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In this course, photographer Ben Long describes the concepts and techniques behind high dynamic range (HDR) photography, a technique used to create images that have a wider range between the lightest and darkest areas of a scene than a digital camera can typically capture. The course begins with some background on dynamic range, on how camera sensors detect shadows, and on the kinds of subjects that benefit from HDR. Ben then describes and demonstrates several methods of generating HDR images, starting with single-shot HDR, which relies on masking to subtly enhance the dynamic range of a shot. Next, the course covers multi-exposure HDR, which involves shooting several photos of a scene, each at a different exposure, and then combining them using software tools. Ben demonstrates how to use Photoshop and the popular Photomatix software to process HDR images whose appearance ranges from subtle to surreal.
Time lapse video is the process of shooting a single frame, waiting a while, shooting another frame, waiting a while, and so on and so forth and taking all those frames and stitching them together or sequencing them together into a movie. What you get is a greatly accelerated sense of time. You can do HDR time lapse by shooting a bracketed set of frames, waiting a while, shooting another bracketed set of frames, and so on and so forth at regular intervals. I got this out the front window of my apartment a few years ago and the process is pretty simple.
Once you're setup for it, then there's just a tremendous amount of processing you have to do. I put my camera on a tripod. I open the window. I knew that there was going to be a lot of weather blowing through that day because there had been the previous couple of days. I got an intervalometer for my camera. It's basically a remote control. Like a remote shutter release, but this particular one also has the ability to program it to take a picture at regular intervals. So I said, I want you to take a picture every-- I don't remember what the interval was. I think it was maybe every 10 minutes for 8 or 9 hours.
It also let me tell it how long it should hold the shutter button down. So I said, press the shutter button once every 10 minutes for eight hours and each time hold it down for a second. I put my camera in Burst mode and set auto-bracketing. Did all the things I would do if I were shooting in HDR. Because it was holding the button down for a second and because my camera can shoot three frames per second, I was getting a perfect bracketed set every time. I then took those images into the computer and batch processed all those bracketed sets and then tone mapped everything.
Obviously, what makes this interesting is the clouds which look great. The foreground, the city, has a number of different problems, and I think they're largely related to the state of HDR processing at that time. If you look you'll see a shimmering on the building elements here. The HDR software was not able to-- and I am sure it's because of the shadows that were going over. We are not able to process the buildings identically every time, so they get this weird look.
I love this smoke thing here. It looks like a piece of cotton flying around, and the trees are all kind of nervously waving which I think is also kind of cool. But yeah, there is all this kind of motion noise in front. I have not tried one of these in a while. I don't know if newer versions are any better. Part of the problem is that the tone mapping process involves largerly local contrast. So maybe the contrast in here to determine the tone of the pixel in the center and with the clouds moving over all that contrast is constantly changing.
So it could just be that this is just not a easy thing to pull off. Some workarounds would be to do in video just what we have done in some of our still images. I could if I wanted take a single still image of my foreground, throw that into a video compositing program like After Effects, and composite that with my wonderfully animated sky and probably come up with something that would work. That would give me a nicer foreground.
Couple of other things to be careful of, you can see as things go on there are couple of places where there's a bump in the camera. I set it on a tripod and left for the day, but I have the window open and it was very, very windy. Obviously, it's why these clouds are moving through and I think there are few times where a gust of wind knocked the camera around and gave the camera a bump. And it got worse after dark. Everything gets really shaky here and this is because of camera shake from the shutter going up and down and it using a long shutter speed as the sun went down.
So you can try turning on the Mirror Lock -Up feature of your camera, although on mine it actually doesn't help because it still comes down after each time. So this would be a process of trying to control exposure a little better, maybe not letting it go to such a long exposure, turning up the ISO, something like that to try to get a better sharpness in here. So it takes a long time to do the shoot and it takes a really long time to do the processing. so you want to maybe do some shorter tests first to test your methodology and make sure that you can get the results that you want.
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