Category Archives: HDR

Angular Unconformity Along OR Hwy 207 To Mitchell

Angular Unconformity

I love geology. I went to school to study it. So when I travel, I like to read about the geology of the places I visit and the roads I travel. In hindsight, I wish, now, that I’d have bought and looked through the Roadside Geology of Oregon, by Marli B. Miller *before* rather than after I’d driven to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. At least, then, I would have been able to follow the mile markers and understood what I was seeing.

Anyway, I’d stopped here because I happened to turn my head to look at the scenery right when my car was passing by these awesomly-colored outcroppings. Turns out, my inner geology radar must have been working intuitively. What you see here is called an angular “unconformity.” An angular unconformity is – in easy terms – when you see tilted beds (the green and reddish outcropping of beds) overlain by straight beds (the red-brown lines of columnar basalts you see above. It shows there is a gap in the geologic time record. So, if you are following a series of formations along a geographic distance, you might suddenly see that one formation or sediment layer of that formation is totally missing from the order of deposition, and all you see is this contact line dividing angular tilting beds from straight layers above. Any of this make sense? If not, then just admire the pretty landscape.

This image was captured using my new Sony Alpha a7r IV and 24-105mm lens. I am loving this camera!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, HDR, Landscape, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Travel

Tiny People, Big Scenery

Clouds Over Bryce Amphitheater

I was hiking along the Rim Trail between Sunset Point and Lower Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon National Park when the summer monsoon clouds started to arrive, providing thunder, lightning and subsequent rain. I captured this shot before hotfotting it back along the trail to the lodge cabins, where I took shelter from the storm.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.


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Filed under 5DSR, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canon, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III, Canon Lens, Geology, HDR, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, summer, Travel

Sunrise Saturday

Sunrise Over Inspiration Point

Upper Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

No, I’m not in Bryce Canyon. I’m instead going through a few archived shots and using them to create HDR images.

For those of you who have never been to Bryce Canyon National Park, sunrises at Upper Inspiration Point are amazing. Actually, sunrises anywhere in this park are amazing. There’s Inspiration Point, and there’s *Upper* Inspiration Point, accessed via a very steep, but short hike on a very well-maintained trail a little further up along the Rim Trail from the regular Inspiration Point view area.

I used a single image and then copied it a couple of times, using different exposure settings. I then combined all those images into HDR. The reason for this is because I did not bracket my original shots (which I should probably do more often, for when I want to use HDR), and because I handheld the camera. The fence at Upper Inspiration Point is just a little too tall for me to stand on tiptoe with my tripod, trying to look through the viewfinder. There was a tall guy standing next to me with his tall tripod, and he didn’t have any problems. I did. So, instead, I handheld the camera and used the “burst method” of holding down on the shutter button for several clicks. I knew out of all those shots, at least one of them would be nice and sharp. The caveat with the burst method is that it takes up space on the memory cards, so I always bring lots of extras with me, in varying sizes of 16GB to 128GB.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.


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Filed under 24-70mm f2.8L II, 5DS, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canon, Canon Lens, HDR, Landscape, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, summer, sunrise, Travel

Waiting For Sunrise In HDR

A North Rim Sunrise HDR

Waiting for sunrise on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

In an article I wrote for future publication in the National Parks Traveler, I mention HDR, what it is, and what it produces. I had to create an example, so I used the free download of Photomatix. I’ve used Photomatix before, pretty much with all the computers I’ve ever owned. Of course, I didn’t have it on this laptop I’m currently using, so I bought it and downloaded it in order to not have their watermark show up on the finished product. While I am not a huge fan of HDR, I will admit it can produce some very nice results, if the hand wielding the preset controls is judicious with the edits. Most of the time, though, I see more overdone HDR images than nice, naturalistic HDR images. Practice makes perfect, in everything including working with HDR, so I’ll be working on this aspect of photography a little more, hence today’s example.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.


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Filed under 24-70mm f2.8L II, 5DSR, Arizona, Canon, Canon Lens, Grand Canyon National Park, HDR, National Parks, North Rim, Photography, Seasons, summer, sunrise, Travel

An HDR Perspective of the Mt. Desert, Maine, Starscape

This morning, laying aside all of the other things I should have been doing, I perused  the news feed on my Facebook photography page and noticed an image posted by another photographer of a night shot processed using HDR techniques.

Hmm, I thought to myself, this might be an interesting test of my own star shots I captured while in Maine this past October (2013).

Normally, an HDR image is composed of 3 or more bracketed images (with different exposure settings).  Now, while I did get multiple images of the same comps using different settings, I chose instead to simply create two duplicate images in Photoshop of the original processed image,  change the exposures in those duplicates by +2 and –2, then process all three images together using Photomatix.

Below are the results.  I’ve posted both the HDR-processed images as well as the original processed image, and you can see whether or not there is any difference.

A Sea Of Stars

A Sea of Stars – Original

A Sea Of Stars-HDR

A Sea of Stars – HDR

Pointing The Way To The Milky Way

Pointing the Way to the Milky Way – Original

Pointing The Way To The Milky Way

Pointing the Way to the Milky Way – HDR

The Road To The Night Sky

The Road to the Stars – Original

The Road To The Night Sky

The Road to the Stars – HDR

Headlight Star Shot

Headlight Star Shot – Original

Headlight Star Shot

Headlight Star Shot – HDR

After processing the images through Photomatix, I went back and added some curves adjustments as well as contrast, brightness, and exposure adjustments.  While I think the HDR technique added some light/shadow nuances to the images, I am not  certain I couldn’t  have pulled similar results from just regular processing.

I am still on the fence regarding HDR in general, but I do believe the images above were improved using this technique.


Filed under Equipment, HDR, Maine, Night Photography, Photography, Star Photography, Travel

Photography In The National Parks: How About A Little HDR?

Hello Everybody! Click on the hyperlink to read my latest article in the National Parks Traveler’s “Photography In The National Parks” column. Hope you enjoy it.


Filed under HDR, National Parks, Photography, Travel and Photography

2012: Bring It On!!

I went to the grocery store today and spent more money than I had intended – even though I stuck (for the most part) to my shopping list.  I walked along the alcohol aisle and spotted a bottle of Barefoot Champagne.  I like the Barefoot brand, but have never tried their bubbly, so I bought the bottle, brought it home, and stuck it in the fridge.

Then, as my photographic imagination conjured up a plethora of photo ops, I kept taking the bottle out of the fridge to use as a prop.  All of the photos below are HDR images, created from the use of 3-5 images of the same scene but with different shutter speeds.  I’m posting everything now because I want to, and because I know I will not be up to toast in the New Year.  I am an early riser (4AM during the workweek and 6AM on days off), hence I go to bed early.  I rarely reach the midnight hour unless I am totally focused on photo editing or I am watching something really good on television.  In point of fact, I’ve already opened the champagne (surely it’s New Year’s Eve somewhere on this planet), had a glass (quite tasty), put the rest back in the fridge (I’m a lightweight in my old age), and am going to go to sleep after publishing this post.

Looking back, it’s been a good year for me photographically (workwise, it’s been odd, but photographically, it’s been wonderful).  I’ve traveled to Colorado, London, and all over Ireland this 2011; started my photography website and my Facebook Photography Page (feel free to “Like” me, and thanks!); created photo books on Blurb, and have my very own blog on WordPress.

Here’s to a good 2012 to all of you readers, to WordPress, and to my friends and family!

May 2012 be successful and happy for us all, with more good times than bad times, and when the bad times occur, may they pass out of our lives quickly.

Salud, Slainte, Cheers, Prost, Skaal, Iechye da, Mabuhay, L’Chaim, Kassutta, À votre santé, Bottoms Up!


Filed under HDR, Holidays, Photography

HDR Photography – If My Words Were Chocolate, I’d Be Eating Some of Them

I’ve been saying in all my photo commentaries on other sites how much of a fan I am NOT of HDR photography.  But I think I may have changed my mind….and I may have to eat some of my words.

What’s HDR?  It’s the acronym for High Dynamic Range imagery created through multiple shots of the same image using different exposures and then merged and “tonemapped” using a program like Photomatix into a single image that presents a greater range of lights and darks and colors.  It’s not 3D, but – when done well – the image has a richer tone to it, with much more definition and texture.  Like your HD TV, sort of.

Anyway, I’ve seen very few photographers who can actually pull off a really nice HDR image.  I tried it once, during the start of the HDR rage, with this new program called Photomatix.  I sucked at it, and so did most other photographers who tried their hands at it.  There was only one photographer out there of whom I knew could really create (and still does create) outstanding HDR photos:  James Neeley.  Since then, there have been other photographers like Rick Sammon (who also writes great photography how-too books) who create wonderful HDR photos as well.

So, the other day, for yuks and giggles, I decided to download the trial version of Photomatix.  I did this because I wanted to do some experimenting with my photos beyond what I already knew.  The latest iteration of this program sure has come a long way since I dabbled with one of the first versions some years ago.

You know what?  I liked what I saw!  Well, with most of my images, anyway.  Some images, even as HDR images, don’t look much different from the originals.  Then there are other images I created using Photomatix that totally stink, stank, stunk.  I think HDR is an acquired taste, and I’m still of the opinion that most of my photos look better as just plain old photos, and not HDR photos.  On the other hand, some of my photos are eye-popping as HDR images.  It’s all subjective, but you be the judge.

St. Mary Falls, Glacier National Park, non-HDR

As an HDR image

St. Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island, non-HDR

As an HDR image

Swiftcurrent Lake morning non-HDR

As an HDR image

Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland, as non-HDR

As an HDR image

Lake McDonald non-HDR

as an HDR image

Swiftcurrent sunrise and moonset in Glacier National Park, non-HDR

As an HDR

Swiftcurrent alpenglow during sunrise, as non-HDR

As a HDR image

So, how is this all done, you ask?  Well, I’m still a novice at this myself, but I can get you started in the right direction and then you can have fun playing with settings yourself (like I am doing).  And if you are already pretty familiar with this stuff, then take a look at Stuck In Customs for more in-depth HDR tutorials.

Photomatix is the HDR software.  You can get it as a stand-alone, as a bundle (stand-alone plus plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom) as a plug-in for Photoshop alone (costs less, but doesn’t have some of the bells & whistles that the stand alone has) and for the Mac.  I paid the $99 and got the stand alone version.  According to their website, it’s good for as many computers as you have, as long as you are going to be the only one using the computers on which you have downloaded the program.

Before you dive into HDR, you need to first have multiple photos (with multiple exposures) of a single image.  Through various YouTube tutorials, I learned you can create a stunning HDR with only a single image, duplicated and saved using different exposure settings (rather than taking multiple shots of the same image).  This actually allows the resulting HDR image to be a little sharper, which was another one of my quibbles about HDR photos – they generally are not as sharp as a single image, and I like making enlargements of my photos.

So, go into your photo editor of choice, and open up an image.

Now, make anywhere from 2  copies to 4 copies of this image.  I use Photoshop CS5, so the commands I give here are for that program.  Your photo editor should have something similar in its menu bar.

Go to the menu bar and select Image-Duplicate

Give your duplicated image a name – I named mine for the exposure settings I planned on using:

I made 4 copies of this image.  I then changed the exposure settings by 1.  So one image was underexposed by 1, another image underexposed by 2, another image overexposed by 1, and another image overexposed by 2.  Plus, the original image with its original exposure settings.

For each image copy, go to the menu, chose Image-Adjustments-Exposure

Once you’ve changed all the exposure settings for your images, save each image.

Now, open up Photomatix and select Load Bracketed Photos 

Click OK

Unfortunately, Photomatix would not allow me to “Snagit” the next screenshot, so I’ll try to walk you through this.

Once you click OK, the images load and the program checks to make sure each image has a different exposure setting.  If it thinks exposure settings for more than one of the bracketed photos are the same, it will say something and ask you if you wish to make changes, either manually or allowing Photomatix to make the changes for you.

Once you are satisfied, click OK

The bracketed photos will be merged and you’ll be taken to a screen with the finished product, plus a number of presets from which you may choose, in addition to sliders where you may make your own tweeks.  Also, you will see a very helpful histogram on the screen.  The object of the game is to make sure your histogram doesn’t have spikes at either of the far ends.  And you don’t have to have a perfect bell shape to your histogram, either.

Here’s my worked version, which really isn’t too different from the original.  But…..I’m not done with the photo.  It’s going to take some work to get it to look like I want it to, and that is best done in Photoshop CS5.

So, once I’ve made what selections  I wish in this screen, I click Process

And get the final merged, tonemapped or fused version.  FYI:  tonemapping and fusion represent different processes to get an HDR image.  You can read more about this in HDRsoft’s FAQ’s

So, I save the image, then go into CS5 and open it up there.  I then proceed to work with the settings I wish until I get the resulting image I like.

Here’s another image I worked using Photomatix.

The original Dallas Divide sunrise image:

The original tonemapped version:

The tweeked tonemapped version:

Ok, that was the “quick & dirty” rundown of how to create an HDR image using Photomatix.   And I take back some of what I have said about not liking HDR imagry.  Guess I’ll go melt the dipping chocolate.


Filed under HDR, Photography