19. juni 2017

Edinburgh HDR-experience

I recently came back from a trip to Edinburgh and as usual, I took a day-trip around the city, to find good spots for photography.

The problem with trips like vacations or weekend-getaways, is that you will shoot in mostly high-noon light, or early morning to late afternoon.

The light during these hours isn't the best light really, as it is has high contrast and can also be a little boring; either very flat or very high contrast. If the sky is completely without clouds, well, then the shots tend to be pretty dull.

So, this time, I opted to do some HDR shots, taking several handheld exposures, mostly at +2 and -2 from normal exposure, due to the big span from shadows to hightlights, and later blending them in Photoshop, to obtain something different.

It is also possible to use tone-mapping, if you have only one exposure, but you need to prioritize the highlights, as the shadows are the easiest to recover with digital.

I also did this on my trip to Beelitz Heilstätten in Germany in 2011, check it out.

Now, HDR can be made into whatever you like, it's all in the processing and final output.
Personally, I tend to turn them into a more painterly style that is a little softer and I personally try to avoid halo's or super-sharpened details.

I like them a little dreamy and colorful, but also well defined, not always an easy task.
They do work ok to my taste here.

A "close" in Edinburgh old town, where people used to live and work during the middle-ages.
The slit of light seen at the end is normal daylight, which I recovered in the HDR processing stage and warmed up.
Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.

Balmoral Hotel bell tower.
Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.

Stairs leading up to the Royal mile from Cockburn-street.
Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.

Plaque at Canongate Kirk.
Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.

Cemetary Canongate Kirk.
Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.

Overview from Carlton hill, showing the Balmora hotel and the Edinburgh Castle in the backround
Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.


Holyrood palace, shoot trough the fence.
Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.




Overview from Carlton hill, showing the Balmora hotel including more, like the Scott monument, parts of the Edinburgh Princes Street Gardens and the Edinburgh Castle and church-spires.Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.



Edinburgh castle, shot from Edinburgh Princes Street Gardens
Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.



The castle again, this time shot from the other side, Grassmarket area.
To the right is Flodden Wall from the 15th century.
Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.

Last light, old town and castle.
Canon 5D MK III, Canon 24-105L
Handheld +-2 stops, blended with Nik-collection and adjusted in Lightroom.


I tend to end up with something that isn't hard to look at at least, but the taste for these kinds of shots are many and varied.

The shot from Edinburgh Princes Street Gardens is perhaps the most normalized shot of the bunch, and is probably the type of shot that will always work well during sunny and difficult light, it is shot directly against the sun and the HDR-processing was mostly used to open up shadows and retain a blue sky, the composition helps to reduce the boring, cloudless sky as well.

The cemetery-shot is a good example on how to reduce the intense contrast to a level where it's actually starting to become more viable in terms of both tones and composition, the light is hard, but the tonal scale is long and ok to look at.

My main goal is to soften the photo, open the shadows, lower the highlights and make the shot "pop" a little more in terms of color-contrast.

I use the Nik Collection from google, which is now free. In that package, I use HDR-pro to merge and adjust the photo to my liking and in the final stages, I adjust them slightly in Lightroom as well, mostly in terms of temperature and/or  vibrance/saturation.

Google's Nik-collection can be downloaded from here: https://www.google.com/nikcollection/


I also shot a couple of rolls with my Rolleiflex Automat, but those are for a later entry. ^^

Oh and by the way, Edinburgh really is a nice city, not too big to walk around in and offer a lot to a visitor, both in term of views and history and also in terms of the number of brands of Whiskey to be tasted ^^