Monday, November 16, 2009

BOP Studio HDR Workflow Outline

I've been fine-tuning my HDR workflow and decided that it was evolved enough that I should outline it for posterity. I share it here in the chance that someone else might learn something from or teach me something about it. [what is HDR?]

HDR Photo Workflow

  1. Group HDR set images together in Adobe Bridge
  2. Review HDR sets . Give star-rating to desired candidates for easier retrieval.
  3. Discard individual images that are obviously out-of-range.

  4. Process candidate sets in Camera RAW. Most of this can be done globally to the sets except step 3 ("correct chromatic aberration"). which should be double-checked on each image.
    • Set White Balance
    • Enhance Exposure
    • Correct Chromatic Aberration as much a possible
    • Capture-sharpen
  5. Process individual sets in Adobe Bridge to create the high-dynamic range image file via Tools/Photoshop/Merge to HDR*. Find something productive do while waiting. (*Even though "Process Collections in Photoshop" would be easier to invoke than babysitting "Merge to HDR", I don't like to use it because it follows some rules about what images to use that will often leave some out or result in more sets of fewer images than I desire.)
  6. Save merged image from Adobe Photoshop as HDR Radiance files following the naming convention:
    Yearmonthday HDR – Genre – Location – HDRfile#_version#.hdr
    20091106 HDR – Nature – Lake Creek Falls 1_0.hdr
  7. Tone-map HDR files in Photomatix Pro. Save tone-map settings for re-use if processing many similar images.
  8. Save as 16-bit TIFFs.
  9. Post-process TIFF files in Adobe Photoshop and save as PSD files (early and often).

Things to keep an eye out for while working the Adobe Photoshop mojo:

  1. Ghosting artifacts around moving objects
  2. Chromatic Aberration around areas of extreme contrast
  3. Grey, flat tones where local contrast has been over-equalized.
I find that it is often desirable, or even necessary, to composite portions of individual exposures back into the HDR image. I prefer to add the individual exposures as layers and use layer masks to paint-in detail or touch-up artifacts.
Hopefully this will have proved useful to someone other than myself. Please comment, I'd love to know your thoughts on shooting and processing High Dynamic Range photographs.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Scylla and Charybdis

I only wish I could capture the smells and the sounds in these photos too.

The processing continues, but its been slow-going. An entire CF card full of HDR candidates has proven to be quite a task for my poor, feeble-minded PC, but at least its getting the job done. Its going to take a really good sales-pitch to keep me from finally jumping-ship to Macs once this monster dies.

The up-side is that all of this progress-bar time has given me plenty of opportunity to get some stuff done around the office. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New website launches

The new website design has been rolled-out. I think that it creates a more pleasing viewing environment for my photos. Nature shots, which I am primarily attracted to, seem to look better against a dark-neutral background; it must have something to do with the detail and colors that are usually present. I'm hoping that a more serene and relaxing design will encourage clients to dive deeper into my work and, hopefully, encourage them to loosen their wallets a bit in my favor as well. What can I say, I have bills to pay just like everyone else. :)

I am currently working through some really fun photos from a recent foray into the woods. I discovered a place not far from town that is quickly becoming one of my favorite destinations. It seems that there is something magical about Lower Creek Falls as each time I've made a trip out there, I seem to end-up turning a huge corner creatively. The falls themselves aren't that magnificent by Oregon waterfall standards but what makes the area interesting to me is that for 100s of yards past the falls in either direction, the whole river is basically one long, shallow, lazy waterfall ripe with interesting and inspiring vantages.

Lower Creek Falls has proven an important place to me creatively, physically and spiritually and I really look forward to being able to share the images it inspired in me.