Nature Notes

February 26, 2009

Under the Skyline: HDR

Filed under: HDR,Ontario — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 7:00 am
Skyline Bridge, Burlington,Ontario

Skyline Bridge, Burlington,Ontario

One of the things that HDR processing seems to suit is industrial scenes, and large concrete structures.

For these shots under the Skyline Bridge, I abandoned my usual approach of a light hand with HDR processing and let loose to bring out detail in the concrete and metal.

Skyline Bridge, Burlington,Ontario


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February 23, 2009

Tropical Towel Store

Filed under: Costa Rica,HDR — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 7:00 am
Tropical Towel Store

Tropical Towel Store

When I made this image a few years ago in Costa Rica, I loved the scene with it’s great color but when I downloaded I was disappointed. The harsh light had caused deep shadows and washed out the color.

When I recently came upon it, I processed it with Photomatix in HDR (High Dynamic Range), all it needed was a light touch to bring it to what I had seen in the first place.

Of course, it would not have been possible, if I had not shot in RAW.


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February 22, 2009

Maple Street Covered Bridge, Vermont

Filed under: Covered Bridge,Vermont — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 7:00 am
Maple Street Covered Bridge, Vermont

Maple Street Covered Bridge, Vermont

When Built: 1865

Builders: Builder Unknown

Description: Also known as the Lower Bridge, this 57 foot bridge, spans Mill Brook on Maple Street in Fairfax village

This is part of a series on Vermont’s Covered Bridges. You can find an index here.


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February 19, 2009

Photoshop Tutorial – Quick and Dirty Cast Correction

Filed under: Photoshop Tutorial — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 7:00 am
Image with blue cast

Image with blue cast

I took this photo of a Common Pochard in La Camargue, France. A first glance tells me that it has a decided blue cast because there is a simple process to get rid of it. It goes like this.

Make a duplicate layer Layer>>Duplicate Layer
Make that layer the average color for the image. This will be the dominant cast Filter>>Blur>>Average
Change this color to its opposite complement Image>>Adjustment>>Invert
Now we’ll change the current layer mode from Normal to Color. This is best done by changing the Box in the upper left of the layers menu. Change Layer mode to Color
At this point we should have a gray image as we canceled all the color. It remains just to adjust the Opacity of this layer to suit. Often 15-20% is plenty but in our example, I changed it 30%. It is easily adjusted in the box in the upper right of the layers pattern. Lower opacity to suit.

If you set up this procedure in an Action, you can do it in seconds. You can download the following action and load it into your Actions menu. After running it, you need only adjust the Opacity (I have the action set at 12% opacity)

Download Cast Correct Action

After

After

Index to Photoshop Tutorials.

This tutorial is a part of the Photoshop Workflow Series

 


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February 16, 2009

February 9, 2009

Making an HD HDR Video-Heart of the City

Filed under: Cityscape,HDR,Processing Tips,Timelapse — Tags: , , , — Harold Stiver @ 2:46 pm


Toronto- Heart of the City
from Harold Stiver on Vimeo.

This video can be viewed in HD and full screen by clicking on the link “Toronto-Heart of the City” above and then clicking on the Full screen icon on the bottom right of the video there.

Following is the process I used to shoot and process the above HD (High Definition) HDR (High Dynamic Range) Video.

Equipment

I used a Canon 5D2 with a 17-40mm lens in AV mode. The file quality was set for sRAW2 which is 2784 pixels wide, sufficient to create HD Video. Since there may be some flicker between the frames when the lens is not shot wide open, it was set at f/4. ISO was set at at 200 in order to minimize noise created in HDR processing. I used a solid tripod screwed tight. An Aperture Remote Timer (Intervalometer) was set for a 10 second interval between shots. The review screen on the camera was turned off.

I planned to shoot about 800 frames and a result of 50 seconds of video.

HDR Processing

I used Photomatix to batch process Single File Conversions to HDR files at the default settings which provided a realistic look. This took about 8 hours of processing time. These were then Batch Processed to 8 Bit TIFFS which took another 4 hours of processing.

Processing Frames in Photoshop

I recorded a Photoshop Action to apply to the files. For this video I re-sized it to 1280 by 720 pixels and  I also applied a bit of curves to increase contrast.If needed, I could also have done things like dust and noise removal. This took another hour of processing time.

Compiling and Rendering

The files were brought into Sony Vegas, and compiled with credits and music before rendering as HD WMV. This was then uploaded to Vimeo.

Some Thoughts

Photomatix occasionally stopped saving TIFF output and had to be re-started. On its own, it was not a big problem, but I had initially batched a conversion to HDR files and a tonemapping to 8 Bit TIFF to run overnight. When it stopped saving TIFF output (Memory leak?), it erased all of the files, which was very annoying. I subsequently did the conversion in two steps, one to HDR, then one to TIFF output to avoid this. You may want to consider this if you use Photomatix.

If you happen to be using sRAW2 files, make sure you are updated to at least Photomatix 3.1.3.


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February 8, 2009

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Filed under: Birds,California — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 7:00 am
California Quail

California Quail

Within an hours drive north of San Francisco is the Point Reyes National Seashore, a fascinating place to spend some time. The Point Reyes Peninsula is separated from the rest of mainland California by the San Andrea Fault and there are places where you can see this directly as the ground has shifted in the past.

The visitor center has a trail that passes through open woodland where you can expect to see Nuttall’s and Acorn Woodpeckers, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Song and Savannah Sparrow, Bushtit, Spotted and California Towhees, Pacific Slope Flycatcher, and the Red-shafted form of the Northern Flicker. The California Quail is easily seen.

Bobcat

Bobcat

While driving through the campground this Bobcat made an appearance.

The road down to the lighthouse passes by some working ranches and you may see Red-shouldered Hawk, Western Meadowlark, Brewer’s Blackbird, and White-crowned Sparrow.

 

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February 6, 2009

Increasing Depth of Field (CS4)

Filed under: Photoshop Tutorial — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 7:00 am

Front

Front

Middle

Middle

Back

One of the new features in Photoshop CS4 is the ability to Increase the Depth of Field of a final image by composing multiple images of the same subject taken at different points of focus.

In order to test this I set up some sophisticated and expensive equipment. I jammed three pens into a cardboard box. I used a Canon 180mm Macro lens which has a very small depth of field and took three images, manually focusing on each of the pens in turn. The processing is as follows:

  • I stacked the three images as layers.  Files>>Scripts>>Load files into Stacks (Check “Attempt to automatically Align Source Images”)
  • Click on the three layers in the layers view to select them
  • Edit>>Autoblend Layers (Check Stack Images and Seamless Tones and Colors)

Photoshop makes masks of each, choosing those parts that have the most detail. The resulting image is below.

Resulting Image

Resulting Image

A pretty good result although it was admittedly not a tough test. I did a quick test with a more complex landscape scene, and there were a few small things that needed cleanup after.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. While Photoshop will align the images, you want them very close. Use a tripod, mirror lockup, shutter release.. anything to keep a tight precise result.
  2. This is a very memory intensive operation. I reduced the files to 6mg and 8 bit to make it easier. This becomes even more important with larger number of files stacked.
  3. You can also stack the images in Bridge and use the Edit>>Align Layers Command in Photoshop.

Macro shooters should find this feature very useful.

Index to Photoshop Tutorials.

This tutorial is a part of the Photoshop Workflow Series


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