Recently I attended a luncheon meeting at International Market Square in Downtown Minneapolis. I used the meeting as an opportunity to shoot some test photos with my new Canon TS-E II 24mm f/3.5 lens. This is a tilt/shift lens.
I wanted to demonstrate the capability of the lens, illustrate how useful HDR can be, as well as address questions I have received concerning white balance. The discussions will be detailed in a series of articles I'm developing as well as workshops on HDR. The first workshop, "Intro to HDR" will be held in my studio January 12, 2010. Details of how this image was created will be included in at least two articles, "The Right Equipment," and "Shooting Techniques."
First, addressing white balance. There seems to be some confusion about white balance when shooting RAW. Simply, a RAW image is just that: raw. It is a pure, unadulterated record of what the camera sees. But, a RAW image also captures other elements of the image chosen by the photographer. This information is stored in the file's metadata and can be called upon by the photographer in post processing. White balance is one of these elements.
Be sure to click on any of the images below to enlarge it and see its detail.
The first image, below, was shot with the camera set to Auto White Balance.
The image below was shot using a Custom White Balance. In this case, it was hard to get to an area to shoot a white balance target. I wasn't able to be suspended in the middle of the room. Because the area was filled with a lot of natural light, I defaulted to a version of daylight corresponding to 5500 kelvin. This setting has been recommended by my colleague, Rich Hockett.
Next, I used the tilt/shift lens to recompose and sharpen the image. I used the shift function to eliminate the foreground railing and reveal more of the ceiling. I also used the tilt function to bring more of the brick wall and windows on the right side of the image into sharp focus.
To make this into a High Dynamic Range photograph, I made 2 more exposures, one 2 stops under-exposed and one 2-stops over-exposed. I processed all three images through Photomatix Pro® and made only slight adjustments from the default settings. I used Nik Color Efex 3.0® and Photoshop® to add contrast, added saturation just to the greenery, and sharpened the entire image slightly. I describe this type of HDR image as photo realistic.
This 300% zoom may be helpful in illustrating how the tilt function brought the brick work into sharper focus. The tilt function was used for the image on the right. Although, in this rather small file, it's hard to see the difference in sharpness, you should be able to see the difference in contrast which I've pointed to. Contrast is one of the components in determining sharpness. Click on the image to enlarge it.
To make things interesting, I reprocessed the three images as a type of HDR image I call illustrative. Some of the people in the HDR world call this a "cooked" image or a "cocktail." This is accomplished by running the sliders in Photomatix Pro® from one end to the other. Specifically (for the techies): Strength 100, Color Saturation 100, Luminosity +3, Microcontrast +10.0, Smoothing -8.1, White Point .559, Black Point 0, Gamma .88, Temperature +3.0, Saturation Highlights and Shadows at 0, Micro-Smoothing 9.2, Highlights Smoothness 99. Here is the result:
I wanted to give this image more texture. I also thought the brick wall on the right was too orange. First, I blended the final photorealistic image with the cooked image revealing some of the brown tone of the brick so it wasn't so bright and saturated. Next, I ran the image through OnOne Software's PhotoTools®, a Photoshop® plug-in. I used an effect Exaggerated Edges n' Tone and combined it with an effect called Moulin Rouge (named after the movie) to present this final rendition.
For more information,
4445 W. 77th St. #130
Edina, MN 55435