ArtSunday: The DaVinci Gallery – a study in bracketing and High Dynamic Range

Lately I’m working not only on my actual camera ability, but also on better understanding the technology of processing images. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours in the DaVinci Machines Exhibit in Denver working on both composition and technical skills (shooting in lower light, for instance) and doing so with an eye toward how I’d be outputting the images later. Interesting results.

I bracketed everything I shot (three exposures: -3, 0 and +3) to enable composite High Dynamic Range processing. Here’s one series that emerged. This is obviously several different versions of the same raw shot. First, the basic image, fine tuned a bit in Photoshop.

Next I began playing in Photomatix. Here I began with one of the “Painterly” presets and worked the image back toward the raw one a little.

Here I used the much cooler (temperature-wise, not hip-wise) Creative preset as a starting point, again dialing it back a touch.

This time started with Creative again, but switched to the Surreal lighting settings and left more of the reds in. Cooler, very contrasty.

Finally, black and white.

I’m obviously having a lot of fun here, but I’m also climbing a damned-near vertical learning curve. In one sense, I’m developing some technical capability with my tools, but more importantly, these sorts of exercises are helping me explore who I want to be as a shooter. As a developing writer I had to find my voice, and that involved a lot of experimentation and even a good bit of imitation – I’d see something I liked, so I’d try and do it myself, along the way internalizing lessons and skills and over time making them my own. Tradition and the individual talent, as it were.

Let me know if you have a favorite here, if there are things that resonate for you, and of course, what you absolutely hate and hope I’ll never do again. I have a suspicion I know which ones people are going to dislike and why, and viewer reax are part of what I need to improve, so feel free to hammer away.

3 replies »

  1. I like the basic image best. The others become cluttered, drawing focus away from whatever the hell that glass doodad is in the right foreground. However, I can see the possibilities inherent in the post-processing techniques demonstrated here.

  2. The processing, by bringing up some data that isn’t evident in the raw shot, certainly is adding information. It’s messing with the signal-to-noise ratio in a significant way. If you’re impressed by “ooh, shiny!” then you’re going to love the third and fourth ones, which I mainly did to illustrate a point. The b/w was done in Photomatix as opposed to my preferred (more serious) method, which is to convert color to b/w in Photoshop.

    If I dialed back the light in the ceiling a little more that second one might not offend you as badly….