September 19

7 comments

Welcome to HDR: Sunset, Seldovia, Alaska

By Dan

September 19, 2011

Adobe, Alaska, digital imaging, HDR, landscapes, Nikon, outdoor photography

HDR is good. HDR is bad. Think what you want, HDR is here to stay, just like full body scans at the airport.

While I’ve certainly seen my share of HDR imagery, some of which I really like, (Ken Kaminesky, Scott Frederick) I haven’t really had a chance to experiment in the HDR realm with my own imagery.

Part of this is because I’m such a purist. Ok, not really, but I like to pretend that I am sometimes. Really, it’s because I just haven’t devoted any time to it yet. Like anything else, becoming proficient with HDR takes time, and between photographing, writing, playing outside and flying the little yellow Cessna, I find myself a little short on that stuff.

Anyway, while in Seldovia this weekend, I came across what seemed to be a perfect scene for HDR experimentation. Resting my Nikon D700 w/ 24mm f/2.8 lens on the bridge railing, I shot a series of images at different exposures down the slough and merged them together using the Adobe Photoshop CS5 “Merge to HDR Pro” command. After a few quick slider tweaks, I ended up with this shot above. (The lightest and darkest of the 5-image series are below.)

I like it, but I’m new at this. You can tell because it’s still pretty subtle. My purist side is keeping the reins tight, at least for now. I suppose I could have lightened the houses a little more. Let me know what you think. Should I go more drastic or does this work?

In the end, HDR is just a tool that offers increased creativity and I’m excited to keep experimenting with it and looking for possibilities where it might apply in my own photography.

About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUIJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.

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  • That is one of the best opening paragraphs I’ve ever read (the “just like full body scans at the airport” part…) I laughed so hard! Welcome to the magical world of HDR, and just want to say you’ve done an excellent job of holding to your “purist” ideals while still taking advantage of what HDR has to offer. The finished image could not be “pegged” as an HDR very easily, or likely not at all. You asked about the houses – it might be nice to try a tiny bit lighter on them and also the trees, but this is a very fine image which I think retains the mood of the real scene. Well done! Janine

  • Coastal towns are perfect for HDR! Haven’t been back to Seldovia since I got into HDR but would love to. Your right HDR takes time to develop a technique. From what I have seen and from viewing others work CS5 has some HDR capabilities but adobe hasn’t quite got it yet. There are a couple stand alone programs that do a much better job with less of a learning curve. I use Photomatix which is very affordable and for me gives very good results with very little time needed in tweaking because of my saved presets. Love your work. HDR is not the end all tool but it does allow us to expand the possibilities.

    Personally I would have brought in a little more range to lighten the houses more. But that is a matter of taste. You’ve done a good job here of capturing more dynamic range to improve the shot but without making it look “cooked” or unrealistic.

  • My take on HDR landscape work: You have to have good colors going into it to make it work out. You don’t have those here, although you do have a very nice scene.

    Just my 2/5 of a nickel.

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