Oct 5, 2009

Still Waters : Rattling Leaves

Still Water-RattlingLeaves, Shady Lake, NM, full range HDR

Intimate Waterscape
©Joe Bridwell
It’s a topsy turvy world
You see; yet you don’t
What’s real; what’s reflected?
Finally, a tree stump and lillys sort out…
Then, windblown tree reflections on a still pond.
Another HDR tone poem…

Intimate Lighting
Walking along the pond’s bank, several HDR shot sets were taken before this vista became best of catch…
The sun’s brassy October glare was before sunset, but they closed at six sharp. A wind was blowing – Kodak’s Balloon Fiesta would see no balloons go up.
While tree leaves rattled overhead, our pond was relatively quiet.
But, it’s the inverted tree reflection which shows this intimacy; the reflected tree trunk is sharp and clear whereas the rattling tree top leaves disappear behind and among the real small trunk's protrusion.

Only after seeing this final image, did I realize just how powerful still water could enhance a rattling leaves effect (vocal) with a seemingly indistinct reflected shimmer (visual). Amidst viewfinder and LCD, images undergo serious visual compression; smooth vs indistinct variation can't be seen... But, in the final image ~ a rather unexpected visual reward.

Full Range HDR
With eight HDR shot sets captured, I developed all.
What’s a shot set?
It’s a range of HDR images captured such that you start with highlights albut 10% blown, then cycle 1EV (2 0.5 EV clicks each time) until the shadows are albut 10% blown. Each raw image is 14 bits, at ISO 200, f/13 (about the upper sweet spot range on a Nikkor 24-120 4.5 lens), and shot about 5 PM.
In this lighting, 12 images spanned our 10-10% blowout shot set range.

Using Lightroom 2.5, Photomatix Pro 3.2.3, and Photoshop CS4, I performed all functions from Full Manual HDR Capture. Shot sets were processed by PP, then returned to Lightroom as Tone Compressed (Default Setting) 16 bit tif images.
Using Lightroom’s Basic, Curves, and Detail Panels in Develop mode, I Tone Mapped images before carefully choosing the Masking portion of Sharpening function to see if, as usual, PP left a noisy sky. After performing Luminance noise reduction of about 50%, I might crop the image in Photoshop to strengthen impact.

Isn’t it always about the best?
When each shot set had its preferred image completely worked up, I gathered the last efforts in Lightroom as a Smart Collection. Using Full Screen Loupe View, it was then quite easy to decide which keeper (four of nine) met the winning criteria
“Which image contains a story within an already delicate story; does that image create a pleasing emotional and visual impact?”

1 comment:

BistiArt said...

That's awesome, Joe! I just took some shots in Valles Caldera to play with HDR's so I've been saving your HDR emails, and hope to learn.