five weeks off work to go backpacking around North India.  The mostly pre-arranged tour was aptly named "Unforgettable India" and took us around Rajasthan and along the Ganges towards Varanasi.  With my compact Sony P120, I was able to take lots of photos and found the lustre and colours of India tantalising through a lens.  My only regret back then was capturing all those photos at 3 mega pixels instead of the full 5 mega pixels to save on memory card space! 

A selection of the best photos from this travel adventure are displayed online here:

After coming back, my relationship with India blossomed and so did my appetite for photography.  I made my first 'photobook' using which turned out really impressive - with many people giving feedback suggesting I take up photography properly! :)

Following this encouragement, I made several other trips to India and began sharing online using Flickr, which I found to be the best serious photography sharing site on the net (Recommend signing up to Flickr Pro, which for around £15 a year gives unlimited storage and uploading).

Just before going on a one year voluntary service programme (Indicorps), I was inspired by my girlfriends' recent purchase of a Digital SLR to go out and buy one myself.  I'd been holding back because of cost, but literally the day before I was to fly, I walked into the local Jessops and purchased my Canon 1000D (Kit Lens) camera! (Spent a large amount of my savings, which wasn't much, but figured I rather living in debt than regret :-) )

I knew my year in India would be very photogenic and I was determined to use it in the spirit of service, which was to be the over-riding philosophy for the year.  And I was able to - from capturing rural students to village festivals, and returning these back to the smiling faces.

The reason for starting this blog is to share my growth and development in digital photography.  I have found it so helpful to learn from people along the way, be that through physically showing me new ways to capture or recommending websites on post-capture enhancing.  And this is my way to pay it forward... in addition to being a space for me to return to as and when I need to refresh my understanding.

I hope you find it useful!

All of my photos (most of them unprocessed) on Flickr.