HDR (High dynamic range) photography

Melbourne at sunset

Nat and I are preparing for the next leg of our journey, one month in New Zealand from Christchurch to Auckland by campervan, and are excited to fly in a couple of days.  In preparation for the stunning scenery that everyone has been telling us to expect, I have been playing with some new techniques like high dynamic range photography; the process of combining two or more pictures when the tonal range of the scene extends beyond what the camera is able to capture.  In other words, when the difference between the lightest and darkest part of the scene is too drastic for the camera’s sensor to capture in a single photo, two or more photos are taken at different exposures and later combined in photo editing software.  I try to use this technique sparingly as I find the results can very easily be pushed too far resulting in garish colours and too many elements of the scene competing for attention.  Instead I prefer to use this technique to mimic the dynamic range we are able to see with our eyes (which much exceeds the dynamic range of modern cameras) to produce a natural (if punchy) looking photo.  Any constructive criticism is welcome.

Church at sunrise

A church at sunrise near where we work in Fitzroy Melbourne.

From the roof at my workThis is the view from the roof of my work.  Shh…

Flinders station

Flinders street station is the iconic commuter train station in central Melbourne.  I feel this picture is bordering on the edge of too much post-production but Nat really likes the look of it.  On a tripod I took the first photograph to properly expose the station and people.  I used my new Hoya 9-stop neutral density filter to slow the shutter speed enough to blur the moving crowd.  The second picture was taken to properly expose the bright sky to retain the detail in the clouds in the corner.  These two pictures were merged to create the one above and I did some dodging and burning (selective brightening and darkening) to make the front of the building stand out.  Other than that I didn’t boost the colours at all but I still feel the pictures seems a little unnatural.  Thoughts, comments and criticisms are welcome.