HDR Life Lessons

Between “feeling puny” (as a former relative used to say) and being caught off guard by the early sunset (I somehow failed to notice that the sunset an hour earlier yesterday), I didn’t make it out to do a new shoot today.

But, never fear!  I have new photos to share.  I did a series of 5 exposures each of two compositions from the balcony at the same time I shot the images I posted yesterday.  These were just taken later in the shoot.

I included 3 images for comparison for each composition.  The first is exposed based on what the camera thinks is the correct exposure.  The second is under exposed by 1 stop.  I included the second image because I am particularly drawn to the high contrast of post-sunset skies at this exposure level.  To me, it looks the most like reality.  However, the buildings and landscape features get completely clipped at this exposure and I’d like to have a more detail in the landscape below the sky.

Since I shot 5 exposures, I thought I’d give HDR a try.

Even when I was shooting the 5 exposures, I knew HDR was going to be a long shot.  Literally.  By the time I got to the over-exposed images, the exposure times were multiple seconds.  The wind was blowing at about 15 miles per hour on the ground and who knows how fast higher up.  I could stand there and watch the clouds moving faster than a multi-second exposure.  Rapidly-moving clouds blur in long exposures.  Even the under-exposed image shows some blurring; the over-exposed images turn the clouds into undefined wisps.

But, I’m slightly feverish, so I have a good excuse to think it might create something interesting anyway.  I selected the options to remove ghosts and noise and to align the images when I processed the 5 exposures.  The third image is the result.

Photomatix got confused when it tried to align things and remove ghosts because of the differences in the amount of blurring between the multiple exposures.  So, the really dark clouds turned into floating dark blobs.  It actually did a better job than I predicted, so kudos to Photomatix.

The second series of photos is a different composition, but otherwise the same as the first series.  Same results.

I guess today’s life lesson from photography is that even though a camera can capture many moments in a single image and HDR processing can multiply that effect, sometimes we really are better off just enjoying each moment individually.

As a side note, Nurse Tisen seems to be ready for retirement.  Moving from the couch back to my office chair has him convinced I’m no longer in need of special attention. It was all I could do to keep him at a normal walking pace when I took him outside today.  Tomorrow he’s going to doggie daycare so he can run around.

Valley View and Difficult Decisions

Decision making is something I do all day.  In fact, I get paid for it.  I’m not claiming the decisions I make are important or life changing or even interesting.  I’m only claiming that I make decisions.  And I do it all day long.

The thing is, I’m pretty quick at deciding.  In fact, I’ve spent a couple of decades learning how to slow down and not jump to conclusions.  I don’t need to know every possible piece of information; only a reasonable amount to feel confident that I can make a choice between options.

So, I ask, why is it that once I put my work away, I can’t seem to make even the simplest decision?

Is decision making a non-renewable resource?  Do you only have so many decisions you’re allowed to make during the day and then all decision-making brain cells are drained until they are recharged over night?

I don’t know why, but deciding things like “what do I feel like eating?” often feels like I’m trying to decide whether to wage war on a neighboring country.

Similarly, tonight as I looked through the remaining shots from Signal Point trying to decide which ones to include in today’s post, I look at the first shot and think it’s not bad.  Buth then I look at the second shot and prefer the framing.  In the first example, the bank of clouds is entirely visible.  There is no view of Venus in either shot, but the temptation to keep both images overwhelms.  Instead of choosing the one I like the best, I now have doubled the storage required.

Oh, and wait, what about the vertical version?  Or the wider angle view of the valley at 18mm?  Or what about the slightly less wide angle view at 28mm?

I know that there should ultimately be only one best image but whose best am I shooting for?

Then, there’s the HDR processed images.  After all, given that i went through near heart failure to get multiple exposures of several images, shouldn’t I keep the processed versions of these negatives, combining the many exposures and trying to output a combined photo that exposes all parts at the same time.  I’m pretty sure the entire collection of exposures should be kept just in case I want to recombine them all differently in the future.

I would also share the in-camera HDR settings, but I haven’t actually figured out how to do that yet.  Figuring out how to do brackets of 7 exposures was challenging enough and then that failed.  It makes it a little difficult to get motivated to figure out how to use the more advanced features like in-camera multi-exposure processing.

Maybe next post . . .