Thursday, November 12, 2009

HDR Images from South West Virginia.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a fairly new method of photographing a subject various times using different exposures and then overlaying/merging them into a single digital image. HDR application results in images that cover most of the light dynamic range visible to the human eye. Basically a static subject is selected and photographed with a camera in a tripod to avoid any shake of the camera will result in blurry images. Once the subject is framed and the lens manually focused, several exposures are made by using the same f stop but changing the shutter speed. The number of exposures varies and depends on the photographer’s preference and the dynamic range of the subject. I usually take 5 images for example at 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60 and 1/30 but may select from 3 to 5 of those to compress into the final image. It is possible to create a HDR image from just one photograph by changing the exposure of the images by +/- one f stop from the original. Then these images are compressed digitally into one and further manipulated in Photoshop or other image software. I use a full frame sensor camera for HDR.

The Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia offer unlimited photographic opportunities particularly in the autumn when the tree leaves change colors. I was probably 10 days late for the colorful show; it is still a great time to go. I drove around the back roads and stopped whenever I saw some scenery appropriate for HDR. I first stopped in Narrows a small town in Rt. 61 close to border with West Virginia. It has a small park where Wolf Creek is impounded creating a small lake across which there was the red barn above. I was attracted to it by its red color and the reflections in the water.
About 1000 feet downstream, the spillover for the dike that forms the lake is located.
I decided to see what results the moving water would create in the HDR image so I tried
with the results were more pleasant than expected.

That afternoon I drove to Mabry Mill in the Blue Ridge Parkway but the lighting was not
right so decided to return the next morning. I was greatly rewarded with ideal lighting conditions as seen below.

The mill goes back to the early 1900’s, started as a blacksmith shop, then a sawmill, and finally as a grist mill by 1914. This mill according to the information is the most photographed item in the Blue Ridge Parkway. Notice the difference in color between this image and the previous one; lighting conditions were the same but the images had different dynamic ranges and were processed differently. Could I repeat the process? No.

In the way back home down Rt. 8, I passed by several covered bridges near the village of Stuart and photographed 3 of them. I found Bobwhite Bridge the most attractive; it is an 80-foot truss construction bridge over the Smith River built in 1921.


SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

These are simply STUNNING Jose!! Especially #2, 3 and 4.

I have never tried this process as do not have patience for it but I must say I really like the results. When you say "various time" does this mean hours? If so does it not take a very long time to get all the pictures to frame together? For example, the second one of the water, how many frames did it take and over what period of time?

It was a great trip and maybe you were too late to take full advantage of the full fall colors, but these are magnificent!! Thanks for sharing.

Jose's World said...

The images are taken consecutively one after the other with no time interval other than what it takes the camera cycle. The second image was the result of 5 frames in about 15 seconds.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Thanks for this information Jose. I am going to have to try it sometime. I thought the time delay was mch longer than that.

Also, I do not use Photoshop so I need to see if my program would be able to do this.

Once again, stunning images. You are a master at pgotography.

jeannette stgermain said...

Like the first pic because of the soft and hard edges, as well as the reflections! And the third, because of it's interesting design.
i'm leaving the HDR process to you:)

Tim Rucci said...

Fantastic work, Jose! I've been turned off a lot in the past with a lot of over-baked HDR that I see from folks, but imho, your images show how it SHOULD be done... to recreate the dynamic range the brain perceives when standing there in person, but which the camera is incapable of capturing and reproducing within the constraints of a single exposure. I love the results, and the setting is magnificent.

gidje said...

Hi Jose! I love the effect that you get with HDR. I especially like #3. How inspiring! Hope all is well. b-