For the last year or longer, I have been dabbling in HDRI High Dynamic Range Imaging (or so I thought). I have been reading articles, bought all the proper software (Photoshop CS3 Extended and Photomatrix which were both good choices). I have been autobracketing my photos (I started with 3 photos, 1 EV (stop) apart and then moved up to 5 photos 1 EV apart.) I use a tripod, lock my mirror, and use a remote to trigger my camera. I shot all my photos in RAW, which starts you out with a higher dynamic range. So far so good.
However, yesterday, I got the long awaited book that I preordered (before production) “The HDRI Handbook” by Christian Bloch, hot off the press (it can be ordered through Amazon.com).
I couldn’t put the book down. I have been reading it in all my spare time. It has a lot of technical aspects in the beginning, but without that portion, you miss out on a lot of incredible information.
Now here is where some true HDRI photographers are going to be snickering. I am going to list some of my mistakes so that others don’t take the same dumb path I took on their way to HDRI.
Mistake #1. When I autobracketed my shots, I used Aperture mode (OK go ahead and laugh HDRIers). So for all 5 shots, the depth of field changed. This is crucial, you must be in Tv (shutter) mode to bracket your shots. If your camera doesn’t have an autobracket system, you have to do it all manually.
Mistake #2. I should have had 2 EV (stops) between shots instead of one.
Mistake #3. I should have locked the focus or switched to manual focus.
Mistake #4 On a couple of occasions I took 1 RAW image and processed it 5 ways and then ran it thru Photomatrix. Hmmmm. This is similar to dumping a pint of water into a gallon container and calling it a gallon. You don’t end up with a HDRI.
Mistake #5 OK, I switch back and forth between Photomatrix and CS3 extended to see which gives the best image (that is ok, because it varies between programs and images). My big mistake….. I tone mapped the HRDI right away instead of saving the original in a 32 bit format. I also should have edited it in CS3 Extended in the 32 bit format. So, I now have a 8 bit image (I actually did save some as 16 bit image), that shows up great on the Internet. Except for the fact, that my HDRI’s didn’t look as good as others. (See here for an example)
So all of this I have learned up to page 126 of the book (less than half way thru). I will keep you posted as I restart my journey into HDRI. And to all of you that have been doing it right, my hats off to you. I am just getting into the “how to”part of the book and have a long way to go.
Many people might say, who cares, I am not going to be doing HDRI. Think again. The pixel race is over and the camera manufacturers got smart. The race for HDR is on, and just around the corner.