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Packing Up Again…

April 11th, 2008 · No Comments

I’m taking a break from packing up for yet another four-day trip. This will be my fourth four-day trip in a row. I had two at the end of last month and two to start this month. Next week, I’ve got a three day trip with a Burbank overnight on it, so it won’t feel quite as long as a regular three-day. Three days will feel really short after flying four-days so often lately, anyway. But just to keep myself from getting spoiled, I picked up an extra day of flying after next week’s trip.

I need the money, I guess.

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High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging is something I’ve been meaning to get a little more practice with. Yesterday, I took a trip up to the Getty Center here in Los Angeles to try out the new 14mm superwide lens on some interesting architecture. With an eye towards creating a couple HDR images along with practicing my skills at architectural photography, I was very careful about scene composition, exposure, and lighting.

To get the right set of exposures for building an HDR image, it’s best to use an old trick Ansel Adams used to employ. The Zone system helps a photographer envision all the differently exposed areas in an image based on their luminosity. Scenes that have great variations in luminosity make the best HDR images, so I was careful to look for subjects that would give me the greatest range in luminosity over the series of five exposures that I would use to combine into each HDR image. From the results of my efforts, I learned that being careful when choosing your scene makes my HDR images really work the way I wanted them to.

Here’s the results.

This image is actually five images combined (one properly exposed, two exposed 1 and 2 stops under, and two exposed 1 and 2 stops over). The “illustrated” look is exactly what I was going for. It gives everything sort of an ethereal quality.

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Here is the correctly-exposed image so you can see the difference.

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I thought I was going to have a difficult time taking a series of bracketed images because the security staff at The Getty wouldn’t allow me to take my tripod into the museum. Normally, you’d want to use a tripod for these sorts of things to ensure that each image is perfectly sharp and exactly the same as the rest in the series. With the Nikon D3, having a tripod is less of a problem because of the camera’s ability to take up to 9 images per second. So as long as I’m able to hold steady for approximately 1/2 a second (and the slowest shutter speeds for the series is no longer than about 1/200th of a second), I can easily get a a nice, sharp five-image bracketed series captured. The high frames-per-second makes this camera a really versatile tool!

More of my HDR work can be seen here.
More of my images from the Getty Center can be seen here.

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