Sunday, April 27, 2008

HDR and Tone Mapping

Inspired by Mysnapz "The Picnic", today me and the 450D discovered how to do auto exposure bracketing (AEB), which basically means taking a series of pictures of the same thing at different exposures. The notion behind this is that you can then blend these photographs together to create what is know as an HDR (High Dynamic Range) photograph, an image that will reflect the range of brightness levels that exist in that particular scene (complete black to white). To merge the photos together you can use photoshop's "Merge to HDR" function or a nice bit of software (free trail available) called Photomatix. Once you have merged into HDR you can play around with "tone mapping" (settings automatically pop up with Photomatix or photoshop tutorial here). This allows you to play with the tonal detail displayed and is really needed to approximate the appearance of HDR images.

The mistakes I made really were with the actual photographs - I only got 3 different exposures as auto bracketing only allows for 3, it is better to have more but as I was doing a self portrait doing it on manual (and running to and fro from the camera to change the setting) was really not an option. Secondly I left autofocus on, this meant the pictures were slightly out of line. Also it's important to set the aperture, because changing aperture (ie having it on auto) also changes depth of field. Basically you want exactly the same photograph many times, all settings the same, apart from the exposure.

The output is the image above. It took a bit more photoshopping than I'd have liked - mostly because the outline of the body was a bit to blurry because of the autofocus. But other than that and adding a slight softfocus and tweaking the tones, it came straight out of the camera (three times). You can see below the progression to the finished image.

Three photographs taken at standard, decreased and increased exposure.

Merged to HDR

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Canon 450D - the start of a new era

So now I have a grown-up toy, the brand new shiny spanking Canon 450D. I agonised for weeks over what my first DSLR would be, in the end it resulted in a standoff between the Canon and the new Nikon D60 and me bending the ear of the nice young man in Station Cameras for a couple of hours. At the end of the day I went for the pricier canon, for no reason other than it just felt "right" in my hands, had more buttons, and was a bit lighter.

My point and shoot Olympus (God Bless) had much of a DSLR's functionality (minus the lens'of course) and during our two year relationship I learned all about things like aperture, shutter speed, ISO, MF etc etc. However, it stopped hitting the mark about 6 months ago. All those little niggles that go unnoticed during those euphoric beginnings when you are really "into" one another started to grate more and more as time went on. The ISO range was limited, the colour matching sloppy, the f.levels just didn't fulfill expectations, and I grew bored of the way it looked and sounded. My eye started to wonder to other cameras, cameras that were more versatile, more fashionable...cameras that had bigger lens'. The Olympus (God Bless) and me were compatible for a long time, but I changed, I wanted more, and it was finally time to move on.

So now I have a new camera in my life. We are still discovering eachother and we haven't produced anything noteworthy yet but that will come. First impressions - the sharpness, clarity and colour matching are FANTASTIC. The macro function on the camera is OK, but as expected I will need a good macro lens to do anything really close up. It's a tad annoying that I can't alter any of the settings on the pre-set functions (e.g. macro, portrait, landscape), not even the exposure, but I should learn how to do my own settings anyway. It makes a very satisfying "clunk" when I take a picture (and no it's not a fake clunk), and it is much speedier starting up and processing pics. Here are some images straight out of the camera (no photoshopping), nothing special.

Nice DOF on AV

As close as I could get on Macro

Also on macro and on an ISO of 800 as the inside lighting wasn't great. Monochrome setting.

My most fantabulous socks to see how colours come out! Pretty accurate!