a21 January 2014

Winter HDR photography

Winter landscapes

This winter in Poland isn't very impressive so far. There's almost no snow, temperatures are abnormally high - recently it was +15 degrees Celsius while normally at this time of the year it's around -10 degrees Celsius. Sometimes -20 or less. So instead of winter we're having some warm spring here... ok, now the things changed a little bit because it's -7 today and it is supposed to be -22 in a few days but I take these predictions with a grain of salt, especially as in south of Poland (mountains) it's still rather warm.

All that is too bad, because in my opinion winter is one of the best times of the year for landscape photography. Short day makes it easier to photograph both sunrise and sunset (you won't miss neither breakfast nor dinner), light is very warm, reflections in the ice are just extraordinary.

At the same time, winter is one of the most challenging seasons because lighting conditions are often extreme with very bright highlights and very dark shadows. Ultra white snow and dark trees produce very high contrast what makes it very difficult to capture whole dynamic range of the scene with a single shot. Such conditions often require High Dynamic Range photography. For this reason I wrote short tutorial about taking HDR photos in winter.

Daily Photo - Hala Ornak

Previous winter was much better (well, it was real winter). When I was in Polish Tatra mountains last February it was snowing all the time for the first few days what was a promise of beautiful sceneries for landscape photography. And I was right. As you could have noticed I took a lot of beautiful winter images last year including the one below.
Winter in Hala Ornak

I took it in Hala Ornak, which is the name of ending part of Koscieliska Valley. There was a lot of snow there and it was snowing earlier during the hike. Occasionally the sun was shining through the clouds and all this made this scenery look really beautiful and magical.

In this case I used manual blending using luminosity masks but if I was to process this image today I would most probably use Contrast Optimizer available in Photomatix Pro 5.0 as it produces "my type" of results most of the time.

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/7.1
Exposure time: 1/400 s ("middle" exposure)
ISO: 320
Number of exposures: 5
E.V. Step: 1.5
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: circular polarizing filter
Technique: manual blending, luminosity masks
Software: Magic Lantern 2.3, Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC

Where was this photo taken:

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