In the tradition of the early explorers I have been penning my field notes and thoughts. It helps me feel more like an intrepid adventurer after reading too much National Geographic.

Natural HDR images

One of the drawbacks of using bracketed exposures is the tendency for people to over-process to a point where their pictures will melt eyeballs. When I started out I was happy to crank the sliders as far as they'd go thinking more colour was more better. Nowadays I prefer an image that is balanced in terms of contrast and colour.

Luckily I always hang on to my original raw images. As my tastes change over time (and as they will continue to change) I'm able to revisit my previous photos and process them in new ways. I strongly believe that an artist's style is very dynamic and always changing. Keeping track of your original images allows for experimentation and reflection.

A couple years ago I relied on HDR Software (Photomatix mainly) to do ninety percent of my post-processing. I was impressed that my pictures glowed with the brightness of fifty suns or that I could make a normal summer's day look like the apocalypse. In a lot of cases I would judge a picture simply by how bright it was instead of looking at the content.

Recently I've been using Photoshop more. I'll drop each exposure into a layer and use masks to conceal and reveal shadows and highlights. Once I'm happy with the way the layers work together I'll continue processing. I like this approach since it sustains the realism of a scene while allowing for some artistic interpretation.

One of my pictures is lots of pictures

The benefits of using bracketing and multiple exposures

Without fail the first question I get asked when someone views my work is how do you do that? I use a series of bracketed exposures blended together to create a high dynamic range (HDR) composite image which utilizes gravitons to achieve the proper luminosity. If you're not familiar with the process here is another explanation:

First off film and digital sensors aren't able to capture the range of light we see with our eyes. When you look at a raw image the shadows are often completely black or the highlights are blown out and completely white. This happens to every professional photographer regardless of how expensive their camera is. Advancements in software have made it easier to circumvent this limitation using multiple exposures (bracketing).

Bracketing involves taking the exact same picture at different shutter speeds to capture the full dynamic range of light. Shorter exposures will have shadows that are too dark while longer exposures will have blown out highlights. Digital processing techniques are used to blend all the images together to create a final picture with balanced shadows and highlights that wouldn't be achieveable with a single exposure.

Using Photoshop I blend bracketed images together to create a picture that has balanced shadows and highlights. It's like having three bowls of oatmeal; one is too cold, one is bland, and one is too hot. You then mix them in Oatmealshop to create one that's just right!