Monday, December 14, 2015

Various photos, various techniques

 I'm always playing with different photographic techniques. A few different (for me) attempts follow.

A 1st-cycle Ring-billed Gull prepares to drop onto the water. Bernie Master and I headed to Springfield Lake near Akron yesterday, to try and see a Kelp Gull that has been in the area for over a week. We were joined by well over a hundred other birders, but no luck - the rare gull stood all of us up. Such is life on the rare bird circuit.

We arrived before it was light, and as dawn brightened the landscape and it became ever more apparent that the Kelp Gull was not on the lake, I turned the lens to much more mundane Ring-billed Gulls. The light was horrid in nearly every way - wasn't much of it, and what there was came from a suboptimal direction. Normally I'd probably not even click the shutter in such a situation.

But what the heck. I decided to try for some "creative blurs". I've seen photos dubbed as creative blurs which to me have been bad photos masquerading under an artsy name. And I've seen creative blurs which looked cool and very out-of-the-box. I don't know where mine stands on the scale of good to bad, but I rather like it. This gull was shot with the Canon 7D Mark II and 500mm f/4 II + 1.4x extender, at f/5.6, ISO 1250, 1/320, with +2/3rds exposure compensation.

This cliff face is in Clear Creek Metro Park, and is a local legend known as Written Rock. Back in the day, it was covered with colorful graffiti from toe to crest. I used to marvel at how the taggers could access the inaccessible areas of the cliff to spray their drivel. When Franklin County Metro Parks took over Clear Creek, they blasted the rocks clean and have kept it that way. Written Rock is an exceptionally colorful piece of sandstone, but hard to photograph. The high contrast between dark and light areas of the cliff, and the brightly lit sky around the borders, means some parts of the image will be greatly over or under exposed.

Enter High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. I'd wanted to fool with HDR for some time, and have finally gotten around to it. Here's how it works: Select the composition, and frame your image with the camera mounted on a tripod. A remote shutter release is best, as you don't want the camera to move at all between shots. Then take a series of three to five images ranging from overexposed enough to light the darkest areas, to underexposed enough to not blow out the brightest areas. Then use special software (I used HDRsoft) to blend them all together. The result should be a composite photo that is fairly evenly lit throughout - something that couldn't really be done with a single image, at least without all manner of post-processing work that would be beyond me.

As always, click the photo to expand

This is Rock House in the Hocking Hills, and this composition is fraught with peril for the photographer. I am crouched in the shady apse of a rock overhang, shooting out into much brighter light of varying degrees. Such a situation is where HDR excels, bringing up the dark areas and toning down the bright areas. I used five different images to create this shot.

Ash Cave, one of the largest and most beautiful of the Hocking Hills' incredible rock formations. This was my first effort at intentionally taking images in the field with HDR in mind. As with the previous two, five images of different exposures were melded together to create the image. This photo is closer to what the eye sees than what is recorded by a single photo. Your eyes moderate the very bright light from the sky in the photo's upper lefthand corner, and brighten the shady recesses on the right. A single photo would be overexposed on the left, or grossly underexposed on the right. HDR allows one to have their photographic cake, and eat it, too.

I look forward to more experimentation, HDR and otherwise.


C said...

"bad" photos really make me appreciate the human eye (brain?)

Nichole said...

I'd like to give you a huge compliment on the Rock House and Ash Cave photos. I have been there and this is exactly what it is like to view them. I've taken photos while visiting and I usually delete them because I never capture the true experience.

Judy G said...

I continue to appreciate your technical commentary in companion with the engaging images.