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Old Sep 26, 2010, 10:12 PM   #1
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Default My first HDRs

Well, "first" in the sense that I've progressed enough where the images I produce are at least a step up from awful. These were taken with an E-PL1, using AEB of +/- 1.0 (originally jpegs, I haven't progressed to RAW shooting yet). I running on Linux, so the processing was done in Luminance HDR (successor to qtfsgui). All hand held, no tripod.

The basic work flow for Luminance HDR seems a little more involved that Photomatix (I read through the 26 page sticky). First you select your base images, then align them. I had to align by hand, as the auto align button complained about a missing plug-in. Once I was satisfied with the alignment, it was tone mapping time. Luminance presents you with a choice of several algorithms, each with their own adjustments. I found that I liked Mantuik 08 best, but I didn't play that hard with most of the others.

One thing I didn't like was that each adjustment needed to be "applied" before you could see the result. Because of that I worked in the smallest resolution available, which allowed fairly quick response. Once I got to some settings I liked I upped it to full resolution, and applied. Full size for the E-PL1 is 4032x3024, so it can take a while.

Anyway, I guess my point to all this was to ask if/what I need to change in my approach? You'll notice in almost all the images that some of the highlights are completely blown out. Is this a matter to be fixed by more fiddling of the tone mapping parameters, or something that requires more processing, or a limitation of the program that Photomatix et. al. doesn't have?

So thanks for slogging through my jumbled thoughts, here are the pictures.

All of these pictures are from the bike trail/park that got flooded when the remnants of hurricane Hermine passed through and dumped 15 inches of rain. The first picture was this safe that appeared to have been washed up on the shore, it was just weird seeing it there. The second is a rock formation that the trail goes along. The last is part of the trail that got washed out. Thanks for looking.
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Old Sep 26, 2010, 11:02 PM   #2
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First, it is hard for me to get beyond your uninspired choice of subject matter. To me, they wouldn't be worth the extra effort of trying to do HDR. Second, I'm not sure I see how HDR has improved the pictures. But, that's just my take on them...for what its worth.
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Old Sep 27, 2010, 1:41 AM   #3
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A few problems and some solutions:

1/ I tried qtpwhatsit as well when I first started looking at hdr and found it pretty incomprehensible. I think you can run a windows emulator on linux? If so, I found Picturenaut for windows to be massively better. If you're stuck with qtp then try and find that plug-in as i think the alignment might still be slightly off as they look a bit soft.

2/ You need to use wider brackets if you can or drop the base exposure -1/3 or more to get the sky etc. if the detail isn't there in the source images then the software can't reclaim them.

3/ There are two parts to HDR and I think these programs do the first part well - that is aligning multiple images and squashing the dynamic range cleverly down but the second part which makes an image 'look' HDR and further processes it to make more detail visible needs to be done separately. Lots of software to do that (inclusing my own - www.autohdr.co.uk)
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Old Sep 27, 2010, 5:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
All hand held, no tripod.
I'll bet this is why the photos look so soft - a tripod is necessary from all that I've heard.
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Old Sep 27, 2010, 3:06 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies everyone. I think one of the reasons it looks soft is that I may have run up against the board's size limit. At home I can read "safe fireproof waterproof" in small lettering by the key hole of the safe.

I think Martin might be on to something with the bracketing. I used P mode for the first time, and I suspect that when I go back and look at all the pictures, they'll all be over exposed.

As for subject matter, it was mostly targets of opportunity. One of the things I like about HDR is how it brings out the details in textures. The rock formation was one that I thought would be an interesting texture. It probably will still look a little soft since I was breathing heavy from my bike ride and didn't have anything to brace against. The washed out tree had interesting texture (to me) too. The safe to me was interesting just because I wanted to know what the story was. How did it get there? It obviously has had the lid torn of. Did somebody steal it and throw it into the lake? Was the flooding enough to actually move it? Those things are heavy. I do like the texture of the debris along side the smooth lines of the safe.

Thanks again for the comments. It's just like everything else (photography or otherwise), practice, practice, practice. I'll keep working at it, and maybe I'll have something to post after a while.
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Old Sep 27, 2010, 3:12 PM   #6
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Nice try, not? Sorry mate but can't see anything in those pics that i like or am inspired by. Sorry
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Old Sep 28, 2010, 10:30 PM   #7
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Well, I've done a bit more fiddling, and researching. It seems that the Luminance HDR will use the auto align tool from another package (Hugin), so I downloaded that, and it seems to work pretty well. I think it aligned this image up better than I did by hand. Probably still not going to make the composition crew happy, but oh well. Now the problem I'm running into is lack of memory, but that's what I get from a $40 surplus computer I guess that's a drawback of HDR vs. other types of photography. Not only do you have to covet the camera kit, but the computer kit also.
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Old Oct 1, 2010, 2:50 AM   #8
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That definitely looks like a much better result from a processing standpoint at least.
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Old Oct 1, 2010, 8:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartinSykes View Post
That definitely looks like a much better result from a processing standpoint at least.
Thanks Martin! I added additional swap space to my linux box, so that helped with the stability a bit, but it's still slow and there are a lot of combinations yet to work through, both on the camera and the processing.
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