Archive: July 2008   |   View all recent posts

Making an HDR Image
WHAT: Useful Stuff, Tips, Tricks & Tutorials   |   WHEN: July 23, 2008
I've had a few people ask lately about how I make an HDR image, so i thought I'd share my non-rocket science, wizard-behind-the-curtain technique on a couple images from a recent wedding I photographed.

First off, some of you out there may be asking, 'What in the world is an HDR image?'. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range image, which - when you really boil it down - means an image with a whole lotta detail. Typically in digital photography one thing that's become a little more difficult is achieving details in both the highlight and shadow areas of a single image. Digital just doesn't have the same latitude and forgiveness that good ol' fashion film does, so you actually need to be more accurate with your exposures in the camera. Even then, there's just some images you're not going to be able to get all the detail you want because of the range of dark to light areas your trying to capture. That's where HDR comes in.

There's several different ways to create an HDR image, but basically they all involve combining multiple exposures into one image. Some people will bracket an image, meaning they'll shoot the same scene at several different exposures and then combine those images in post-processing. I've done this and it works pretty well if you're subjects don't move and you've got a tripod. However, this method doesn't work so well when shooting people because unfortunately they have a tendency to not be able to hold an exact position for a couple seconds. So, what I do in that case is shoot one image in RAW format and then in Lightroom (or Adobe Bridge or whatever your flavor of choice is for RAW image processing) I create multiple versions of that image with different exposure values, a couple increments over exposed to get those shadow details and a couple increments under exposed to get those highlight details.

Then, because Photoshop - as awesome as it is - does a fairly lousy job of creating HDR images with it's "merge to HDR" feature (even the guys at Adobe will tell you it's less than stellar), I use a crafty third party app called Photomatix Pro to combine all those exposures into one image. What's great about Photomatix Pro ($99) is that it's got a simple clean interface and still allows you lots of control to make tweaks to the resulting image.

Here's a couple samples of HDR images I created using the above process.

6 exposures generated from 1 RAW file.

Resulting HDR image. Notice the details in the shadows and highlight areas.

6 exposures generated from 1 RAW file.

Resulting HDR image. I know it's kinda hard to tell in this smaller image, but in the full resolution image, there's tons of detail in this image.

Hope that helps.


Speaking of weddings...
WHAT: Weddings   |   WHEN: July 22, 2008
I've been going through Trace and Kristie's wedding images, and I will post some of my favorites tomorrow or Thursday. This one made me laugh, though. Seriously... I laughed. I know some people say that, but they didn't really laugh. I did.


An Engaging Story
WHAT: Personal   |   WHEN: July 16, 2008
I cannot tell a lie. I lied. It was the only way to surprise Kylie. Besides, it was just one of those harmless little white ones that ultimately lead to something bigger and better, so I feel no shame.

Yep, earlier in the week Kylie asked if we were doing anything on Friday night or if she should schedule a girls' night. I told her to go ahead and do something with one of her friends because I had photography work to catch up on, and with that the stage was set. Since we weren't doing anything together, she would never expect that would be the night. Now I was just hoping I had contact info for whatever friend she was going to do something with so I could ask them to help me out by canceling at the last minute.

Fast forward to Friday night. Kylie's plans had fallen through, so I casually mentioned we could go grab some quick dinner before I headed home to work on some photography stuff. She said she needed to go to the grocery store so I said no prob, I'd go with her since I needed a few things, too, but first - and this is where the lying comes in - I told her Darlene (my realtor) had called and said the security system guy wanted to meet us at the house I'm closing on at the end of the month to have me sign a couple papers for insurance purposes. "Should only take a couple minutes" I told her.

What she didn't know was that there was no security system guy. Instead, I had talked with Darlene the day before and told her what I wanted to do, and in typical Darlene fashion she went out of her way to help. She called the seller of the house and asked if I could have the key for a few hours on Friday night to propose, and they were gracious enough to agree. I say gracious because technically if anything was too happen to the house while we were there, it's still in their name and under their insurance. Not only did they agree to it, they had the lawn mowed and tidied up so everything would look perfect. Awesome.

I also solicited the help of my friend, Tina, to help add a few finishing touches. I had photographed the ring and added a few messages and needed her help to frame the images and put them up in the new house before we got there. She also picked up some roses & rose pedals and set out some champaign and strawberries to add some ambiance. To top it off, she arranged to have the CD playing when we walked in with some songs I had put together that were meaningful to Kylie and I.

So we get to the house and I told Kylie Darlene was running a few minutes behind but that she asked the sellers earlier in the day to leave the key in a hidden spot because her electronic security code box thingy to access the key wasn't working. (Okay, so I told two white lies to Kylie). I told Kylie Darlene told me where the key was and to go on in when we got there and she'd meet us there in a few. Yeah, um, Darlene wasn't coming.

We walked into the house and a few seconds later we went into the living room where TIna had set everything up. Kylie saw the the photos on the mantle but it didn't really register. Keep in mind we were far enough away that you couldn't really see what the photos were of, but she had a puzzled look on her face because she couldn't understand why the sellers would put up photos after they'd basically already sold the house. Then I started talking to her and told her that I didn't want the house to be my first house, but instead our first house. I said a couple other things and then followed tradition and got down on one knee and presented the ring and asked her if she would do the honor of being my wife. As you can see, the rest is history.

After taking a few more photos, I told her we needed to go get dressed up and head downtown because we had dinner reservations down at Craft at the W hotel.

A view from the W.

Thanks to all who have gone out of their way already to say thank you and wish us well. We're very blessed to have such fantastic people in our lives. We're excited about the road ahead and to see what God has planned for us.

Now, I can't wait to wear those tux pants with the adjustable waist size. Greatest thing ever. Well, maybe after the iPhone.


Change of Scenery
WHAT: Personal   |   WHEN: July 13, 2008
I admit it, I've been a bad blogger this past week. Sorry about that, but I've been a bit busy on the personal to-do list this week. Hopefully you'll understand after this post and the next.

First off, I'm pretty freakin' excited to announce that I finally became a first-time homeowner recently. Yep, the folks at Home Depot down the street are awaiting me (and, of course, my money) with open arms. I can't wait to close on the 29th of this month.

My dad used to do home remodeling and addition work, but somehow that all managed to skip a generation, and I'm ashamed to admit that I'm doing well to figure out which end of the hammer to hold on to. Good thing the only thing the new house needs is a little cosmetic love. I'm ready to have a wall paper removing party and throw up some fresh paint on the walls. Some new hardware bling is in order in a couple of the bathrooms and kitchen, but other than that, she's good to go for now.

And I'd also like to take this opportunity to throw out some serious love to my realtor, Darlene Harrison. I can't say enough good things about her because she's the real deal, and there's nothing she won't do for her clients. I don't know how she does it, though... she seriously seems to be working all hours of the day. I don't know how many late night phone discussions we had as she was making sure I was comfortable in knowing what I was signing and recommending strategies when I finally decided to make an offer on the house. And did I mention she's super-knowledgeable and not afraid to tell you what she thinks? Two things you definitely want in a realtor. There were times we'd pull up to a house and she'd just flat out say "You don't want this house because of this, this and this, and you're going to have a problem with this." I love that, and I totally trust her inputs because she's helped several of my friends in purchasing their homes as well. Oh and she also did a HUGE favor for me which you'll find out about in the next post. Thanks, Darlene. You're the best!

If I was 30 years younger, the slide and play set might stay. Some days I wish I was 30 years younger, but in the absence of that miracle I've asked the seller to remove this little obstacle course.

mmmm.... 80's wall paper.

Breakfast area in the kitchen.

Love the vaulted ceilings in the living room and other rooms in the house.

This is one of my favorite parts of the house. It's a media room that I'm going to turn into my photography office/gallery where I'll meet with clients and present their images to them. Imagine a little paint and some swanky furniture. You see it?

More media room, this time looking into the kitchen and living room.

A little utility room action.

Come on in.

Welcome. I see two canvas gallery wraps going on the wall as you walk in.

Holy wall paper, Batman.

Main hallway going from one end of the house to the other.

Main hallway running between the bedrooms.

The master bedroom. Hopefully the scary head on the wall will find another séance to oversee in someone else's house by the 29th.

Master bathroom. The gold trim and fixtures gotta go!

One of the spare bedrooms. Yeah, uh not so much on the wallpaper borders.

The Jack-and-Jill bathroom between two of the spare bedrooms.

Okay, so after the 29th, the house is open for visitors. Come on down anytime for a free stay. I might even make you breakfast. You like Fruity Pebbles?


I love surprises
WHAT: Personal   |   WHEN: July 11, 2008
Things are changing around here. Stay tuned...


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