2010 – Flood Waters at the Park – HDR

As coastal dwellers we are always mindful of the flooding of our properties, growing up it never seemed that much of a problem, but now it seems more frequent.

Six feet Under –  A phrased usually reserved for the dead and buried, is also the correct description of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana.  The city is six feet below sea level, and all that protects us from the might of Neptune’s oceans is the famous Seawall, which was built by the Dutch when they colonized the area, back in the nineteenth century.  It’s a good thing the Dutch know how to build these things!

When rain falls heavily (sometimes it just has to drizzle) and the tides are high, areas within the city, and even along the coast, become flooded to various degrees, most times it may just be an over-topping of the drainage canals and trenches.  One good side effect of this is the lovely reflections of scenic places in the calm, still waters.

I’d shot multiple exposures for an intended HDR image, as these things turn out, I never got around to it until now.  I’ve gone into detail on what an HDR is and even twice detailed how I approach the processing, but since it has been a little while since those posts, I’ll just give a brief description on HDRs here.

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, it is a technique used in imaging and photography to produce in the resulting image a wide (or high) range in the luminance of an image.  Simply put, it attempts to retain as much detail as possible in the lighter (brighter) areas as well as in the darker (shadow) areas.

These two images show (a) the underexposed image that is used to capture the detail in the lighter areas, notice that the rest of the image is very dark, and (b) the overexposed image that is used to capture the detail in the darker areas, notice that the sky and water in this are very bright and show little detail.

When these are combined with the neutral or “normal” exposure image, the dynamic range of the final image is increased.

After combining or layering the images in an HDR software, the process by which the photographer renders the final image is called tone-mapping.  In this process, various sliders are employed to adjust things like brightness, contrast, light, shadows, and, depending on the HDR software being used, a variety of “specialty” sliders.  The resulting image is usually to the photographer’s taste, some with a desire to approach realistic images with a higher dynamic range than a standard exposure, others go for a more surreal result, some can carry this as far as having a very high contrast, high saturated look that is more illustration than photography, but that’s a debate for others.  To the left is a small image processed for effect, very vibrant very “artsy”.  It is also possible to tone-map a single exposure to achieve some of the same HDR effect, although I do not personally call this an HDR, I refer to them as Tone-Mapped Images, another possibility is to use a single exposure to create the various over and under exposures in software, then combine them, this I refer to as a Pseudo-HDR, but these are only my terms and distinctions.

My preference lies in trying to produce an image that resembles the scene that I saw, but could not reproduce in a single exposure, for some scene this will result in a photo that may have people wondering whether or not it is an HDR, and in other cases it will leave no question that it’s not a standard exposure, but definitely and HDR, especially when I try to reproduce the great detail that is there in a cloudy sky (such as my “Doomed” from the Coastal Wanderings exhibition at the National Art Gallery).   The results of this particular HDR processing? I’ll let you decide.

Exposures on the Beach

Most times when I experiment with HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, it is usually a static scene, with very little chance of movement between exposures, in as little of the scene as possible, like my recent Bamboo Grove image, this is to reduce ghosting and blurring in the final image, however, I do sometimes go for some scenes where there is movement, but these don’t always work out.

Last year I tried one and liked the results enough to use it for my Deck Project for the 19th Week, and whilst in Barbados I tried one down at the beach.  At the beach there was more movement that I’d have liked, with “everyone” in the water moving about.  As usual, I don’t try to be too ambitious, so I stuck with my usual three exposures for an HDR, each at about 2ev difference.

Using Nik HDR Efex Pro, I manipulated the ghost reduction feature until I had as little ghosting from the bobbing heads in the water that was possible  🙂  There’s really only one reason I chose this scene to try an HDR, the clouds!  🙂

Click on the image for a better view in the Gallery.

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Big Bamboo

While traipsing around Cinchona Gardens (Jamaica) snapping photographs like a giddy schoolboy, we came a cross what looked to me like a Bamboo Grove, and although there seemed to be many pathways to explore, we were hoping to get to many more places that day, so we stuck to the main areas.  In the Bamboo Grove I decided to take a few exposures to use as bracketed shots later.  Standing under the boughs, it was more like standing in a rainforest, than on a mountain 5000 feet up.  🙂

As I stood there in the gloom created by the thick stands of Bamboo all around me I couldn’t help but remember an old Calypso (much older than myself) called the Big Bamboo.  Although I know that it was covered by many Jamaican singers and bands, my recollection is usually of either the Mighty Sparrow or the Merrymen.  It is a song that was typical of the Calypso songs of its time, with its marked double-entendre, giving the song a light but naughty air.

Ironically, the song could be traced back to a calypsonian who called himself The Duke of Iron  🙂

If you’ve never heard the song, Google it, I doubt you’ll want to be staring at this photo while listening, but here’s the photo anyway  🙂

2012 Deck – Week 30

At the close of the thirtieth week of the year, I was in Barbados, and my sister and her husband had decided to carry us on a whirlwind of a tour of Barbados’ scenic points, I’m surprised I could remember where I took this one.

I think we almost circled the entire island that day, starting from almost the southernmost point of the island and going eastwards around the coastline.

If my memory serves me correctly, this one was taken at North Point, from the name it’s likely the northernmost part of Barbados, and I was very engrossed with the view, but I managed to get some photographs in while admiring it.

This is an HDR from three exposures, I hope you like it.

Alma Mater

Latin: translated literally as “nourishing mother”, a phrase used in ancient Rome to refer to various mother goddesses, in Christianity is has been used for the Virgin Mary, though not so much in modern times.  Its primary current usage is to refer any school, college or university that one has attended and/or graduated from.

For me, my Alma Mater is Saint Stanislaus’ College; I could say my Almae matres are Stella Marris, Saint Stanislaus’ College and the University of Guyana, having attended them as my primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions.

But for me, it will always be “Saints”, there I spent my formative years, my adolescent youth, where I formed life-long friendships, where I had teachers (and a lack of teachers) and memories (good and bad) that refuse to go away.

I had done a blog late last year, on some of the Latin phrases that have stuck with me to this day, if you haven’t read it, it’s not just about my Alma Mater, but about “Monuments

Last year while looking for subjects to photograph for the Deck Project, I took a midday walk with Nikhil towards Brickdam with the very specific intention and aim of taking a few photographs of the building.  During and after photographing it, I was not satisfied, so we continued on down Brickdam to take a few other photographs, one of which I used for that week’s Deck Photo (2011 Deck – Week 13).

Every so often, I go through my older images, and on reaching the photos that I had taken of my Alma Mater, I was moved to view them differently,  One stood out from the rest, but I was still not happy with it as it was,  I decided to try a Psuedo-HDR out of it, I created two alternate exposures in Lightroom, one at -3ev (to retain some detail in the sky) and one at +3ev (although to be honest, I don’t think I really wanted more details in the shadows for this one).  I did the HDR combining and tone-mapping in Nik HDR Efex Pro.  I didn’t really want a coloured image as the final product, so in the HDR processing, I did a conversion to monochrome as well.

Please click on the image for a much better view in the Gallery, unlike most of my black and white images, I placed this one in the Georgetown Gallery.

Parliament Building

Almost two years ago, I was invited to accompany Nikhil into our Parliament Buildings to do some photography, this being the first time I had stepped foot onto these premises, I was very excited.

And I think, like my first time at the Falls at Kato, I may have been too excited, too excited to properly take in what I was seeing and translate it into photographs.

When I first started processing these two years ago I was very excited and began with my HDR image of the grand staircase which I showcased in my blog-post “Into the Halls of Power”.  After that the rest paled somewhat by comparison and I only went back to them recently.

I started off with my “Mail Drop Box” image that I had posted to my Facebook page, then a second HDR, of the Parliament Chamber, which I did a blog about.

After going through them all, I think that I’ve finally accepted what I had as better than I had thought, and I have processed my favourites from the set and uploaded them to a Gallery on my site.

I think I’d like to do a complete photo essay of this building one day, but for now I have a small selection to show; these include a few exterior shots, a few views of the famous Stabroek Market tower as seen from Parliament, a few corridor shots and even one that includes the St. Andrew’s Kirk.

If I had included a small version of each photo, this blog-post would be longer and have more space allocated to photographs then for words, so I’ve done a small graphical “film strip” with a few select images, and encourage you to click on the film strip to visit the Gallery and see the collection over on the site.

A Civilian’s View

When I visited the Guyana Parliament building for some photography, I took a photo of what would probably be the ideal Civilian’s View, that is, from the chairs (benches) available to members of the public.  I tried setting up in the centre (I think I was off by an inch or two)

I did this in HDR, and while I try to avoid too much high saturation images (especially in HDRs) this one showcases the beauty of the room to effect (I think)

I think I should try someday to get in here for an actual session.  Would they allow me to photograph in there during a session, I wonder…

Click on the image to see it better in the Gallery.

Kaieteur

The mighty Kaieteur, the largest single drop waterfall (by volume) in the world.  Let’s not get confused, it’s NOT the tallest single drop waterfall in the world, but when you’re comparing the sheer volume of water flowing over it, it is the largest single drop waterfall in the world, make note of that distinction.  It has a single drop of 226 meters (741 feet), and averages about 663 cubic meters of water per second (23,400 cubic feet per second).  It is awesome!

For you Canadians and Americans, it’s about five times the height of Niagara,

You can read more about the falls and its history on other sites, I’m not about to go regurgitating all that data here 🙂

For years I’ve always avoided flying into Kaieteur because I could always say that my money would be better spent (in terms of distance and longevity) in going to one of the Caribbean Islands, it was cheaper to go to Trinidad (and stay for a week or two) than to go to Kaieteur and spend two hours.

My first visit to Kaieteur was in 2009, and if I could give up my day-job and become a guide for a tour company just so I could see Kaieteur every week, I’d do it, but then again, I like my job  🙂

This photo was resurrected from my files recently, I had taken three exposures for an HDR, and I decided to re-process those files and see what happens.  It won’t be great (especially to enlarge it), it was taken with the Canon PowerShot S5 IS bridge camera with a Raynox 0.66x wide angle adapter attached,  You can probably see some of the lens distortion at the edges.

This is my favourite view of Kaieteur (other than the views from the airplane, of course)  This is known as Johnson’s View, it’s the furthest view from the falls and gives a beautiful view on the vista.

Definitely, click on the image here to see it better in the gallery.

Into the Halls of Power

I was doing some re-arranging of my website-recently (background stuff that no-one would notice) and came across a folder I had created to temporarily put images, before I made them public, I did not use it extensively and actually forgot it was there, there were two images in it, I decided to make at least one of them public, the other one I am still not happy with.

I was fortunate to be one of four people in a group that was allowed into the Parliament Buildings to do some photography last year.  I have actually processed very few of those images, one in particular I took time to use a tripod, and do multiple exposures for a HDR image, this is the one that I am sharing today.

Although I used a tripod, I only used three exposures but I think it came out nicely.

I hope you like it.

As always, please click on the image for a much better view in the Gallery.