UPDATE: I reprocessed and re-cropped this image and fixed the issue with the clouds “ghosting” in Photomatix Pro. I think this looks much better. I also think it will make a nice gallery print at 16″ x 20″.
Urban settings are a great place to practice HDR capture techniques. I love the variety of textures to capture from steel and glass to bricks and granite. This fountain made a wonderful subject with the waster cascading down in the background and the texture of the arches in the foreground.
I’ve found the two most important aspects of setting up my camera for HDR captures are using aperture priority (Av) mode and manual focus. The idea is to make sure the focus and depth of field don’t change during the series of exposures. Since my eyes are not what they used to be, auto focus was initially used but then turned to “MF” to prevent the camera from refocusing between exposures. This was an eight exposure series with exposure compensation set from -4 EV to +3 EV in 1 EV increments (-4, -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3) to provide the fullest possible histogram. My 50D was tripod mounted and all exposures were taken using a cable release to prevent camera shake as much as possible. Image stabilization was turned off since the camera was tripod mounted.
Post Capture Processing
I processed these eight raw exposures in Photomatix to create an 8-bit TIFF that was then processed in Photoshop Elements using the techniques explained in Jeff Revell’s Grunge Tutorial. I was surprised how much detail this double processing brought out in the bricks, concrete columns and water. The image turned out great with the exception of the clouds. It was fairly windy when I took these exposures and as you can see, Photomatix had some trouble dealing with this in the HDR image.