Monday, March 17, 2008

HDR from on high

Final HDRi Image using  smooth compressor tone mapping
I think most frequent flyers will know the delight of watching the big billowing cumulus clouds from a plane in the late afternoon. The trouble is attempting to capture this with a digital camera pretty well always gives a disappointingly flat image, and thats before you start looking at the issues of photographing through glass. The real problem is the range of intensity in the light you are viewing, whilst your eye can handle it the camera's CCD sensors and light meter can not, so the camera will probably make some wrong decisions about the exposure. Isn't this exactly what HDR (high dynamic range) techniques are about? Of Course it is. So I took the required bracketed series, (hand held, there is so little room in an airplane seat these days a tripod is definitely out). Since the planeDynamic Photo sliders was moving and some clouds very near I had to use pin warping to get everything lining up between exposures. Then I used my favourite tone mapping regime in dynamic photo , it is called smooth compressor.  You can also do a couple of simple "old fashioned" tonal tweaks, brightening the shadow details (dodge) and darkening the highlights (burn). For those that want to use the colour saturation slider and be able move it fully to the right I have included the eye catching tone mapping below. So next time you are looking out the plane window with your new "duty free" digital camera look up the instructions on EV exposure bracketing and take a series of photos.
Original Exposure (EV=0)HDRi with eye catching tone mapping
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