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HDR Photos

The rainy season was supposed to have ended a while back, but it seems to have been extended into this week, one of my vacation weeks. We had a couple of inches of rain a few days ago, an inch and a half today, and anywhere from 2-4 inches forecast for tomorrow through Sunday noon. Sheesh.

There was a bit of a break yesterday, though, so I went to the Jongpo Ocean Park walkway to take some photos and process them using a technique known as high dynamic range (HDR). In short, HDR photography attempts to capture the full range of all the dark areas and all the very light areas that might not be normally possible in a standard digital photo. For example, a darkly shaded area on a sunny day might not be able to capture all the detail in the shadows and might overexpose the brightly lit areas. In HDR photography, several shots are taken, and some of them are intentionally underexposed, some are overexposed and one is taken at normal exposure. Special software lets you combine these different exposures into one, with the result being that detail can be seen in the shadows and the bright areas aren’t overexposed, or “blown out.” That’s the simple explanation.

Yesterday was one of those days where we had some bright sunshine and dark clouds present in the late afternoon hours, usually one of the best shooting times of the day. I took a bunch of HDR photos and processed them. Some of the results are below. Unfortunately, I didn’t use my tripod, so they’re not the crispest of shots. Still, they give some sense of the potential of this type of photography. One result of this style is that you can use the software to give some very surreal (some would say unreal) shots. I think artistic is a better word, one that is best applied to results from photographers that are more familiar with this style than me. Still, here are a few of my first attempts.

Here’s the original photo of the new bridge spanning Dolson Island with the mainland. (Hmmm, is it my imagination or are the two spans off a foot or two from hooking up exactly?)

Here’s the HDR shot.

I’ve got a lot more detail in the hill to the right and better coloring in the large cloud in the middle, as well as in other areas. (Click the photos, of course, for larger shots.)

Here’s another one of the two spans. In the original, the foreground boats lack much detail or color. Here, they’re much more vibrant.

Ok, now for the more “artsy” stuff. In this one, the apartment buildings on the hill were very dark in the normally exposed shot and the red Hamel Light was merely a colorless silhouette, due to the brilliance of the sky. Here, I’m able to draw out their details while simultaneously bringing out detail in the clouds.

This one’s even more surreal.

Finally, here’s a shot of the walkway itself, sort of a “study in blue.” For this shot and the above two, definitely click for the larger photos.

I’ll be posting more of these types of shots from time to time, as the situation merits. Leave me a comment to let me know what you think. More later.

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