Pulp Friction

My friend Luís dos Santos and I found these cool piece of machinery in an old abandoned papermill in former East Germany.  Of all the shots I took that day, this one was one on the list for deletion because I just wasn’t feeling it as much as I was the other shots I came home with.  Somehow, looking at it much later, it grew on me, so I decided to post-processed it completely.  I have to admit that I’m glad I did not delete it, as it now ranks up there with some of my other favorites from this location.  You can find some of those favorites here:  1) Big Wheel 2) Warm on the Inside 3) Come downstairs and say Hello: An HDR Collaboration 4) The All-Spark  Do you have a favorite?  By the way, if your interest in the things I think about when post-processing a shot like this, check out the before and after comparison and comments I’ve included in the bottom image.

X100 does HDR… and how!

Yesterday, a visitor to this website asked me how, exactly, I handle shooting High Dynamic Range photography with the X100, particularly when the dynamic range of light on the scene exceeds what a normal five-shot bracket set (+2, +1, 0, -1 and -2) would be able to cover.  More specifically, the reader wanted to know if it was possible to shoot a seven-shot braket set of photos (+3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -3 and -3) with the X100.  Answer:  Yes, absolutely.  In brief, you’ll use the following steps (listed under today’s photo) to do this, and I’ve included a short video tutorial under today’s photograph to walk you through this.  Let me know if this is useful.

1.  Set X100 to Aperture Priority

2.  Make sure EV dial is set to 0 and take one shot at 0 EV

3.  Then, set Drive button on dial of X100 to AE BKT and choose 1 stop increments (as opposed to 1/3 or 2/3)

4.  Now go to the top of the camera and dial the EV down two stops from 0 to -2.

5.  Press the shutter release (this now gives you three exposures (-3, -2 and -1 EV).

6.  Now go to the top of the camera and dial the EV up four stops from -2 to +2.

7.  Press the shutter release (this now give you three exposures (+1, +2 and +3).

8.  Once you’ve done the above, you will have a total of 7 brackets (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 and +3).

Piping up… with a new HDR tutorial

Figure 1.0

For today, I’ve decided to toss together a quick tutorial on my work flow for you all, showing you how I worked my way from from the brackets (figure 1.1 below) to today’s photograph, ‘Piping Up’ (figure 1.0 above).  I’ve done a video version of this in the past, with another photograph, which you can find over on the right side column of my blog, or you can just click here!


Figure 1.1

From Lightroom 3, the software I use to keep my work organized, I will export my brackets (figure 1.1 above) to Photomatix Pro (if you don’t use Photomatix, I recommend it highly for HDR work.  You can save 15% on Photomatix my using the coupon code fotofreqhdr at check out.).  I’ll almost always ‘zero’ things out in Photomatix by clicking on the DEFAULT button, which results in the image you see in figure 1.2 below.

Figure 1.2

With the default settings in Photomatix (figure 1.2 above), I’ll first drag the Strength Slider all the way to the right, before dragging the smoothing slider left and right between 0 and +10.0 until I get something I am happy with.  In this particular case, I settled my smoothing setting in at +8.1. (see figure 1.3 below).

Figure 1.3

If you take a look at the histogram box in figure 1.3 above, you’ll notice that the whites (the lights in this case) are blown out.  So I pulled back the White Point slider to 0.019. Then I dragged my Microcontrast up to +10.0 and my Luminosity to +8.0.  I increased overall brightness by increasing the Gamma slider setting to 0.67.  To get a little more gritty detail into the shot (beyond that provided by the Microcontrast slider), I dragged the Micro-smoothing slider all the way left to 0, ending up with what you see in figure 1.4 below.  Finally, I click the save & reimport button at the bottom of the Photomatix sliders tab to get my “canvas” back into lightroom.

Figure 1.4

Next step is to open all the images in Photoshop as layers, as you can see in figure 1.5 below.  I’ve renamed the layers so you can see how I normally arrange my layers.  You’ll notice I have a Photomatix layer (the image I ended up with in Photomatix) at the top and bottom of the stack, with the bottom just there as a back up in case I need to duplicate and mask part of it in later.

Figure 1.5

Now, with all the layers in place, I take my time masking in bits and pieces of the layers as needed.  Once I’ve masked in all the tasty bits I want from the various brackets, I end up with what you see in figure 1.6 below.  Whew!  No on to some final tweaks!

Figure 1.6

Finally, I use several filters in Photoshop, usually plug-in from Nik Software, that I selectively brush in (with my Wacom Intuos 4 tablet) to taste; you can see those last few layers below in figure 1.7.  That’s pretty much it as far as how I went from my RAW brackets, to Photomatix, into Photoshop and to my final image (figure 1.0 above).  Let me know what you think, and fire away with any questions related to this mini post-processing walk through and tutorial.


Figure 1.7

Alone in the dark

I’m one of those guys who loves being alone in the dark, and I surround myself in darkness whenever I can.  My office is dark, my study is dark, and I suppose my pictures are dark as well.  I think if you look at my body of work, you can see what I mean.  Not that I can’t shoot and process other stuff, but I prefer that kind of work… at least at the moment.  So today I thought I’d let you all take a peek behind the scenes of my workflow to see how how post-process my HDR work.  As you’ll see in the video, I’m a big fan of HDRSoft’s Photomatix Pro, when it comes to pulling my brackets together and tone-mapping my HDR.  So, without further ado, here is the final image and, below that, the video that shows you of how I got there.  Let me know what you think!  (BTW, I’d be grateful if someone could clue me in to how I can properly and center the the video I have up on vimeo with the photo in this blog. I’m using wordpress with P3 and, for some reason, every time I center the video using the ‘Align Center’ radio button, the video disappears and is replaced with only a text link to the video .  Thanks in advance.)

(EDIT: Since posting this, this fine folks at HDR Soft have allowed me the privilege of offering to all of you the coupon code FOTOFREQHDR . That will save you 15% on your purchase of the fantabulous Photomatix Pro (this also works for purchases of Photomatix Pro Plus Bundle, Photomatix Light, Photomatix Plug-In for Apple Aperture, and their Tone Mapping Plug-In for Photoshop CS2/3/4/5.  All you have to do is type the code FOTOFREQHDR or fotofreqhdr into the “Coupon Code if available” box and you save some cold hard cash!)

Fotofreq’s HDR Post-Processing Workflow from fotofreq on Vimeo.

Chillin’ in the Crib

So here is a shot I worked on for a bit this evening. I’ve included a few shots below the finished photograph showing you snapshots I captured during post-processing. Of course the workflow video will be much more helpful, but this give you a bot of an idea of where things start (post Photomatix Pro tone-mapping) and where they end up after Photoshop CS5.

Chillin' in the Crib

Right out of Photomatix Pro

A few steps into Photoshop processing

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