After I processed this shot I realized that I couldn’t quite utilize it for any posted themes so I’ll use it as one of my own and I’ll call it Mistake. For the mistake I made might be beneficial to others struggling with basic HDR principles and processing.
I really loved the look of the interior of this 1800’s grist mill in central NJ. The textures, lighting and contents were perfect for an HDR application. The key to nailing this shot was proper composition of the contents and the proper management of the extreme lighting inside this building. Through previous experience I knew that the standard 3 shot exposure would come nowhere near encompassing the range of dynamic light of the scene. I settled on 6 and even that wasn’t nearly enough.
My basic work-flow for shooting this scene, like most others, went like this:
1. Establish proper positioning of my camera and tripod. This is not the best composition but I was restricted by space and limited maneuverability.
2. Double check settings on the camera. Aperture priority, manual focus, white balance, and proper bracket spacing (in this case, 1 stop difference).
3. I predetermined that more than 3 brackets would be needed but since my camera only takes 3 brackets I preset it to 0, +1 and +2. Snapped away using continuous shooting.
4. Moved my AEB to -1, -2, and -3 and snapped off the last 3.
5. That’s where I made my mistake….. I didn’t check my histogram thoroughly and missed the fact that even at a shutter of .7 sec (which isn’t very fast) I blew out the highlights in the 2 windows in the shot.
6. Wasn’t till I went to process the shot that I noticed the highlights in the histogram were gone.
7. Now in some cases you can create a virtual copy of the fastest shutter and change the exposure and it will work but after experimenting I would probably need 4-5 more exposures to retain the details in the windows. That wasn’t happening here.
8. I processed the shot anyway and the result was exceptable for the interior but not for the windows. Lesson Learned! Check your histogram!
I hope this brief tutorial helps all those who are struggling with the technique and understand that even though I’ve been shooting brackets for 3-4 years I haven’t mastered the learning curve yet. Please email me if you have any further questions, I’d be glad to help!