More Canon 40D HDR Images

Just a couple more HDR images from last weekend’s visit to the Monument Hill Historical Site near La Grange, TX. Can you tell which was processed in Photomatix and Lightroom and was processed only in Lightroom? (No fair checking the EXIF data)

Stone Mill

Stone Mill Landscape
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, 17-40mm f/4 L at 23mm, f/11 at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Stone Mill

Stone Mill Portrait
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, 17-40mm f/4 L at 21mm, f/22 at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Trick question. Both images were post-capture processed using Photomatix Pro and Lightroom.

Another Quick HDR Capture

Here’s a close up image from the Monument Hill Historical Site near La Grange, TX. Like my previous image, I processed this by merging three raw (.dng) files and tone-mapping the result in Photomatix Pro 3.1 (beta). The detail brought out by the merge and tone-mapping is outstanding and as you can tell the amount of noise created is minimal.

Statue on Monument Hill

The Statue on Monument Hill
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, 17-40mm f/4 L at 22mm, f/11, 1/125th, 1/350th and 1/1000th of a second at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. Post processed using Photomatix Pro 3.1 (beta) and Lightroom 2′s Develop module. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Photomatix Pro 3.1 Beta – Lightroom 2 Plug-In

I’m just beginning my exploration of HDR (high dynamic range) processing and how it fits in my current Lightroom 2 workflow. Like most photographers, I find the idea of expanding the dynamic range displayed in certain images to be very compelling. After all, who wouldn’t like their images to show more detail in the shadows without blowing out the highlights?

I’ve spent the past few weeks reading literally hundreds of blog posts about different HDR shooting and processing techniques and reviewing the software available from various vendors. At the end of all this research I still wasn’t sure how HDR processing would fit into my Lightroom workflow until I saw a note on HDRSoft’s web site about a beta version of Photomatix Pro 3.1 and their new Lightroom 2 plug-in. So I took the plunge, bought a license and installed everything in just a matter of minutes.

Here’s my first test using an image with a moderate dynamic range (mostly dark shadow areas and fairly bright highlights). The image on the left was processed entirely in Lightroom while the image on the right was merged from three “bracketed” raw (.dng) exposures, tone-mapped in Photomatx Pro 3.1 (beta) and then cleaned up in Lightroom.

Monument Hill

Monument Hill
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, 17-40mm f/4 L at 19mm, f/8, 1/125th, 1/350th and 1/1000th of a second at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. Post processed using Photomatix Pro and Lightroom 2′s Develop module. Click on the image above on the right for a larger version.

I’m very impressed with the results using the default settings in Photomatix Pro 3.1 beta. The detail in the shadow areas under the trees looks very natural and the noise level is acceptable. My only issue is with some of the halo artifacts that show up where the sky meets the tree tops. Other than that, it’s a fairly decent exposure.

Click on the image on the right to see a more detailed version.

Butterflies and Wildflowers

Two more images captured last weekend while looking for prairie chickens to photograph in East Texas. Considering how well this series of images turned out, it’s probably better that I didn’t find any birds to photograph.

Butterflies and Wildflowers

Butterflies and Wildflowers
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 70-200mm f/4 L at 200mm, f/4.0, 1/180th sec at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Fast Mover

Fast Mover
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 70-200mm f/4 L at 200mm, f/4.0, 1/180th sec at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Photography is for the Birds

Or in this case the butterflies, since there were no birds with range of my lens last Sunday afternoon. I had hoped to spot some birds at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge last weekend but after hiking for over an hour in the heat and humidity I gave up and was about to pack it in when I spotted some wildflowers.

Butterfly and Wildflowers

Butterfly and Wildflowers
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 70-200mm f/4 L at 200mm, f/4.0, 1/180th sec at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. Click on the image above for a larger version.

A thought to end this post with. Never go home empty handed and frustrated. Take a moment to look all around you before putting your camera away. Better yet, take the advice of veteran shooter Joe McNally from his recent book The Moment It Clicks, “Don’t pack up your camera until you’ve left the location”. You never know what might find around the next bend in the trail.

Lightroom’s Print Templates

One of the most useful features in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 is the ability to easily create custom print templates and collections like the one shown here.

Lightroom's Print Templates

It’s also very easy to save the output to a JPEG file and later upload to a print service such as Mpix.

The best place to learn more about using Lightroom’s Print module is in Scott Kelby’s new book The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book for Digital Photographers or at Matt Kloskowski’s Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips blog. These two guys know Lightroom in and out!

BTW, I got this template from Matt’s blog and modified it using techniques outlined in Scott’s book. It took all of 30 seconds to complete and even less time to upload the output to Mpix for a quick 8×10 print!

Suburban Photography

I’ve always believed that beautiful images can come from scenes that we walk by every day but never really look at. Whenever I leave home to go shooting, there’s something different about how I “see” the world around me. Looking through my camera’s viewfinder changes my perspective somehow and though I’m not exactly sure what causes this, I’m fairly certain that I’m not alone.

Take these three images from my “Sugar Land” collection for example. Sugar Land is a relatively small suburb located about 25 miles southwest of Houston. It’s a diverse community made up of ordinary folks from all over the world who are living, working and raising their families here in southeast Texas. It’s also an extraordinary community of people that have come together in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike to help each other rebuild their homes and their lives. Of all the places I’ve lived in my half century, this is the one I’m most proud to call home.

Town Center

Town Center
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4 L with a circular polarizer filter at 17mm, f/8, 1/100th sec at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Stephen F. Austin Statue


Stephen F. Austin Statue

Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4 L with a circular polarizer filter at 17mm, f/10, 1/200th sec at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. Click on the image above for a larger version.

City Walk Drive

City Walk Drive
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4 L with a circular polarizer filter at 23mm, f/8, 1/125th sec at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Another Dramatic Afternoon Sky

The circular polarizer is definitely the landscape photographer’s best friend. It plays two very important roles. First, it increases contrast between the blue sky and white clouds. Second, it helps saturate the colors in your image. Put these two attributes together with the late afternoon sun and you’ve got a beautiful, warm image to show off.

Sugar Mill Silos

Another Dramatic Afternoon Sky
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a tripod mounted Canon 40D , 17-40mm f/4.0 L USM at 29mm, f/20, 1/50th sec at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film.

One thing to note. A good circular polarizer filter is fairly expensive ($75 – $125) but the cheap ones can ruin the quality of your images. I prefer a B&W or Heliopan slim circular polarizer for my EF 17-40mm f/4 L lens since both of these are of excellent design, quality and workmanship. You can find both of these brands at your better camera stores or online at B&H Photo or Adorama. Like all photographic gear, buy the best circular polarizer that you can afford and only buy it once!