HDR in the Woods

Hi all

As I’d bugger all fuel in the car to go further afield, I decided to nip across the road into the woods and do some HDR work. Naturally, (or should that be un-naturally?) anything that has had the HDR treatment tends to look a little too rich and over-saturated, and whilst I have added a little saturation to some of these shots, they are not too far from the normal. I worked with them in Photomatix Pro using the ‘Tonemapping>Details Enhancer’ settings; using ‘Contrast Adjustments’ made the shots too dark.

The majority of shots were merged from five exposures with around three stops between each exposure.  I haven’t done much HDR work to be honest, so I still have a lot to learn, but I understand the concepts that surround it. For those that don’t, here’s a very basic explanation.

HDR (High Dynamic Range), means precisely that. The resulting images when merged allow more range between the light, darks and shadows within the image; more akin to what our own eyes actually see, and not the camera sensor. Ideally, you would shoot a minimum of three exposures at different stops; basically, how big or small the camera aperture is; bigger for more light, smaller for less and how long the aperture is ‘open for’.
Well, those shots you see of nice, dreamy water surfaces giving the impression of movement? Those are taken by allowing more light on to the sensor, i.e., leaving the shutter open for longer, say for 1 second or more. Conversely, pictures of water frozen in action, say a water droplet splashing on to a surface, are shot with a much faster shutter speed, letting in less light, so in excess of 1/500th of a second.

This ‘dreamy’ effect on the water can still be gained with HDR, as one or two exposures will still be shot at a slower shutter speed (to capture the ‘lights’). These are then all merged, or laid on top of each other in layman terms, to create one, HDR image. This is then ‘tone mapped’ to your liking; they can either be realistic looking or very surreal, like a painting, but this depends on your taste and what you want to achieve.

So without further a do-da, here’s the results or my labours. All shot from between  7.30pm and 9:00pm to catch the setting sun’s colours.

Path into coed Meurig.
On the path into the wood; loved the shadows the sun was casting. Just look at the wonderful colour range.
Shooiting at the sun in the river.
Normally not able to stand here, as I’d be very wet!
Looking over the pool.
Looking the other way over the calm pool. Not overly fond of this shot; a little too muddy. But I do love the colours from the sun on the trees. A HDR giveaway is the tone and contrast on the rocks.
Shadow of tree in pool
A close up of the tree over the pool. I couldn’t quite frame the shot how I wanted though.
Over the blue bells, framing the sun in the tree's 'V'
Over the blue bells, framing the sun in the tree’s ‘V’
I love this shot. As my camera has a fixed lens and isn’t that great at DoF (Depth of Field) I added a Gaussian blur filter in the top left, as the effect wasn’t pronounced enough.
Branch tilt shift
Stranded branch. Added a little bit of a tilt-shift to this one.
The dry waterfalls
This is the section that I shot the panorama of in my last post. It’s really empty. We’ve just had a biblical rainstorm so I’ll wager this is looking better already. I cleaned some of the grass up in the bottom right, as it was in front of the rocks and was distracting and made the pic look messy.
Towards the River Ogwen
Looking the other way towards the main part of the River Ogwen.
Unnatural waterfall.
I really like this shot and I purposefully processed it to look less natural and to bring out the greens and jades in the water.

As I made to leave, the sun was giving this lightning destroyed tree a nice red colour, so I quickly set up the camera and tripod again and got one more in:

Lighting stump
The dead stump. Not one to fall out of the sky and land on though.

So there you have it folks. I hope you enjoyed these and I appreciate any feedback.


Elton 🙂



5 thoughts on “HDR in the Woods

  1. Hi Elton,

    Magnificent! Thanks for the technical explanations too. I think all the photos are superb, but I think you may guess which one is my favourite 🙂
    The one you said: “I really like this shot and I purposefully processed it to look less natural and to bring out the greens and jades in the water.” Well, this one looks very GLB to me (i.e. greenlakeblue). Dreamy and uplifting 🙂

    I also love the Bluebells one with the “light twin tree” and the very last one as to me it kind of evokes a mysterious lost dream forest…

    Ohh, and this new Theme looks fab. Just bare in mind that I can’t see any post photos on the homepage, only the header photo (excellent choice by the way). So you may want to double check on that.

    And this is my feedback for tonight 🙂

    1. Thanks GLB 🙂 It’s a bit late now but the header photo was just a test. I’m changing it to a modified one I’ve used previously. Thanks for giving me the heads up with the theme; it just isn’t always obvious to readers how to bring up previous posts, so I’ll be pointing that out.

      Cheers 🙂

      1. Hi there, sorry for my late reply back. I just had a look.. I love the blueish mountain header photo. I think you wrote a recent post about it (i.e changing theme etc), I’ll go over there then 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s