HDR Church II


HDR Church (53rd street) pre-dawn.

I became interested in HDR a few weeks ago when I used it for a client project. Yesterday, before dawn, I set out to 57th street (by cab) with tripod, and camera set to AEB (auto bracketing) in steps of 1 stop, and wandered around midtown until it started to snow and I was getting snow on the lens. I did quite a few that morning, and am just starting to go through them now. It is a very intriguing technique, and one of the few times where the colors are pleasing to me and the shots look better in color than b&w. At least at this early stage.

There is another program that Brent recommended for HDR (http://www.hdrsoft.com/) that I’m going to download to try. The one thing that doesn’t work well with Photoshop HDR are things like shooting directly into headlights, even if they’re still I get a strange chroma mismatch when Photoshop merges the three images. But I returned with a lot to play with. This is with the 40d and the 30mm sigma, 800 ASA, f5.6, middle shot at 4 seconds.

There was no reason to shoot at asa 800 other than that I was half asleep, and didn’t check the asa settings. Being able to use auto bracketing, which I never used before, was a nice touch and one the reasons I’m drawn to the slr camera type – there’s always some feature that I never touched that comes in handy down the line. One other note: there is not a touch of noise in the hdr merged shot and I have added a lot of contrast. In other words, the original shot picked up every bit of the darker areas to the point where I had to bring them down, and all but the specular highlights are caught as well. The histogram looks like you were shooting a gray card. This was shot at 6:29 a.m. – which is to say just before dawn.

P.S. If you go to leave a comment, the title is going to be Tango something or other and I don’t know why.  So just pretend it’s the right title and go ahead.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

9 thoughts on “HDR Church II”

  1. I have hdrsoft.com’s Photomatix. It is a good product, tho I have mostly just used the ‘tone mapping’ feature, instead of the hdr. Only caution I keep telling myself, is to be careful to not overdue it. It can get ‘shocking’ and for a time look really good, but then later I realize I have gone against the grain of my own vision and aesthetics. I don’t want my work to look like something from the CSI Miami TV show… I would recommend the program tho. Give it a try.

    by the way, your church shot is very beautiful, well done.

  2. I downloaded the photomatrix program a few minutes ago and am playing with it. I also don’t want to create super-real images, but natural ones. There is an option for Exposure Fusion which has worked much better for me than the HDR option, which as I say creates some awful artifacts with moving lights etc.

  3. Ken – yes. If you’re not careful, you can get swept into the super realism or whatever you call it look where HDR just goes too far (at least for my taste) but as you can see, it can also be used for natural-looking images that are just difficult to get any other way because the dynamic range is too great. Very interesting program and much easier to use than PS.

  4. Nicely done! Welcome to the HDR world, Dave. I would have never expected you experimenting with it. For me, your blog was alway THE escape from HDR.

  5. Oliver – don’t worry – I expect my HDR will be low-key and used for slightly different purposes than most of what I see it used for which is what I’d call hyper-reality. I suspect that unless I label it as HDR it won’t be all that obvious to the non-initiated.

  6. Dave, the photo is beautiful, but this is actually not a church, but rather the Central Synagogue at Lex & 55th Street.

    Try to see the interior – it’s really worth it, and would probably yield some interesting photos.

  7. Steve, could I hire you as my consultant. You know I never know what I’m shooting unless it’s the lipstick building or the flat iron building. I rarely even know what street I’m on. I’m going to tell you something – I thought of you that morning as I passed the lipstick building – thinking what a good person you’d be to go shooting with me – just to tell me what in the world I’m shooting and the background information about the building. Thanks for the infor so that at some point I can label the thing properly; and yes, I’ve been thinking about using this technique inside some of these buildings if they don’t balk at a tripod.

  8. Hi Dave – I’ll be your consultant any day! 😉 what an honor that would be for me.

    BTW, I’m taking a bunch of my local photo friends on another excursion to Central Park on Sat Apr 17th – maybe we can get together that weekend. Actually, my wife and I will be in Manhattan from Friday evening through Sunday 1pm – she’ll be busy at a workshop almost all that time, and I’ll be overdosing on NYC photography.

    Your photo brings back so many good memories – I used to pass by Central Synagogue twice each day on my way to and from work at the former GE Building (now “Tower 570” at Lex and 51st.)

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