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.

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.

The Deck Weeks 31 and 32

I have to play catch-up this week, since I missed out on uploading my Deck photo for last week, so this week is a double upload and blog.  I had already decided what photograph I would have most likely used for the Deck, but I did not get a chance until this week to process the remaining images from my vacation.

The Deck photo for Week 31 is a parting shot from St Martin, over on the French side, on the beach front near Marigot, we were waiting for the boat to arrive for our final adventure, a chance to see the corals and fishes under the sea through the transparent underside of a “glass-bottomed” boat.  My underwater shots came out terrible, but I loved this scene from the shore:

In the last week, I took photographs on three occasions, one was at a funeral, the other two were on afternoon walks with Nikhil, but for some reason I was not getting the “feel” for the scenes or subjects.  My final photograph of today turned out to be one that I was pleasantly surprised with, I took another shot at the New Thriving Chinese Restaurant.  The image is a pseudo-HDR, since I also wanted to try out a new software that Nikhil had recently introduced me to, it is still in the Beta (testing) stage, but I am rather impressed by it.  It introduces a new type of HDR called HDR ReLight as well as doing the regular tone mapping type HDR, but it also processes RAW files, which I shoot primarily.  This was the portion that I wanted to try, and I was rather pleased with the result, the software is Oloneo PhotoEngine, give it a try if you like HDRs or you shoot in RAW.

Here’s the photo for the Deck Week 32, I hope you like it.