HDR (Black and White)

night-lake-9774

The best thing (for me) that came out of the hdr experiments, was the tonemapping tool in Photomatix. I have created a monochrome preset that seems to work very well for converting raw images to b&w. The shot above is an old one – done with the Rebel something or other in 2004. If I were making corrections in Lightroom, there would be a bunch of gradients, and other techniques for dodge / burning areas.

This comes straight out of the tonemapping program. Yes, you could then use it as a starting point and fine-tune this and that in Lightroom or Photoshop. But essentially, the tonemapping (and I did two prints for customers today using it) gives this excellent control over both overall contrast and tonality, as well as “micro” areas of the image.

You can setup presets to give different effects depending on the source image and what you want to do with it.

* * *

59th-untouched9774

Original “flat” version “zeroed out”

tonemap-1

Default Settings in Tonemap (Photomatix)

Let me try this again because I wasn’t clear about the whole workflow to do this shot.

1. In Lightroom, I have a preset. It sets the curve to linear. It zeros out all the attributes. And it uses the calibration that I like, which is faithful. This produces a very flat image. Next to no contrast. Nothing dropping off the edges of the histogram.

2. Then I created a preset for this type of input image in Tonemapping. It brings up different areas at different contrast levels etc. I call it Monochrome 1. I have two other presets, one for images that are coming in too contrasty, and one for images that are just too flat. But I am not fusing three images together, though the preset will work as well with them. And I am not creating two virtual images. It is one image.

The problem that I have with multiple images is that if anything is moving – tree branches, ducks, etc. the result is not pleasing to me, i.e. not the normal blur you get from using one image. On the other hand – if the initial scene really is contrasty, and nothing much is moving, or your shutter speed is fast enough, then fine – combine them and then tonemap them.

Here are the tonemapping settings for this monochrome image.

tonemap-2

I’m not saying that this will work for all images, or that I will always use it as is, but it is a good start for both my 5d raw images that I want to go to monochrome with, and my 40D and whatever the early Rebel was called. The idea is to try and give the tonemapping program all the data you can. You may be able to make all the changes you need with tonemapping, or it may be an intermediate step and you’ll import it back into Lightroom or Photoshop. But the point is, it surprised me how well the program works for dealing with both flat, and high contrast images. And of course – it’s another reason why you always want to shoot raw if you care about what you’re shooting. It’s just that you never know what piece of software is in the pipeline, or how a new converter may be able to pull more detail from the highlights than your current one.

Anyway, I don’t mean to do a commercial for Photomatix. I haven’t compared it with other programs as it works. And you can download it and like most software try it for free. Tonemapping is just one part of the program. Obviously the main parts are for creating HDR images.

Notes

– I am slowly adding the members blogs to the Photoblogger Society (bottom of sidebar) so members can get an idea of what their sites will look like.  Each one gets a separate page.  I hope to finish this today.

– If you are driving a Toyota and it starts to accelerate on it’s own, can’t you slip it into neutral, brake it, and pull over?  I’m serious about the question.  Or does it lock up the transmission as well and turn you into a hurtling projectile.  Now that would be bad.

– Tomorrow is last day of sale.

– I have one more order (a lot of 5 x 7’s to get out)

– The Epson 7800 is working like a charm these days (knock wood).  The secret cure was to change the maintenance tank, even though it said there was 30% left.  That has to be some sort of estimate since it doesn’t have a chip on the thing, and does it know how much of each ink I’m using.  In other words, I’m using much more of the three blacks than the average person. **Correction. It does have a chip (Ken Smith).

– Beautiful spring day.  Plan to actually get out and do some infrared.

Tonemapping in Central Park

night-lake-9774

The best thing (for me) that came out of the hdr experiments, was the tonemapping tool in Photomatix.  I have created a monochrome preset that seems to work very well for converting raw images to b&w.  The shot above is an old one – done with the Rebel something or other in 2004.  If I were making corrections in Lightroom, there would be a bunch of gradients, and other techniques for dodge / burning areas.

This comes straight out of the tonemapping program.  Yes, you could then use it as a starting point and fine-tune this and that in Lightroom or Photoshop.  But essentially, the tonemapping (and I did two prints for customers today using it) gives this excellent control over both overall contrast and tonality, as well as “micro” areas of the image.

You can setup presets to give different effects depending on the source image and what you want to do with it.

* * *

59th-untouched9774

Original “flat” version “zeroed out”

tonemap-1

Default Settings in Tonemap (Photomatix)

Let me try this again because I wasn’t clear about the whole workflow to do this shot.

1. In Lightroom, I have a preset.  It sets the curve to linear.  It zeros out all the attributes.  And it uses the calibration that I like, which is faithful.  This produces a very flat image.  Next to no contrast.  Nothing dropping off the edges of the histogram.

2. Then I created a preset for this type of input image in Tonemapping.  It brings up different areas at different contrast levels etc.  I call it Monochrome 1.  I have two other presets, one for images that are coming in too contrasty, and one for images that are just too flat.  But I am not fusing three images together, though the preset will work as well with them.  And I am not creating two virtual images.  It is one image.

The problem that I have with multiple images is that if anything is moving – tree branches, ducks, etc. the result is not pleasing to me, i.e. not the normal blur you get from using one image.  On the other hand – if the initial scene really is contrasty, and nothing much is moving, or your shutter speed is fast enough, then fine – combine them and then tonemap them.

Here are the tonemapping settings for this monochrome image.

tonemap-2

I’m not saying that this will work for all images, or that I will always use it as is, but it is a good start for both my 5d raw images that I want to go to monochrome with, and my 40D and whatever the early Rebel was called.  The idea is to try and give the tonemapping program all the data you can.  You may be able to make all the changes you need with tonemapping, or it may be an intermediate step and you’ll import it back into Lightroom or Photoshop.  But the point is, it surprised me how well the program works for dealing with both flat, and high contrast images.  And of course – it’s another reason why you always want to shoot raw if you care about what you’re shooting.  It’s just that you never know what piece of software is in the pipeline, or how a new converter may be able to pull more detail from the highlights than your current one.

Anyway, I don’t mean to do a commercial for Photomatix.  I haven’t compared it with other programs as it works.  And you can download it and like most software try it for free.  Tonemapping is just one part of the program.  Obviously the main parts are for creating HDR images.

Columbus, Central Park

columbus-0254

(Infrared and ‘Tonemapped’)

How this shot was done: this was early in my digital infrared days.  It wasn’t done with a modified digital camera, but by sticking an infrared filter (I don’t remember which one anymore) on the 40D and doing a fairly long exposure.  The resulting image was all RED.  I then created a profile that could be used with the ADOBE DNG profile editor app (free) that gave me a more acceptable color temp.  Still, not very good – but when I stuck it into tone-mapping – suddenly this image popped out at me.

**NOTE**

1. Print prices have gone down again.  I couldn’t sell enough of them to make the ‘outsourcing’ work.  I will still use WCI for large prints, but after several weeks of very slow business which corresponds with the price increases for outsourcing – I can see that it won’t work.

2. There are only about 8 limited editions (11 x 14) of Poet’s Walk left.  In other words, I have nearly sold 100 of them at that size.  Some people care about such things (collectors) so it just means that there won’t be any limited editions of that print at that size.

3. The black-lined grid screen for the 5D is impossible to see at night.  It’s great during the day – but disappears in the dark.  I don’t remember having that problem with the Rollei TLR or with the view camera.  Maybe they were etched into the screen differently.

4. I’ll get in touch with an Epson technician today, or at least try to.  I lost track of that problem while I buried myself in HDR and color.  Though I may have figured something out.  Will write more about it if I have solved the problem.  I do have a work around for sure.  A kludge – but it works.  But I made a change yesterday with the 7800 and I want to see if it works today.

5. As noted, even though I may not end up working in color, I can say that I have gone pretty far with HDR and especially with the tone-mapping tool which is wonderful, whether for color or b&w.  It seems like there’s always one more thing I want to try.

59th Street

Nothing special… just a straight conversion from color to b&w with one frame. 1600 ASA. Sometimes simple is better.

59th-street-0140

I think it was Ty that mentioned how Night Jogger was better in terms of the motion blur than the HDR stuff and I have to agree. But they are two different processes.  With HDR you are taking separate shots and combining them – so although each frame may have a blurred figure, when you combine them, you are going to have the streak starting in different spots.  It may be fine with rivers and such where you really can lay them on top of each other and there is no specific blurred object, but if you had shot Blurred Runner with HDR you’d get three separate images of the blurred runner.   So, for example, the blurred figures in this shot appear natural – they aren’t duplicated, or triplicated. People are used to this effect.  On the other hand – when you combine a lot of frames together – (see the lunchtime on fifth avenue shots below) you get tons of separate objects (people) in different spots, which is an interesting but more disturbing effect – unless you are into that or have been exposed (no pun intended) to the effect.  In other words, it isn’t yet part of the photographic vocabulary.

59th Street – Dusk

59th-dusk-0117

One of those just about over the top HDR shots I’d better let sit a while; and am tempted to correct the converging verticals in photoshop, something I almost never do.  Well, like I say – let it have a rest.  Yes – obviously from here on in everything is 5D so I don’t need to keep repeating that (40D arrived safely with James); and Sigma lens should arrive in FL on Monday.

And just about anything that’s remotely static right now is HDR – so I’ll just tag it and not go into that much more.  The trick when you’re shooting moving stuff like horses, even these guys that are taking a break is to setup the shot and wait / hope for that second where you can squeeze in the 3 shots without horse movement.  It’s all alot of fun for me – this color phase.  You get to make so many choices – is the blue sky too blue.  Should the foreground be brought up a bit.  Bring down the blown out lights or let ’em be.  And do it all so that it has a somewhat natural feel to it.  Tricky stuff (at least for me) compared to when I do b&w which seems to present less problems.

I think that subconsciously, and now consciously I’m working to build up a color portfolio; not so much from the selling point of view – but to get to a point where you can sit back and contemplate the portfolio as a whole – whether it has jumped into postcard territory (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or whether that certain wave of enjoyment you get comes across to others.

The real trick is not to over analyze a new path (as this one is) since you have no idea where it’s going. But together with the perspective controls in Photoshop, and with combining fewer images, I’m starting to get the idea of how this can give you the view camera feeling.. . without the weight…  but with lots of clean pixels…  I don’t quite have it all figured out yet but it feels like that’s where this is headed…