Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Today's Sunset

Stormy Night

Early in the evening, a thunderstorm was raging behind 觀音山, probably somewhere around 桃園.  It put up an amazing show of lightening as seen from our balcony.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

HDR for Interior

In one of the webinar of Unified Color, the maker of HDR Expose 2,

the photographer, Michael James, lets out a little secret of how to balance the indoor white balance with the out door white balance in Photoshop.  I followed his suggestion and did an exercise myself.

Five bracket shots, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2  EV apart were shot with D700, all the tungsten colored lights inside the living room were turned on.  An additional image was shot using SB-910 flash mounted on the camera with the head pointed toward the ceiling.  The RAW files from the five bracket shots were directly imported into the HDR Expose 2 and a HDR image was created using the Optimal preset and saved as TIF file.  The RAW file of the flash photograph was brought to Capture NX2 to create a TIF file.  The two TIF files were then opened simultaneously in Photoshop CS4.

The flash image was "Select All", "Copy", "Paste" onto the HDR image as first layer with the HDR image as the base layer.  Both layers were then aligned together using "Auto-Align Layers...".  The first layer of flash image was then selected, the blend tap was change from "normal" to "color", a perfect white balanced image appeared, for both the indoor theme and the outdoor theme.  The layers were flattened (Flatten Image) and saved as a new TIF file.

The new file was further adjusted for color saturation, contrast and sharpness in Capture NX2.  Finally, the image was brought into PTLens for automatic lens distortion correction and slight rotation and prospective adjustment.  The final image was cropped by Capture NX2.

The outdoor theme may seems to have a little green tint, that is actually the color of the tinted glass on the patio.  The color of the sky and mountain above the tinted glass still has a good white balance.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Photomatix Pro vs. HDR Expose 2

When creating HDR image, I always struggled between creating an image that has a more dramatic look or creating an image that is as realistic as possible.  Photomatic Pro has been the one that I used for the last two years.  HDR Expose 2 is the one I just downloaded.  I like both programs because they allow me to import RAW image directly into the program to create the HDR image without going through the RAW converting program.

The following HDR images are created from 5 bracket shots, 1 EV apart between each shot.  They were photographed at Colmar, France.

 This one is tonemapped in Photomatix Pro.

 This one is fused in Photomatix Pro.

This one is created with HDR Expose 2 then adjusted with Capture NX2.

The two programs work quite differently.  In Photomatix Pro, I have to try hard in order to create a HDR image with less so called HDR-look.  On the other hand, I often obtain a relatively flat image in HDR Expose 2 that I need to bring into Capture NX2 to further adjust it.  Thus for me, Photomatix Pro gives me images that have more HDR-look.  The HDR Expose 2 gives me images that look more realistic.  Both are good but serve different purpose.

Both programs create images in TIF format, thus I can no longer use the automatic lens distortion function of Capture NX2 to correct the image.  I bring the images to PTLens for the automatic lens distortion adjustment as well as any necessary prospective correction.  It is much more practical than Photoshop for this purpose.


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