Saturday, 5 November 2011

First go at HDR

Had a go at HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography for the first time in Devon.

I shot the sunrise at Seaton Hole as a hand-held 5 exposure sequence (-2 -1 0 +1 +2 EV : "5F 1.0" in Nikon speak). Unfortunately I didn't notice at the time, but the -2 shot still had the sun overexposed which means the sun is going to be overexposed in the resulting HDR image. I guess I should have used a 7 exposure sequence or maybe have a 2 EV gap between exposures. In any case, that will hopefully teach me to check the histogram next time...

As I don't have any dedicated HDR software, I merged the sequence together in PtGui Pro. This is normally intended for (HDR) panorama stitching. Fortunately it is happy stitching single view panoramas, which also allowed me to cater for the camera moving between exposures. I used the "Exposure Fusion" method (ie exposure blending) rather than Tone Mapping so that the sea would become more of a blur (as it moved a lot between exposures):

Exposure Fusion in PtGui
For comparison, here's the base exposure (+0 EV) image, after processing in Capture NX2 to lighten the shadows and darken the sky with controls points:

Base exposure processed in CNX2

Here is the unmodified base exposure, straight from the camera:

Straight from the Camera
After all that effort I think I prefer the CNX2-edited version, but maybe I just need some more practice with HDR!?

More than anything else, I think this result is a testament to the DR and "Pixel Integrity" of the D700, which allows a lot of headroom in post processing. Although taking 1 shot and using an ND graduated filter would probably have been the best solution for this particular scene.

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