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In this course, photographer and author Ben Long details the features, controls, and options in the Canon 5D Mark III digital SLR. The course begins with an overview of what a digital SLR is and takes a tour of the basic camera components. Ben then discusses the basic camera operation: changing lenses, navigating the menus, shooting in automatic mode, reviewing and managing photos on the LCD screen, and transferring photos to a computer.
Next, the course introduces more advanced exposure options: program mode, exposure compensation, ISO adjustments, and more. After Ben briefly defines each option, he shows how to adjust it using the camera controls.
Ben also discusses white balance options, advanced metering and autofocus controls, flash, live view, and video shooting. The course ends with a chapter on maintenance, including sensor- and camera-cleaning and care tips.
Any scene that you look at has a dynamic range; that is, it has a range of brightness. One of the things that complicates the photographic process is that your eye can perceive a much wider dynamic range than your camera can. That is, it can see a much greater range of dark to light. So while your eye might be able to see details in bright highlights, and dark shadows within your scene, your camera will only be able to see detail in one or the other. In high dynamic range imaging, or HDR, you shoot multiple frames, each exposed to capture a different part of the dynamic range, and then you use special software to combine these multiple images into a single final image that has detail across all of its highlights and shadows.
Your camera has the ability to shoot and merge HDR images automatically in camera. I've got a scene with a good amount of dynamic range here. I've got a dark projector over there. I've got those bright flowers back there. Watch what happens if I just take a shot. I am in Program mode, autofocus, evaluative metering. I am just going to take a quick shot, and if I go into playback mode here, you can see that I've got okay detail on the projector over here. As I stand here looking at it with my eye, I can see tremendous detail; much more than I can see in there.
Over here, the flowers are well exposed. I can see detail on them. This is actually what the meter has decided to do is protect the flowers at the expense of the projector. So, though my eye can see detail in both, my camera has to choose between one or the other, and it's chosen to protect the flowers. Now, I could tell it to do something different. I could meter, and then dial in one stop of overexposure on my exposure compensation. Now when I take the shot, I get nice detail on my projector. Look at all this stuff that's opened up in here. That's actually a little brighter than I can see with my eye. But whoa; the flowers have gone out to complete white.
That's just not going to work at all; they're completely overexposed. This is where HDR comes in. I am going to turn my exposure compensation back down to 0, before I forget, and then go into my shooting menu, because in here, over here on the third page, at the very bottom, you will find something called HDR Mode. It's defaulting to Disabled, obviously. Here is where I can turn on an HDR process. This is going to shoot three different images, and combine them to create one image that will have detail in both the shadows and the highlights.
So the first thing I need to do is to turn it on. I do that by changing this Adjust dynamic range option from Disabled to one of these settings. These are simply going to govern how much exposure differential there is between each shot. I can put it on Auto, and the camera will try and calculate the differential itself, or I can specify 1 EV, 2 EV, 3 EV; EV is exposure value. It's roughly the same as a stop. I am going to just put it on put on Auto. The Auto dynamic range option does a very good job of figuring out how much exposure space to put between each shot.
Next they have this thing called Effect. So I'm going to end up with one shot that's underexposed to bring in more detail on the flowers, a shot that's overexposed to bring in more detail in the shadow areas on my projector, and a shot that's exposed normally to pick up all the midtones. Those three images are then going to be combined. How they are combined is controlled by my Effect setting. Natural is really the best way to go. As I go up from here, I am going to start seeing an image that looks really processed. I am probably going to see halos around really bright areas.
I typically find that these are pretty useless, actually. So you're going to be best served by just leaving this on Natural. Continuous HDR lets me control whether the HDR process stops after this shot that I am going to take -- and by shot, I mean three shots that are combined into one HDR -- or if that continues until I explicitly turn it off. Basically, they're saying, we are going to turn HDR off, so that you don't forget that it's on, and screw up your next shot, or they're saying, we're going to leave it on, so that you can continue to work this scene in an HDR mode. I'm going to leave on 1 shot only.
I can also do this shooting handheld, and the camera will try to align the images. I still need work to hold the images very stable, and I want to be sure that Auto Image Align is turned on. Since I'm on a tripod, I am going to set this to Disable. If you leave it enabled, there is a chance your image might get cropped a little bit. Finally, the camera is shooting three images, and then combining them into a fourth image. If I want, I can tell it to save both the three original images, and the merged image, or the HDR image only.
The reason I might choose to save all of them is that if I don't like the camera's results, I can take those original images back home, and merge them on my computer using Photoshop, or special HDR software. For the sake of easy review here, I'm going to switch this to HDR image only. I don't need the original images, and this is going to make it easier for us to do comparisons of the HDR image against the images that I have already shot. So with that all configured, I'm ready to go. So I just frame my shot, which I have already done. I have got autofocus turned on, so I don't need to look through the viewfinder.
I am just going to press the button once, and it shoots all three images, and then merges them, and then shows me the results. Let's go into playback mode here. And I want to issue a very strong caveat here. We have the screen brightness turned up all the way here, so that you can better see the images onscreen through our video cameras, so what you're seeing is actually a little bit different than the actual results I am getting. Unfortunately, the results are looking worse. With the screen brighter, you're seeing these maybe as a little washed out, and you're not seeing detail here that's as good.
But still, I want to show you the difference between this image, and the overexposed image that I shot before, and the original image that I shot. So this image compared to the overexposed. Yes, I've got better detail here in the overexposed image, but here I've got much better detail in my highlights. Then compare it to the original, where I've got very little detail here, compared with what I get in HDR. Again, I'm probably seeing more detail on my screen here than you're seeing on your screen.
I want to look at the histogram to give you a better idea of what I've captured. You can see that though these might look blown out, they're actually not, and I've got a nice range of data across my entire histogram. In the overexposed one, I was blatantly overexposed, and in the original, I actually had a lot of detail in the highlights; not a lot of detail down here. In my HDR, I've got a little more midtone data down here. So when you're going to want to use HDR are those occasions where you want to preserve detail in your shadows, detail in your highlights.
That said, I can guarantee you you're always going to get better HDR results doing the merge yourself on your computer than letting the camera do it for you. If you would like to know more about HDR, you can check out my Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Images course. It will walk you through the entire process of shooting and processing images on your computer.
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