"Go as far as you can see; when you get there you'll be able to see farther." ~ Thomas Carlyle
I have a second-hand camera with one lens. I have a 9-year-old computer that I bought for my son when he was in university. I think my printer is a little newer, but I can’t remember, but I don’t print many photos on it because the quality is less than desirable and the ink is expensive. I have so far resisted the urge to buy Photoshop; I do my editing on Gimp, which is free. I’m still to keep this ‘hobby’ affordable.
But I am seriously tempted to spend some money right now. I have been admiring the Urbex HDR work of people like Chris Jones and Andre Govia, the landscapes of Dan Jurak and more eclectic work of Steve Rob and Chris McLoughlin among others. They are all done with a technique called HDR, or High Dynamic Range imaging. Since any camera can only record a fraction of the range of light that we see with our eyes, HDR, or image stacking has been developed to create an image that more closely resembles what our eye can see.
I’ve been tortured by blown out skies and water and solid black shadows since I started taking pictures. The forest is my muse, full of dappled sunlight and deep lush shadows, and I’ve never been successful in creating an image that shows what I see.
Inspired by the work of the above photographers and others, I’ve been attempting to do this image stacking and have had disappointing results, until now.
I spent a glorious evening yesterday watching the sun go down just north of town. I found a spot I liked and set up my tripod and took exposure after exposure, bracketing my shots manually because my camera does not have the ability to do that for me. When I got home I chose the seven shots below and plunked them into a trial version of Photomatix that I have to admit I downloaded not because I did a lot of research on HDR software, but because it was the one being used by a lot of the people whose work I like.
And this is what came out when I plunked those pictures into the software.
OK, so this image isn’t perfect, and covered with ugly watermarks, (which I could clone out, but that might be unethical), but there are a lot of adjustments I could make once I learn the software. Nevertheless, it’s damn close to the scene that I enjoyed very much. As I said: I’m tempted.