Fun with High Dynamic Range

In addition to hanging out with my mom and playing with my sharks last weekend, I also decided to play with a new form of photography (at least to me). HDR (high dynamic range) photography allows you to get both the bright stuff and the dark stuff in the frame to show up. You know, normally on a bright day to get your subject in focus, you have to overexpose the sky. Or to get the sky in focus, you have to underexpose anything else in the picture. So HDR is a technique where you take the same picture multiple times, changing the exposure time for each picture (I just walked down from 1/800 to 1/100 so I had 5 or so pictures at a variety of exposures). Then you use a fancy program like Photoshop to combine them all together into one image. Tada! Sky and subject are both viewable! Or in this case: the bark and the cracks between the bark on this tree are both viewable! That picture up there is from my second attempt – I had read about HDR and had played around with the HDR mode in photoshop so I knew what I wanted my pictures to look like.

This picture down below was from my first attempt when I just tried it out – no tripod, no reading up on how to do it/the best subjects, etc. I just took a few pictures at various exposure times. Because I didn’t use a tripod, I had to stick all the pictures into a program I generally use for microscopy images from work (ImageJ from NIH) to align all the images (note to self – when doing HDR work – USE A TRIPOD). ImageJ did a pretty good job though. The only things that didn’t get aligned were the clouds (note to self – when doing HDR work – DON’T PHOTOGRAPH MOVING OBJECTS… for obvious reasons! You are taking multiple pictures so when things move, they won’t line up right in the composite image!). So the clouds (and their shadows) look a little funny in this picture but there you have it: my first HDR attempt showing you the most well known sight in Boulder – the Flatirons.

Some people LOOOOOOVE HDR because of its ability to capture bright and dark things and some people hate it because they say that the midtones turn out so gray (my photography teacher said that). I didn’t like my pictures at first because Photoshop’s original HDR composite does turn out looking quite gray but then after playing with the colors a little in Photoshop using the Curves function, I think it turned out pretty neat (i.e. not gray). Thoughts? What should I try to photograph with HDR next?

Fourth Week of Advent

I know… it’s been a LONG time since I wrote in here. I apologize for that. Grad school sucks up your creativity and time sometimes. Sad days.
Anyway, I am incredibly proud of this picture. So proud that I got on here and posted it for you all to see! Basically, I’ve been playing with the shapes of out of focus lights. I thought of it last week when we were at Denver zoo’s ZooLights and I had the f stop (depth of field) set very very low (higher sensitivity to light but very low depth of field… means that things not directly in the field of focus are not very much in focus). I noticed how easy it was to get any lights in the background to be big round dots and I thought it would be fun to try to change their shapes! So here we have all four advent candles lit and shining in the shape of stars… Stay tuned for more starry pictures…

A softer side

I think this one works best if you are a bit farther away from your computer screen. Hey… better for your eyes anyway, huh? Anyway, I LOVE this picture. It turned out so neat. Looks all old or something. Or looks like I just paused a movie on an old VHS… Anyway, I’ve been messing around with this new technique to take softer portraits. Used to be that you smeared vaseline on a lens filter and then used that filter to make your portraits softer. That just sounds messy to me. So now people use nylon! I went a bit overboard with this picture and I actually put my nylon black stockings over my camera lens as if it were getting all dressed up to go out. Apparently that’s a bit much since Cobalt is so dark. Though I kind of like the grittiness.
As much as I like the drama of the above picture, I think it is a bit much for your every day “soft” portrait. I tried it again with a nylon “ped” that you get at a shoe store (got new shoes last weekend!)… This makes for a much much more subtle effect…
You can barely tell that I am any softer…. ooooo the subtleties… It was a lot of fun to play with this nylon. I found that if I stretched it differently across my lens, I could get more or less “soft” tones. I also found that this is one of those types of photography that doesn’t work so well with the backlit subject. You’ll probably see some more of my “soft” attempts in the near future. Yay! Fun new camera techniques!!!