Tuesday, November 30, 2010

...and watch out for that propane tank

A confusion of signs resting next to a building in Prescott Valley

Sunday, November 28, 2010

fun with High Dynamic Range (HDR)

These are pictures of my first attempts at HDR, or High Dynamic Range, pictures. A short explanation of HDR is:
  • In situations of high contrast in light, it can be impossible for your camera to properly expose a bright or dark area in one part of the picture without under or over exposing a different part the picture (the camera sensor has a limited dynamic range for a single shot)
  • HDR addresses this by having you take multiple pictures with different exposures, properly exposing different parts of the picture in different images
  • The multiple images are then merged later using software which takes the best exposure pieces of each picture and merges them into one image
There are a number of software programs available for processing HDR images, for these pictures I'm trying out a free demo version of Photomatix Light (demo leaves the "Photomatix" watermarks on my pictures you see here, $39 to purchase and get rid of watermarks).

My first photo above is an HDR composite of three separate exposures I took in Sedona, AZ yesterday. The dark sculpture was in the shade, with a much brighter sky and leaves behind it (no flash used).

Here's a better example. This is a foot bridge across Oak Creek at sunset last night. I would not have been able to get the above picture without using HDR -- the sky/redrock cliffs were still in full sun, the bridge in partial light, and the highly shaded creek bed below very dark in comparison.

To illustrate, I've posted my three exposures below which were then merged to make the above picture (remember, these are my very first attempts at this, so with experience this could be done much better).

I took the above picture with the exposure basically set on the distant redrock cliffs. Notice how the dark creek bed is very underexposed.

This this is a 2nd photo, -2 ev, (shorter exposure), resulting in darker sky / cliffs, and even darker creek bed.

and the 3rd exposure was +2 ev (longer exposure) which shows the dark creek bed, but completely washes out the distant bright sky and cliffs. The bridge is also better exposed.

This was a really nice place to experiment with HDR. It turns out to be easier than I thought. Some cameras, including my G12, have an exposure bracketing option which allows you to set the camera to take 3 pictures in a row, one normally exposed, one slightly underexposed, one slightly overexposed. That's what I did for these pictures. But, it is possible to experiment with HDR by just taking multiple pictures with different exposures. The software also helps to align the images from from the multiple pictures.

For best results the pictures should be taken on a tripod.

For my experiments, my first HDR photo of the sculpture was hand-held, the bridge series with the camera sitting on a railing, and the last sculpture (below) with the camera handheld but partly resting on the ground.

My third attempt -- looking up at a very dark sculpture up into a much brighter sky. No fill flash used.

I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I did putting them together. I'm a convert. You will certainly see more pictures (certainly not all) posted over time on my blog where I use HDR techniques. And without demo watermarks on the images (smile). So far, I like what I've seen with this Photomatix software and after a little more research will probably end up buying their Photomatix Light version to get started.

There are a lot of techniques and available resources on the web about HDR techniques. I'm a total newbie and was very pleased with my novice attempts at a first try. Pretty cool stuff!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

rustic turkey vulture

A very large turkey vulture stands in front of The Painted Gecko, a metal arts business on Ft Lowell in Tucson.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

piercing blue skies

I did a double take the first time I saw this tree growing on a building along Speedway Blvd. Quite the sky catcher and very effective at drawing passing eyes to their business. Click pic for more detailed view.

[Links: A number of Tucson area artists participated in an open studio tour event last weekend. I was too busy to visit any studios, but while looking at participant's web sites I discovered a metal artist with some really nice work. Check out some of Adam Homan's sculptures at his website (be sure to click on his pics to get larger images, press his "return" button to see other sculpture groups).]

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

taking jellyfish to new heights

2010 All Souls Procession, Tucson

One of the many great experiences at the annual All Souls Procession is watching the finale performers. They often use a high lift crane which you may remember me referencing in prior year's blog posts. My low light pictures never do full justice to the height and performances of the suspended aerialists...

MMOS has just posted a VERY COOL daylight rehearsal video shot by Stu Jenks of the aerialists rehearsing for their performance last Sunday night that really captures their movements and how high they are above the ground!

Monday, November 8, 2010

2010 All Souls Procession Pictures, Tucson, AZ

About 20,000 or so Tucsonans enjoyed great weather for the Annual All Souls Procession in downtown Tucson Sunday night. This is one of my favorite events, lots of people watching, pyrotechnics during the finale event, peaceful, tolerant, diverse, reflective, and non-commercial. Simply amazing! I even painted my face this year, wandered around taking pics, walked in the procession, and enjoyed Flam Chen's acrobatics and fire work during the finale.

Below is a slideshow of many more of my All Souls Procession pictures from last night. To get the largest full screen images, press play, then press the expand button at the bottom right. Enjoy! Leave me a comment if you stop by and were there...