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Monday, October 29, 2012

My First HDR Night Photograph

Dove Playground in HDR

Since my last blog post on a sculpture in a park 3 months ago, I've picked up on HDR photography, primarily for my video project on old school playgrounds which consists of 3 parts. On the side track, you can watch the videos on my website here, or over at my Vimeo channel here. You can also read my other photography blogs on these old playgrounds, too.

The image shown above is my very first attempt on HDR for night photography. If you have already seen my videos, you would notice some HDR images in it which are all made in the day time. There's really no difference in terms of technical aspects i.e. exposing the subjects with multiple shots of five, seven or nine for more dynamic coverage with each image exposed in one or two f-stop interval of timing. Of course the variety of HDR results during the post-process, either in Photoshop, Photomatix or Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro, can be of great difference on subject to subject basis.

For this HDR image of a Dove playground, I made a total of seven exposures. Images are merged in Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro and some tweaking with its Tone Mapping settings. Lastly, some retouching in Photoshop. I wanted to create a "realistic" image that represents the actual night ambience or atmosphere I experienced. Yes, not entirely the same as normal long exposure shot but not too edgy or over-saturated. Most HDR "Surreal" effects that I've seen, look horrible with heavy ghosting halos and over-saturated colors. To each his own. Some people like it, some people don't. To me, it doesn't work for me.

After working on this image and compare with the rest of the images of the same playground, I'm not too sure if I want to do more HDR night photography. The downside is that I spent more time tweaking the Tone Mapping settings to find the desired result than the time I spent on my usual light-painted night photographs. However on the flip side, it's helpful to do it when there are mixed lightings surrounding the subject. Not every night photograph has to be light-painted or in HDR effect. It' depends a lot on what the photographer wants to achieve. For me, it's all about capturing that ethereal night atmosphere for dramatic effect.

On end note,, do check out my new work of this Dove playground on my website.