Tag: high dynamic range

Sam’s 1952 International Harvester COE Rat Wrecker

A short article about a 1952 International Harvester COE Rat Wrecker being built by Sam Humston in Louisville, Kentucky

HDR Images of a Winter Day in The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork

Red Barn in Winter in an Ice coated landscape in The Parklands of Floyd's Fork
Red Barn in Winter in HDR

Click on the image to enlarge it in another window.

This image is an HDR image captured in The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork in Louisville Kentucky. The trees and landscape were covered in ice which was creating a magical prismatic sparkle when the sun shown on them. I wanted to capture those colors and in making that attempt learned just how difficult that is.

As I reviewed the images back in my studio I could see faint hints of the colors that were being reflected as the suns rays diffracted through the ice but nothing was as spectacular as what I saw in person. I realized that my human experience was much more intense than my camera could record. Even with that discovery I’m still happy with these HDR images that resulted from that shoot.

Frozen Wetlands in The Parklands of Floyd's Fork
Frozen wetlands in The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork

Click on the image to enlarge it in another window.

I especially liked the way the sun was illuminating the tree line while a cloud was shading the foreground in this image. The reflections on the ice around the vegetation are a nice way to bring the light forward in the scene while still reinforcing the sense of cold in the photo.

This image is also HDR and I think it really shows how extending the dynamic range through shooting brackets for HDR, with a strongly backlit subject, can capture a broad enough dynamic range to render the scene.

Winter scene of ice and bridge
Floyd’s Fork flowing under a bridge in The Parklands.

Click on the image to enlarge it in another window.

When I’m shooting landscapes I like to include man made structures in the scene to show how they can exist in harmony with the natural environment. This bridge abutment with it’s strong geometric forms contrasts nicely with the flowing water of Floyd’s Fork. The bridge itself forma a frame to the sunlight’s reflection on the water. The railing along the top contrasts and reinforces the ice coated branches rising above it too.

This too is another case where the use of HDR technique in shooting, a three exposure bracket two stops apart, and HDR processing allowed me to capture information in the shadows as well as in the highlights. The extremely wide dynamic range of this scene could not have been captured as easily, if at all, with a single exposure. That is the main reason I totally embrace HDR photography even when I’m striving for strong realism in my images.

Ice coated landscape in The Parklands of Floyd's Fork
Ice coated landscape in The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork

Click on the image to enlarge it in another window.

I liked this landscape because the sun was filtering through the trees creating a starburst of light while casting strong shadows across the landscape. As in several of these HDR images the HDR techniques of shooting and processing allowed me to capture the feeling of cold while gathering enough detail to make the image interesting.

Winter Sunset in The Parklands of Floyd's Fork
Winter Sunset in The Parklands of Floyd’s Fork

Click on the image to enlarge it in another window.

I like the contrast of the complimentary colors of oranges and blues that are a major component of this composition. As in all of today’s images the use of HDR was the determining factor in the success of this shoot.

In closing today I’d like to say that whatever your feelings about HDR photography it has a place in photography. If you haven’t explored high dynamic range photography you are missing a valuable method that can open new vistas and expand your vision. Go on give it a try you too may find it is a wonderful tool that will allow you to express yourself in ways you have never before found possible.



HDR Image of the Ohio River in Black and White

B&W HDR Image of the Downtown Span Construction Sites on the Ohio River in Louisville, KY.
B&W HDR Image of the Downtown Span Construction Sites on the Ohio River in Louisville, KY.

 Click on the image to enlarge it in another window.

This image was taken from the Big Four Bridge looking west over Waterfront Park and the Ohio River in Louisville Kentucky. It was a busy morning on the river, the construction tug was moving barges for the Ohio River Bridges Project, the Belle of Louisville was headed upriver and a tugboat was pushing the largest size tow downriver, five barges long and three barges wide, that can go through the McAlpine Locks at one time. The Ohio river carries more traffic than any river in America delivering cargo from Pennsylvania in the northeast to the Mississippi River in the west and vice versa.

I decided to make this image Black and White after merging it in NIK HDR Efex Pro 2. I first took it into Aperture 3 after merging my three frame bracket set where I applied some additional contrast and a vignette to the HDR image before opening it in Topaz B&W Effects 2.1 where I chose the Platinum preset. I adjusted the paper tone slightly as well as adding some additional contrast adjustments that the Topaz B&W version seemed to need.


Don’t miss the 50% 0ff sale on Topaz Adjust  that is going on until September 30,2013. Topaz Adjust doesn’t go on sale very often and this is a great chance to save some money and get a true workhorse of a program. My entry into the world of plug-ins began with Topaz Adjust and I recommend that anyone wanting to explore that world take advantage of this opportunity.  Use the link below and the discount code septadjust when you order.


While there consider purchasing the entire Topaz Suite of programs. Topaz has done a lot of improving in the past few years and offers a very good line of software plug-ins that work well with Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture 3.


“Using HDR Photography to Create Your Own Personal Style” Workshop Scheduled

Alabama Morning #3
Alabama Morning #3

The link below will take you to the registration page for this session.


I will be conducting a workshop  “Using HDR Photography to Create Your Own Personal Style” at Outdoor Photo Gear’s classroom facility May 17 and 18 here in Louisville, KY.

In this workshop, I will cover the techniques and tools that are needed to enter the fantastic world of High Dynamic Range photographs, and how to give those images your own personal style.

Workshop times are Friday May 17 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM and Saturday May 18 from 9:00am – 5:30 pm.

I will be teaching workshop attendees how to use the powerful NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 software as well as other NIK plugins for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture 3 to create HDR images that range from Hyper Realistic and Super Saturated to pleasing realistic photos. This small group workshop will be extremely hands on, and each attendee will leave understanding the key elements of processing HDR images to create their own style.

What Constitutes an HDR Image?

I’m often asked what is HDR photography? HDR simply stated means High Dynamic Range. The impetus behind HDR is to reveal detail in all ranges of the exposure. It drives me crazy when people say that the only way to create HDR is by combining multiple images. Digital sensors are capable of a much broader exposure latitude than film; they can record so much information that was unavailable with film allowing us to create a broad range of tonality from light to dark within a single frame.

To my way of thinking HDR means being able to bring out detail in both shadow and highlight areas in a photo. Granted there are times, a strong backlight or a subject in deep shadow, when the exposure range is so great that combining a range of exposures is the only way to attain that goal but as long as the histogram/exposure is within the range of the sensor there is enough information in a single frame to create HDR. It is not any different that dodging and burning when you boil it down.

I remember my “ah-ha” moment in the darkroom eons ago when I had a negative that was severely underexposed in the shadows and my instructor explained that through dodging and burning I could extract the info that was there and create the image I thought I had taken. I was expanding the dynamic range beyond what a single exposure would produce, going straight from the negative through the enlarger, simply by burning in the underexposed shadows while dodging the overexposed highlights to tone map the image. Isn’t that the essence of Ansel Adams’ zone system? He exposed for as broad a range of tones as his film would record and then completed the image in the darkroom dodging and burning areas of the image to produce an image that had the full range of tones from pure black through pure white.

When folks refer to an image today as HDR I think what they are actually referring to is the stylization of the image. The emphasis is on enhancing not only the range of exposure but also enhancement of the saturation, hues and tints within the image along with increased contrast and sharpening. Sometimes the only way to accomplish those goals is through combining multiple exposures but simply combining multiple exposures usually results in a very flat image with very little contrast. It doesn’t become what is commonly referred to as an “HDR” until it has been tone mapped which, to my way of thinking, menas stylized through processing to attain the photographer’s vision for the photo. Taking this a step further I would argue that a single frame can be tone mapped and stylized to create what is referred to today as HDR photography.