Oriens_LDR

image without HDR software processing

Oriens_halfHDR

image with HDR processing in sky only

Oriens_HalfHDRGlobal

image blending 50% normal and 50% HDR processing

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image with heavy HDR processing using Photomatix

HDR imagery is expanding today’s photographic aesthetics. Identifying the characteristics of contemporary HDR images will help classicists and pioneers alike. The basic ingredients are desirable for both sensibilities, but in varying combinations and to different degrees.

Pronounced Shadow and Highlight Detail

Preserving significant amounts of shadow and highlight detail even in images containing extreme contrast ranges is something long sought after and continually improving in photography. Prior limitations in the medium have established a conventional appearance for photographs than now needs to be reconsidered, first in light of the way the eye sees at a glance, second in light of the way the eye sees adaptively over time, and third in light of the way we might like to represent a scene expressively. Excessive recovery can alter large-scale contrast ratios unnaturally and in extreme cases may yield localized solarization.

Accentuated Edge Contrast

In an effort to preserve midtone separation after extreme dynamic range compression edge contrast is accentuated. This produces dark lines and bright halos, typically feathered rather than hard edged. As they intensify they begin to drive images away from a classic smooth continuous tone appearance.

Accentuated Texture

Boosting midtone contrast, in addition to contouring and haloing, also brings an exaggeration of texture. This tends to be particularly pronounced in shadows and highlights but it can be found in midtones as well. What was initially low contrast with little separation can become more contrasty with significant texture.

Increased Noise

Separating signal (texture) from noise (grain or noise) can challenge even the most sophisticated software. When texture is increased, very often noise also becomes pronounced.

Smoothed Texture

Aggressive attempts to subdue noise may leave transitions between closely matched tones excessively smooth with a significant reduction in texture. Some applications make real world or captured information look synthetic or rendered.

Saturation Distortions

Brightness changes bring saturation shifts with them. When shadows and highlights are significantly compressed saturation also shifts, sometimes yielding an unnatural appearance, typically but not exclusively oversaturated.

You have many choices before you. Experimentation sensitizes you to possibilities. Ultimately, you’ll make your own informed decisions. As with solving any problem, it’s easier if you break it down into it’s component pieces and then learn what each one does and how they interact with one another. First know what to look for. Second, know what a tool can do. Third, know how to apply a tool. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be well along the way to crafting a unique style that’s all your own. Master musicians choose from a host of possibilities (both tools, techniques, and applications) to craft a distinctive style. Visual artists do the same.

Read more on HDR techniques here.

Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops.

Get to know photographer Adam Fuss better with these 3 videos.

Read my conversation with Adam Fuss here.

View 12 Great Photographs By Adam Fuss here.

Read 10 Great Quotes By Photographer Adam Fuss here.

View more in the Essential Collection Of Documentaries On Photographers.

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final image double processed

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image processed light

dark

image processed dark

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the Photoshop layer stack used to blend dark and light together

HDR Without Bracketing

If you need to make an image of a relatively high contrast scene that challenges but does not exceed the dynamic range of your camera (or film), consider double processing. Make two derivative files from one original, one dark and one light. Layer the two together. And blend the best information from each. This practice can substantially improve the quality of the information in your file. Even small changes can make a big difference. Remember, this technique is for challenging files, not for every file. If you can achieve ideal results with Raw processing alone or one layer only – do. Keep it simple, when you can.

Get The Best Information – Make Two Files From One

If the dynamic range of an image challenges but doesn’t exceed the dynamic range of your camera (or film), you can process a single RAW file or scan a single piece of film twice. Make one light version for ideal shadow information; don’t worry about clipping highlights. Next, make one dark version for ideal highlight information; don’t worry about clipping shadows. It doesn’t matter which version you start with, light or dark, as long as you end up with two separate files, each with ideal information in opposite ends of the tonal scale.

In addition to good information (detail and expanded tonal structure) in shadows and highlights, be sure to maintain good information in midtones. Avoid posterization and dramatically reduced midtone contrast. Be careful when applying aggressive amounts of tonal compression (Shadows or Highlights) during RAW conversions. Because you are processing two files with the intent of layering them together, you may not need to be as aggressive with these tools as you normally would be. How the two tonal structures meet in the middle is almost as important as maintaining detail at the ends of the tonal scale.

This principle applies to subsequent adjustment of the separate files as well. In general, favor full detail slightly low contrast renditions that you can then adjust further (with adjustment layers). Doing this will help you get better blends.

Combine the Best of Both – Blend the Two Files Into One

So how do you get two versions of one Raw file?

In Lightroom, make a virtual copy (Command ‘) and apply different Develop settings to it. To blend these two versions, go to Photo > Edit In > Open As Layers In Photoshop. (Alternately, open each version independently as a Smart Object and then drag the Background layer of one into the other; this will allow you to edit the Raw develop settings of these layers in Photoshop.)

In Photoshop, first apply one development setting and open the file as a smart object (Hold the Option/Alt key to change Open Copy to Open Object.). Second, in the Layer menu go to Smart Objects > New Smart Object Via Copy. Third, in the Layer palette, double click the new smart object and change its develop settings.

Once you have two versions, one dark and one light) as separate layers in Photoshop, you can use layers to blend the best information from both.

It doesn’t matter which layer you place on top. What matters is how you blend the two.

Create A Good Foundation, Perfect The Mix Later

While blending the two images be mindful of the same concerns during Raw processing; avoid posterization and dramatically reduced midtone contrast; aim for full detail with slightly low contrast but good midtone separation and naturalistic blends between the two versions. This will provide an optimum base image that you can enhance further without encountering undesirable artifacts. Often, it’s best to create a slightly low contrast base with the blended layers and then enhance that with a Curves adjustment layer.

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Blend If Sliders

You can use the Blend If sliders found in the Layer Style menu to restrict what values of a layer are visible. Double click on the layer (in the Layer palette, to the right of the layer icon but not on the title) to activate the Layer Style menu. Then use the sliders in This Layer to remove the effect on the Background layer. For smoother transitions, feather the effect by holding the Option key and splitting the sliders apart. Watch for posterization. Avoid it. Use it as a guide to help you determine how to split the sliders. If posterization occurs, you can more precisely blend a specific range of the tonal scale by adding a luminance or contrast mask. If posterization occurs, you can more precisely blend a specific range of the tonal scale by adding a luminance or contrast mask.

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Mask The Top Layer

You can use a layer mask to hide information on one layer to reveal information from other layers below it. Add a layer mask by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All or by clicking on the mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Then use a black soft-edged Brush at any Opacity to hide the information on the top layer. Use the Gradient brush (linear or radial) for highly regular smooth transitions. If you go to far, you can undo what you did using the History palette or you can manually erase select areas of the mask with a white brush, at any opacity.

Stay Flexible

Don’t flatten the layer stack you’ve created. Preserve your ability to make future improvements. Just save your new file as a Photoshop document (.psd).

Limits

There are limits to how far you can go with this technique. You can’t exceed the dynamic range of your camera (or film). During exposure, if a histogram is significantly clipped in both the shadows and the highlights, take this same principle to the next level. Use HDR bracketing during exposure. Expose once for the shadows and once more for the highlights then layer the two exposures together. Using this method you can exceed the dynamic range of your camera (or film).

Read more in my HDR photograph resources.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Quotes_Calling

Enjoy this collection of quotes on personal Callings.

“I believe there’s a calling for all of us. I know that every human being has value and purpose. The real work of our lives is to become aware. And awakened. To answer the call.” ― Oprah Winfrey

“Emptiness is a symptom that you are not living creatively. You either have not a goal that is important enough to you, or you are not using your talents and efforts in striving toward an important goal.”– Maxwell Maltz

“We are not in a position in which we have nothing to work with. We already have capacities, talents, direction, missions, callings.”– Abraham Maslow

“We shall never learn to feel and respect our real calling and destiny, unless we have taught ourselves to consider everything as moonshine, compared with the education of the heart.”– Sir Walter Scott

“I have brought myself by long meditation to the conviction that a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will which will stake even existence upon its fulfillment.”– Benjamin Disraeli

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

“Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do. With such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.” – Virgil

“Somewhere someone is thinking of you. Someone is calling you an angel. This person is using celestial colors to paint your image. Someone is making you into a vision so beautiful that it can only live in the mind. Someone is thinking of the way your breath escapes your lips when you are touched. How your eyes close and your jaw tightens with concentration as you give pleasure a home. These thoughts are saving a life somewhere right now. In some airless apartment on a dark, urine stained, whore lined street, someone is calling out to you silently and you are answering without even being there. So crystalline. So pure. Such life saving power when you smile. You will never know how you have cauterized my wounds. So sad that we will never touch. How it hurts me to know that I will never be able to give you everything I have.” – Henry Rollins

“Most of us would like to end our lives feeling both that we had a good time and that we left the world a little better than we found it.”– Philip Slater

“The role of the teacher remains the highest calling of a free people. To the teacher, America entrusts her most precious resource, her children; and asks that they be prepared… to face the rigors of individual participation in a democratic society.”– Shirley Hufstedler

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”– Harvey S. Firestone

“The practice of medicine is an art, not a trade; a calling, not a business; a calling in which your heart will be exercised equally with your head. Often the best part of your work will have nothing to do with potions and powders, but with the exercise of an influence of the strong upon the weak, of the righteous upon the wicked, of the wise upon the foolish.” – William Osler

“Art is the great democrat, calling forth creative genius from every sector of society, disregarding race or religion or wealth or color.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” ― Émile Zola

“I don’t tell you this story today in order to encourage all of you in the class of ’04 to find careers in the music business, but rather to suggest what the next decade of your lives is likely to be about, and that is, trying to ensure that you don’t wake up at 32 or 35 or 40 tenured to a life that happened to you when you weren’t paying strict attention, either because the money was good, or it made your parents proud, or because you were unlucky enough to discover an aptitude for the very thing that bores you to tears, or for any of the other semi-valid reasons people marshal to justify allowing the true passion of their lives to leak away. If you’re lucky, you may have more than one chance to get things right, but second and third chances, like second and third marriages, can be dicey propositions, and they don’t come with guarantees…. The question then is this: How does a person keep from living the wrong life?” ― Richard Russo

“The crowning fortune of a man is to be born to some pursuit which finds him employment and happiness, whether it be to make baskets, or broadswords, or canals, or statues, or songs.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you.” ― Annie Dillard

“My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can. In both our work and our leisure, I think, we should be so employed. And in our time this means that we must save ourselves from the products that we are asked to buy in order, ultimately, to replace ourselves.” ― Wendell Berry

“If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?” ― Stephen King

“Change makes you find your calling, your legacy, and God’s divine plan for your life. Don’t run from it.” – Iman

“Whatever your calling is as a service, follow it – that’s beautiful.” – Hill Harper

“Every calling is great when greatly pursued.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

“…it sounds like life is calling you to do something BIG and you haven’t picked up the phone.”– Anonymous

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”– Henry David Thoreau

“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”– Henry David Thoreau

“Let us become the change we seek in this world.”– Mohandas Gandhi

Explore The Essential Collection Of Creativity Quotes here.

Discover more quotes in my social networks.

You’ll gain real insight into the mind of photographer Kenro Izu in these three videos.

Read more in our conversation.

Read 9 great quotes by photographer Kenro Izu.

View 12 Great Photographs By Kenro Izu.

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Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Chris Rainier.

Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Chris Rainier.

“I am a storyteller who uses a camera.” – Chris Rainier

“I always knew that I wanted to be involved in seeing and understanding from seeing around the world. Photography is a perfect way to do that.” – Chris Rainier

“We need to take a moment now and then to trade stories about what it really means to be a human being.”

“I am South African by birth, but because of my father’s job, our family traveled a lot. While living in places like Africa and Australia, we visited indigenous peoples. From the beginning, I carried a camera to document the beauty and wonder of these far-flung countries. I also realized many of these cultures were faced with issues I could not ignore. I understood at a very early age, things were not like they were represented in travel magazines.” – Chris Rainier

“Working with Ansel (Adams), what happened there for me was, “Oh, I could use photography as a social tool.” His use of photography for environmental issues was phenomenal.” – Chris Rainier

“We consider biological diversity of these different flora and fauna crucial to our survival, but don’t think about intellectual diversity — in fact, we kind of look at it in a global market level, wouldn’t it be great to have one language? Well, if all we’re doing is communicating about commerce, perfect. But what about diversity that comes up in a language. Each language has its own unique way of looking at things.”

“We are at a crucial crossroads of human history. We are losing traditional cultures with their ancient ways of life and spiritual beliefs at catastrophic rates … With my photography of the First Peoples of our fragile planet, I hope to show spiritual traditions from our past in the present, and become part of the process in some small way of helping prefer life for future generations. I believe photography plays a crucial role in helping sustain and revitalize cultures on the edge.” – Chris Rainier

“With my photographs, I hope to show the past in the present and become part of the process of pressuring life for the future. As our television sets carry us boldly about the world, and as the chainsaws fell the last trees that hide the lost peoples, we lose an essential mystery, and with it, the wisdom which may lie there. If we would be citizens of that world, then we must do all we can to ensure the survival of that world. As only one form of life on Earth, we must keep our humility and finally honor life itself. Once the fragile umbilical cord to our primal past has been severed, we will find ourselves truly alone, without purpose, adrift in a vast space with nowhere to go.” – Chris Rainier

“What would happen if you gave a camera to the Afghan girl in Steve McCurry’s iconic photo? How different would those photographs be? Not to replace the Steve McCurry’s, but rather to create another chair at the table of the dialogue of what it means to be human. It’s not an either/or. It’s not a good or a bad. It just simply is.There are voices out there that have incredible vision, and we aren’t accessing them enough.” – Chris Rainier

“There’s so many cultures that are still now not connected and are getting left behind in the digital divide. More and more, this is a world where you don’t exist unless you’re online, and you don’t have access to information to education to empowerment, to women’s issues, to job opportunities, unless you’re connected.” – Chris Rainier

“I have come to realize that the further I evolve as a photographer, regardless of where I point my camera, I am taking a self-portrait — a reflection of my own story, my own beliefs, my own point of view. Nothing more. Nor do I presume that where I point my camera and take a picture is a reflection of the absolute truth. There is no such thing as an absolute truth. All images merely reflect the emotion of the photographer and the opinion of the reviewer. As it is stated in photography, there always exists two individuals in every image, the artist and the observer, and their sets of beliefs and cultural biases.” – Chris Rainier

“We’re always told to be objective. Well there is no such thing as objective. There is no such thing. We all have an opinion. As visual storytellers we must form opinions therefore things become subjective and the more intense they become they become extraordinarily subjective. I think the powerful images in documentary and photojournalism, if not in other areas of our field, are the ones where people have taken a stance and made a subjective opinion.” – Chris Rainier

“It’s presumptuous of me to document this culture and call it a documentation. It isn’t a documentation, it is an interpretation of their culture.” – Chris Rainier

“I’m also really trying to be careful not to deal with stereotypes. I was most concerned that I didn’t perpetuate the myth about the savage cannibal. In part that’s why I didn’t go in the direction of National Geographic. They have a colonial approach to the exotic. I didn’t want to get into that. I wanted to try to be as honest about a culture as possible, which is never entirely possible, we always have our own cultural bias.” – Chris Rainier

“I couldn’t get a straight answer when I was with the indigenous people. So I came back, read about it, and went back again and again. The wrong thing that happens, in my mind, is that you’re so prepped on western scientific explanations for things that you’ll miss the point completely.” – Chris Rainier

“What I’ve learned along the way is you have to ask the right question to get the right answer. Often as westerners we go in asking western questions and maybe that’s not the question to be asked. You need to be asking the question in a New Guinea sense. In a sense of the relevancy of their culture not the relevancy of what we think it is. There’s a big difference.” – Chris Rainier

“What’s going on in contemporary anthropology, trying to empower indigenous people to tell their own stories and get a more accurate story to tell other cultures.” – Chris Rainier

“The minute an indigenous culture becomes aware of its value to other cultures it shifts its tone and its perspective.” – Chris Rainier

“There are many examples of where they’re being overrun. But there’s power in information and there are enough organizations like Cultural Survival, Conservation International, Shaman Pharmaceutical. Shaman Pharmaceutical is actually going into the forest and documenting what the shamans are using but they are also linking up the shamans so they can talk to each other. So there are shamans in Borneo talking to shamans in the Amazon, ‘Hey what kind of leaves do you use?’ I think technology is being used in a constructive way to help people preserve their cultures.” – Chris Rainier

“They’re going to be able to hold onto their land and cultural beliefs. You take them out of that context and they’ve lost their roots, they have lost their sense of being nourished. That’s exactly what we’ve lost.” – Chris Rainier

“There are may be questions that we should never find the answers to. You know, in a world that quantifies everything. And this is what I wrote about in one of those essays in the New Guinea book. I hiked through this valley for a couple of weeks, and went through this valley of leeches, and got to the edge of this community, and this valley where this community lived, and the warriors met me – they knew that I was coming – and they said, ‘No. We are not going to let you in. We’re not allowed to let you in.’ I was upset. I was frustrated. I had spent all that time and energy and money to get there. And then after a day or so of spending time on the outer perimeter of this valley with the warriors who were very kind to show me around on the fringes, I got it. It’s good to know that there are places that are untouched, unmapped, not understood, and not quantified because then it still allows us to have the concept of the mystery of life. Once science takes over it quantifies everything, then we’re done for.” – Chris Rainier

“How do you put a value on art? How do you put a value on a little kid who comes wandering through here, and has a shift in his perspective, and is profoundly affected, and becomes the next Picasso or the next President of the United States. It’s these things you can’t put quantitative values on. You can’t do that with art, you can’t do that with indigenous cultures. It’s my belief that it is indigenous cultures that still have family values and a sense of connection between them, the land, and the spiritual connection of all things. That is the greatest gift they can give to us. There are some gifts that we can give to them – certainly medicine and technology to preserve their culture, video or email or the internet. What they need to give to us is a sense of what we have already lost. I think they are really our last chance to reconnect. I think people are appreciating these kind of cultures more and more because they see the differences – what we don’t have and what they do.” – Chris Rainier

“I’d like to touch upon that thing that completes the circle. That’s the documentation of some of these emotional social issues in the world and how it’s for me an important necessity, as much as doing sacred places. It is the yin and yang, the extreme corners of human experience from the Garden of Eden, still left on the planet, to the Dante’s Inferno of places like Sarajevo, Rwanda, or Chechnya for here lies the mysteries of man’s inner light as well as his inner darkness. This truly makes this work complete. As a photographer I’m curious to go into these extreme corners and put them on film.” – Chris Rainier

“I’m trying to create that sense of the spiritual reason why these places or these masks exist.” – Chris Rainier

Read my conversation with Chris Rainier.

View 12 Great Photographs By Chris Rainier.

Watch Chris Rainier’s TED talk.

Visit Chris Rainier’s website.

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Exhalation I

Skip Cohen asked me to share one of my images and answer one question “Why?”.

I gave him four answers.

1   It was a turning point in my vision.

2   It’s still as strong today as it was then and it continues to take on new life through new images.

3    It’s taught me so much.

4    I’ve learned so much from viewer’s responses.

Skip recorded our conversation.

You can listen to more here.

Plus, listen to more in Skip Cohen’s audio series “Why?” here.

PHOTOGRAPH_16

“Issue 16 of PHOTOGRAPH magazine highlights the diversity of vision and creative expression. Issue 16 is a stylish send off (It’s the final issue!), featuring the work of Cynthia Haynes, Karen Divine, David duChemin, Takashi Kitajima, and Alain Laboile, and articles from regular columnists Martin Bailey, John Paul Caponigro, David duChemin, Chris Orwig, and Adam Blasberg. We hope this magazine inspires you to see differently as you continue to hone your vision.”

I discuss Using Psychology To Strengthen Your Composition.

Get your copy here.

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“B&H’s OPTIC 2016 Imaging Conference provided numerous opportunities to talk with some of the most respected nature and landscape photographers working today, but the highlights of our two days at OPTIC had to be our chat with Michael Kenna, the event’s keynote presenter, and our conversation with Paul and John Paul Caponigro. It is unnecessary to summarize the work of these three photographers in any quick description but, suffice it to say, each is a master of his craft.

While their work is distinctive and unique, it was wonderful to hear of their common vision, approach—and yes, spirituality—and for this reason, we present their conversations together. With Kenna we spoke of process, why he sticks with medium format film photography and what motivates and inspires his work. With the Caponigros, we touched upon the spirit of art, how to communicate with nature and, with Father’s Day in mind, how to let a child discover his or her own path to artistic expression. Join us for these two inspirational conversations.” – John Harris and Alan Weitz

Michael Kenna (1:30 – 30:05)
Paul and John Paul Caponigro (31:00-57:10)

Listen to it here.

View our lecture at B&H’s OPTIC 2016 Conference here.

Read our conversation here.

View the ebook Two Generations here.

View the Two Generations exhibit catalog here.

My father and I recently presented our photographs together at B&H’s OPTIC 2016 Conference.

Enjoy!

Read our conversation here.

View the ebook Two Generations here.

View the Two Generations exhibit catalog here.


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