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high dynamic range

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Post that sucker!

_MG_0129_HDR-Edit-2.jpg

I'm going to tell you to do something I think you all know in your hearts that you should do - "post the pictures you love". It sounds almost fatuous but it's harder to stick to than you might think. For example, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop with Welshot Imaging last weekend - normally I'm teaching workshops for Welshot so it's nice to attend one for a change and the teacher, Adrian Wilson, was excellent. We were there to learn about HDR photography and we'd made arrangements to visit Liverpool Cathedral for a few hours to shoot some material to process later.

I have a twisted streak that likes to subvert things so I'd been wondering how I could do something using HDR that didn't fit the stereotype of how HDRs usually look. I settled on two ideas and shot for them all day - black and white HDR and shallow depth of field HDR. I'm pretty happy with the results and you can see my complete collection of images from that day on Google+ and 500px but that's not what this article is about. I want to talk about selecting which images to show.

I've been posting the pictures one by one over a few days after spending some time with each and deciding if I really like it enough to post it. I came to the picture you see above of the staircase and I very nearly didn't post it. You see I'd been shooting HDRs inside a beautiful old cathedral all day surrounded by amazing stonework detail, high ceilings and stained glass windows. And this picture I was considering was just a wooden staircase - and a fairly modern one at that. I imagined that people would think the staircase mundane and out of place. So I vacillated for a while and eventually decided to post it. And to my surprise it gathered the most comments of any picture in the collection (on 500px).

The reason I shot that picture and the reason it was in contention for posting was simply that I find it visually pleasing with the lines that guide the eye and strong contrasts and detail. There are lots of diagonals to keep feeling dynamic and the contrast between the wooden stairs and the stonework is pleasing to me. It's one of my favourites from the day. But it's not really what you'd expect to see in a cathedral picture and I very nearly let that be my guide for what to post. So I have a simple call to action for you:

Find a picture you love but didn't post because you thought others might not appreciate it. Now post that sucker!

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Tutorial 5, Chapter 1 - Weir at night

Today's show is the first of a two part tutorial covering the production of this ambitious night-time, long exposure, high dynamic range (HDR) shot of the Weir at Belper. I talk a lot about dynamic range and why you would use the technique. I then explain how multiple images are combined in photoshop to produce the HDR image. This shot is part of a collection of images I produced a few weeks ago on a short break to Belper in Derbyshire. I grew up in Derby and for many of my younger years I visited places like this. I'm making it my current project to build a portfolio of images of the places where I've lived. I believe it adds a third dimension to a photograph if it's part of a set that has a purpose and a story. So please take this Weir image in the context of the greater collection. You can view the whole collection (17 images) on Flickr - link below.

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