Tag Archives: hdr

Dales Gorge in HDR and CAKE09 tales

“Oooohhh, are you guys from the fair” says the very excited woman behind the counter at Coles supermarket; in the small mining town of Tom Price in Western Australia. “Ehhh…what…No?!” I say to her disappointment. “We look like we belong in a fair?” I ask. “Ohhhh no” she says, ” just saw your little shoulder bag”. I ponder what a ‘fair-looking-shoulder-bag’ looks like. Like mine I guess. “Ok, cheers, see ya later"!” and Rod and I collect our shopping. Meet Casey outside – where I briefly study the big town fair and wonder if that is where I really belong. We then go in search of junk food feeling like burgers and chips. 35, yes thirty-five, dollars and some awful junk food later we mostly feel…ripped off!

Later that day. We’re back in Karijini after fuel and food in Tom Price. We’re shooting in Dales Gorge on a gorgeous afternoon. When the sun is out it is so lovely here in June. When the sun sets. Bit on the cold side! I drop my lens cap. As I do. Catch it before it dives into Fortesque Falls.  I keep wanting to point my camera up at the sky. Walls, any sort of walls, and I do not agree. Confining. Boxed in. I need a wide open space with a view to infinity. Open composition. As we are doing a CAKE group portrait next to a massive tree, I somehow manage to run into someone who excitedly says she recognises me from Mitchell Falls in the Kimberley. “I’m everywhere” I say, not really remembering her. Life of an international superstar (cough cough). What a funky day in the universe!

Finally; at the bottom (or top?) pool of Dales Gorge I somehow manage a gorge shot that I like very much. And finally; after many words here it is:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Dales Gorge pool and waterfall
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

There is a massive range of light here from the highlights to the shadows. Maybe 10 stops. Much more than any camera can capture. So I chose to do a High Dynamic Range image, shooting 3 exposures of the same shot at –4, 0 and +4 stops. I don’t really like the HDR results from any software be it Photoshop or Photomatix. I do my own blend as I find I get more natural looking results. Using layers in Photoshop I simply use masks to blend the 3 different exposures together. Highlights from the –4 shot, shadows from the +4 and perhaps just a bit of midtone from the middle image. I find I can much better control the result this way, a result that looks less fake and less obvious HDR. This image is probably quite close to what the eye can see when at the scene. However; as we’re not used to any cameras being able to capture details in highlights and shadows an image like this tends to look a bit like a painting. It is not a bad look for a photograph as long as it doesn’t scream ‘HDR generated’. I am quite happy with the results here and would love to hear your opinion or questions in a comment.

CAKE09 – short for Cape leveque And Karijini Expedition ‘09. You are forgiven if it slipped your mind! More tales to come…

Reality doesn’t exist – an example

As a follow up to my previous post – here is a practical example of what I mean when I say I use digital post production to make the image reflect the scene as I saw it.

Have a look at this panorama shot from Saturday, it’s Christianshavn Canal in Copenhagen and click the photo to see large size on my web:

Click to see large size on my gallery!

Shot around 2.30pm it’s about an hour before sunset. The sun in Winter is extremely low here in the North and the sunlight is quite weak but also lovely warm and orange on clear Winter days like this. Oh and yes, as you can tell from my position I can walk on water!

Now this is shot straight into the sun basically, the sun is just hiding behind the left building. It’s called “contre-jour” to make it sound arty, it’s just French for “against the light”. It’s a classic situation where any camera falls short. Your eyes can see details in the shadows even when looking against the light. The camera cannot (let’s save the topic of digital HDR for another post). I exposed for the midtones to get a workable compromise and the raw file of this shot has extremely dark shadows, the entire left side is very dark and the highlights are very bright and almost blown out.

But…remember I shoot raw and raw files actually has quite a bit of data that you can’t see but can be dug out! I carefully use the “fill light” and “shadow contrast” features in Rawshooter to lighten the shadows and the left side without overdoing it. I also tone down the highlight contrast a bit. What I’m really doing is trying to compress the too large dynamic range. Not too much I still want that looking-into-the-light feeling but I want details in the shadows too. It’s classic darkroom stuff and Ansel Adams did the same 70 years ago. It’s just a lot easier these days and I think Ansel would have loved working with raw digital files.

The result as seen above is a reflection of how I remember the scene looked and felt when I shot it. I didn’t add or remove content, I simply lightened the shadows a bit and  darkened the highlights. I am satisfied with the result – I got the look I wanted and remember from the scene so mission accomplished!