Here is an image I shot recently from Central Oregon near Sisters. It is a 3-shot HDR processed in Photomatix Pro and Lightroom 5.
I’ve had had limited success in the past with HDR. My failures stemmed from not getting the different exposures correct using bracketing. So this time I decided to try using exposure simulation with Live View.
Many cameras have exposure simulation. In Live View, the exposure is simulated in the LCD screen depending on your camera settings. I have found exposure simulation to be very accurate as long as the LCD is not in direct sunlight.
This image was a great candidate for HDR because of the very high dynamic range. It was early morning just after sunrise so the shadows near my setup were fairly dark and the sky was very bright. A single exposure exposing for the sky would render the shadows black. Exposing for the shadows would result in the sky being completely blown out.
Here’s are the general steps I used:
- Set camera to manual mode.
- Set aperture to f/11 and leave it there (I did not want depth of field to change).
- Set ISO to 100.
- Set White Balance to Sunny (I did not was W/B to change between the shots).
- I used a 45mm tilt-shift lens, so focus is manual. Otherwise I would have set the focus to manual on an auto focus lens.
- Turn on Live View (making sure exposure simulation is activated).
- Adjust the shutter speed until the exposure looks good for the shadows in the foreground.
- Take the shot.
- Adjust the shutter speed until the exposure looks good for the mid-tones in the area near the barn.
- Take the shot.
- Adjust the shutter speed until the exposure looks good for the sky and mountains.
- Take the shot.
I found this method takes all the guess work and time spent when using bracketing. No spot metering. No histogram evaluating. Just shutter speed adjustments and take the shots. In fact I took the three shots and did not take any others. I wanted to test this method without having to take multiple shots with the hopes of getting keepers. I was very pleased with the results.
Here are the 3 RAW images used for this HDR:
Exposure for foreground shadows
Exposure for mid tones near barn
Exposure for sky and mountains
Last year I published a blog post about a technique I call “focus blur”. I couldn’t wait for my next opportunity to shoot fireworks again.
Below are a few examples from a fireworks display on July 4, 2013. Enjoy – again!
The technique is fairly straightforward. Here are some general steps:
- Arrive and set up early. Fireworks generally don’t last long and you don’t want to be setting up just before they start.
- A tripod and remote shutter release is required.
- Be comfortable. Take a chair and set up your tripod in front of you with the view finder close and at about forehead level or higher (your camera may be pointed up depending on how close you are to the action).
- The exposure settings for all the images below are Av=f/5.6, Tv=2.5s, ISO=100.
- I wanted several compositions so I chose a 24-105 f/4 lens to give me various focal length options.
- Turn image stabilization off.
- Turn auto focus off.
- Try and judge where your compositions will be before the fireworks start. Take some practice shots.
- I start at wide focal lengths when the fireworks start. This allows me to zoom in where I want once I know where the fireworks will be exploding.
- Put one hand on the focus ring and set it at the nearest focus point (the most out of focus point).
- Put the other hand on the shutter release.
- Try and judge when the firework will explode (practice is the key here).
- Press the shutter release just before the firework explodes.
- Immediately start turning the focus ring towards infinity. Make sure you get to infinity before the exposure ends otherwise the entire firework will be blurry. The goal is to get the firework to a point (in focus).
- Get ready for the next shot – it will happen FAST. Once the previous shot is complete, turn the focus ring back to the nearest point (out of focus).
- Repeat the process.
You will have to adjust the composition because not every firework will explode in the same place. Take LOTS of shots. There WILL be may throw away images. Also try some tight crops to fill the frame with fireworks. It takes practice. Good luck!