Wednesday, 29 June 2011

It's exhibition time again

If you're in the Grantchester area this weekend, why not drop by at our exhibition and say hello?  Even if you don't like any of the pictures, there will be plenty of tea and cake available...

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Visit to Monach Farm

Enormous thanks are due to Roland Randall and his wife, Dreda, for allowing us to wander around Monach Farm on Saturday afternoon taking pictures.  A wonderful place, and the Caprilatte ice cream is to die for!

These are some of the horses being moved after a heavy day at the Riding Stables.

The goats were endearing, and great characters.  These two had been banished into a barn along with a couple of tractors.

There was an opportunity to photograph the goats being milked, but it was much more fun to take pictures of Homo photographicus instead.

Some more goats, along with a "wannabe" goat: a Highland calf called Buzz Lightyear who is being hand-reared.

 Does my nose look big in this?  Also, it seems like Buzz wasn't the only goat wannabe...

Roland showing us Paddington, his stud boar, who stole the show.

Monach Farm is a great place, and well worth going to one of their open days.  There's always one on August Bank Holiday Monday.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Last gasp before my HDR Efex Pro trial runs out

The more I use HDR Efex Pro, the more I like it. Initially I thought that Exposure Fusion (something which Photomatix does) would be the solution for natural-looking church interiors, for example. After playing with it for a couple of weeks, I'm convinced that careful use of the Nik tone mapping is more than capable of producing a highly natural and realistic looking result. Anyway, judge for yourselves based on the last set of images I was able to create before my evaluation licence expired...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Yet more HDR (but am I getting any better?)

After experimenting with four different HDR programs (Photoshop, Dynamic Photo HDR, Photomatix and Nik HDR Efex Pro) I keep coming back to the last one.  The user interface is so much more intuitive than the others, and - just as with Silver Efex Pro - is designed to be used by photographers in very much the same way as things used to work in the darkroom.

The following images were all processed in HDR Efex Pro, and I was deliberately attempting to achieve as natural a look as possible (given the limitations of the medium).

I also couldn't resist going for a surreal interpretation of some work taking place in the Triforium.  I'm not normally a fan of OTT processing, but this image really seems to work.

Before the 14 day trial runs out on Monday (sob) I've also been experimenting with some other examples of HDR work.  The first is a three picture set, two stops apart, which was hand held.  The auto-align feature of HDR Efex Pro is pretty astonishing (Photoshop made a complete dog's breakfast of the job).

I also tried a couple of "single image" HDR examples, starting from a single RAW file rather than a bracketed set.  Both a bit surreal, but certainly more interesting than the originals (not saying much).

The final example is a bracketed sequence from my Infra Red camera, just to se what the result would look like.

I now need to break the world record when it comes to learning and HDR processing before my trial period runs out.  Either that or break open the piggy bank...

Monday, 13 June 2011

More HDR experiments from Canterbury

I've been playing with, and comparing, three different HDR conversion programs in an attempt to produce something palatable from Canterbury.  I'm impressed by Photomatix, but the user interface is a bit clunky.  The Nik "HDR Efex Pro" is much more refined, but more expensive (naturally).  If I'm lucky I'll have worked out how to use it before the evaluation licence runs out...

First a couple of images I'd already tried using the Photoshop HDR converter.

Neither look particularly natural, I know, but that's partly deliberate.  The rest of the images show the experimentation and learning I'm going through.  Hopefully the results are improving slightly, but I'm yet to be totally convinced.

These images were all produced using Nik HDR Efex Pro, and then modified slightly in Lightroom for straightening and/or cropping.  Not too bad, but still more experimentation is necessary, methinks...

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Canterbury Cathedral

I spent the last three days in Kent with a group of people from Cambridge Camera Club, and part of that trip was a tour around Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday.  I have barely started processing the images I took, but here are a few to be going on with.  I decided that the location was an ideal place to learn about HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, but these are very early days yet.  As you can see below, some of the results are less than successful!  I'm currently evaluating a couple of pieces of software for performing the HDR conversion and tone mapping, which explains the textual "watermark" in some of the pictures.

On the left is the "Exposure Fusion" version, which is much more natural but has failed to preserve details in the brightly lit wall.  On the right is the overcooked version using classic HDR processing and tone mapping.  Not sure the grungy look suits this particular image.

Another comparison with "natural" versus "OTT" processing.  It's pictures on the right which get HDR a bad name, and it's not difficult to see why...

The picture of the pulpit works reasonably well in HDR, as it seems to fit with the vertical distortions caused by the 15mm fisheye lens.  The treadmill is actually high up in the roof space of one of the Cathedral transepts, and was in almost complete darkness.  Not sure I like the way I've processed it, so I'm sure I'll be coming back to this particular picture.  An truly astonishing monument within a monument.

Here the overcooked look actually seems to suit the image rather well.  Maybe it's the curved verticals which help to make the surreal processing more acceptable?  This is probably my favourite HDR conversion to date, but it's clear I've got a long way to go yet.  A book is on order from Amazon!

The last two images from this this first set are straight shots.  On the left is a rather magnificent brass lectern.  On the right is a the amazing ceiling of the tower, which had to be photographed from the middle of a treacherous flight of stairs.  The shield in the middle is, apparently a trap-door.