a29 August 2011

The Colosseum - different perspective

I think that shooting well-known locations is very challenging and difficult. When you take photographs of something like Eiffel Tower or Colosseum it's really hard to shoot something completely different as there are millions of shots containing them. It's still worth trying though.

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a24 August 2011

Making tiny planets tutorial

Note: I updated this tutorial and here is newer version.


this time I will describe technique to create so called tiny-planets or small worlds. First let's look at the example photo I created some time ago:

Planet Dahab (EXPLORED)

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a23 August 2011

Photomatix Essentials 3.0

Yesterday Photomatix Essentials 3.0 was released. Formerly it was known as Photomatix Light. This version adds option to remove ghost artifacts, adds Sharpness slider to Fusion and makes it possible to change size of the preview and zoom the image. Also several bugs were fixed.

This time something from previous winter. HDR shot taken from 3 RAWs at -1; +1; +3. I was using manual White Balance to get the right colour of the snow.

Trace on the snow

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a21 August 2011

Photo of the day #6

Shadow and Light harmony

One more photo from my Masuria series.

BTW one of my recent HDRs has been mentioned on hdrlabs.com :)

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a20 August 2011

Thoughts: HDR is artificial or... not?

For many people HDR photos are artificial and unrealistic (and they state it doesn't look like this in reality) but such a statement is wrong in my opinion as this means that this person doesn't really understand concept of this type of photography.

HDR which stands for High Dynamic Range simply means that the range of luminosity in a photo is higher than typical display device (like LCD at the back of your camera or monitor on your desk) is capable of displaying. These devices are very limited and cannot show all the luminosity we observe with our eyes in reality. Besides our cameras cannot capture this luminosity (take a photo of a scene having deep shadows and very bright light at the same time - you'll end up with some parts highly underexposed or overexposed thus loosing details in highlights or shadows) even when shooting in RAW format which is much much better in this regard when compared to JPG. Our eyes do see in HDR. It's our photography equipment that doesn't.

So HDR photography is a way to trick these devices to make them see what we do. Instead of capturing a single photo we take multiple shots with different exposure settings to have photos with shadows perfectly exposed, with midtones perfectly exposed and highlights perfectly exposed. The higher the contrast of original scene, the more photos we have to take to fully cover this range. Then these different exposures are merged into one high dynamic range photo.

But such HDR photo cannot be displayed on current display devices (as there will be large regions of "over" or "under" exposed pixels) as normally the HDR photo have 96-bit depth (compared to 24-bit depth of a typical monitor). That's where tone mapping comes into play. Tone mapping is an operation which "maps" high dynamic range photo to a limited range our monitor can display. It means it throws some of the information away and takes best part of each photo (it's much more complex in fact). Tone mapping in most HDR software is highly customizable process allowing you to decide on how this mapping should be performed. It is this step that might make the photo artificial or natural. It is tone mapping that might result in artificial results. So it's only about the tone mapping skills of photographer not about HDR photography as a whole.

Below I put example HDR photos I shot recently. Do they look natural or artificial to you?
Patch of light
Just a bit of haze

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a16 August 2011

Photo of the day #5

I posted this photo earlier today to Flickr. I hope you like it :)

Patch of light

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a11 August 2011

Starry sky

This time a night shot taken in Masuria. Taken with 42s exposure time and ISO 1600 at 10 mm focal length.

A billion of unknown worlds

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a10 August 2011

Tutorial: Photomatix GUI tips


just a quick note about how you can speed up working with Photomatix Pro 4.1 in case of Windows version:

Regarding tone mapping or fusion settings:

* double clicking on the setting slider resets it to its defaults
* you can click on a value next to the slider to edit it by typing it - useful when you know exactly what to put there
* using mouse wheel on the settings window will scroll it horizontally
* with CTRL key pressed when mouse pointer is over a slider you can use mouse wheel to control the value. It's very useful if you want to move it just slightly as this method permits for very small value changes (like 1 or 2 increments - what I mean is it's very precise)
* using mouse wheel on the presets window will scroll it (horizontally or vertically depending on its orientation :) )
* when a preset is selected (marked by white border in the presets window) you can move to the previous preset by using Up or Left arrow keys. To move to the next one you can use Down or Right arrow keys. This way you can quickly go through available presets to compare the results

Regarding image (all types of previews and final image):

* using mouse wheel on the image will scroll it horizontally (when horizontal scrollbar is visible). You can also use mouse wheel on the image scrollbars to scroll horizontally or vertically
* using mouse wheel on the image while CTRL key is pressed will zoom it


* you can also use a number of shortcuts like CTRL+O to open file or CTRL+L to load bracketed set - make sure to study menu items (as shortcuts are listed right to them)
* you can set orientation of the presets window in preferences. Just open Preferences -> General -> Orientation of Preset Thumbnails. I always have it in vertical orientation

I hope you'll find this useful :)

BTW I hope you like my recent photo:

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