A few nights ago I had just finished up running two weeks of photo workshops in Florida and I was craving an old-fashioned American hamburger. I found this place called the Moonlight Diner near Fort Lauderdale and figured they ought to have some big ol’ greasy burgers. I’m happy to say, their double-patty cheese and bacon burger hit the spot. The waitresses were all running around with “Got Shakes?” t-shirts and spoke in the unique diner language of “honey” “sweets” and “what kin I git fur ya?”
After the burger and fries, I decided I had to immortalize my experience with an HDR image. Since I had my Nikon D700 and 24-70mm f2.8 with me, I bracketed a sequence of 7 exposures. This shot was about 45 minutes after sunset, so there was just a little bit of blue left in the sky. My goal was to include the real crescent moon in the sky, but it was hidden by the evening cloud cover. Oh well, I’ll have to come back some day and try it all over again!
I just downloaded a free copy of HDRtist from http://www.ohanaware.com/hdrtist/ and have been having a great time playing with this new HDR program. Right now, HDRtist is only available for the Mac platform (sorry PC folks).
The program is extremely easy to use and only requires you to tell it which photographs to use for creating the HDR image. Then, you move the Strength slider until you like the final effect. Once you are happy with the result, HDRtist will save the image as a JPG so you can continue working on it in your favorite image editing program (i.e. Nikon Capture NX 2, Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.)
Here are a couple examples of HDRtist in action.
You can also use the program with a single image for a “fake” HDR photo as shown below. In other words, take a single image into HDRtist and let the program automatically work with it to create a new tone map.
There are a few downsides to this software. First, you don’t get much control over the final image. Basically, you are stuck with the single Strength slider adjustment. Second, the software seems to only work reliably with JPG images. A few times I was able to get it to work with a single RAW file, but whenever I tried three or more RAW images, the program immediately crashed. Third, the software doesn’t automatically compensate for camera movement like Photomatix Pro does. So, if you are trying to create HDR images without a tripod, HDRtist isn’t going to be the right program for you.
However, considering the fact that the software is free, I’m relatively impressed with the results.
I went out to Pt. Defiance Park on Wednesday with the kids to go on a morning hike. We had a great time trekking along the beach and wandering through all the trails. We parked at Owen Beach and went Northwest along the rocky beach and up to the Dalco Passage Viewpoint.
Along the way, we climbed up a big tree and watched the Vashon Island ferry slowly motor back and forth between the Tacoma and Vashon docks. As we hiked, we snacked on salmon berries and huckleberries. In fact, we ate so many huckleberries that our tummies hurt!
Towards the end of the hike, my kids found this fantastic tree (above image) and began climbing up all the exposed roots, just like it was a big jungle gym. They saw an opportunity for exercise. I saw an opportunity for HDR photography!
To create this image, I used my Nikon D90 set to auto bracketing. I shot three images at 2.0 stops apart. Since I didn’t have my tripod with me, I handheld all three exposures and stood as still as possible so there wasn’t much movement in between pictures.
For the final HDR merge, I used Photomatix Pro. Here are the three shots that went into making the final image.