From my last post, you know that I’ve been processing a lot of my Utah photos in HDR. One of the reasons why it was taking so long is because not only the file sizes and computer horsepower I need, but because I wasn’t firing off my brackets quick enough. Why does this matter? Well, things often MOVE when you take a sequence of pictures. And movement is the bain of HDR processing and can turn a great photo into a disaster.
This is yet another situation where I’ve had to learn the hard way (and might I add more costly way). I’ve known for a while that I am not using the full capabilities of my camera when I fire off an HDR bracket, because frankly it takes me too long. I’ve just kept doing what I’m doing because, well…I haven’t taken the necessary time to find the proper way to fire off fast bracket sequences on Nikon DSLR’s. And well, I’m rather strong-headed at times and this hasn’t been on my list to learn!
The bottom line is I’ve got a few beautiful shots from Utah that would make awesome HDR’s, but I’ve had an issue getting the clouds to line up correctly. Yes, clouds move when you are trying to fire off 3 to 5 shots. How fast do they move? Of course that depends, but almost ANY movement is enough to cause some problems. By the way, this same principal applies if you are trying to photograph the night sky. Stars move too. However, there is a general rule that 15 to 20 seconds exposure is usually enough to get them to not blur – Of course unless you’re going for that specific effect.
Anyway, I got frustrated trying to get things working with Nik HDR Efex Pro, which is the current software I have. No matter what I tried, the clouds always looked like crap and they were ghosted (sometimes severely). So, I downloaded Photomatix PRO, from HDRsoft, to see what it could do. Miraculously, to my surprise, their software did a much better job aligning these evil moving clouds. I think this is so because in Photomatix, you are able to selectively apply ghost reduction prior to actually processing the HDR. Whatever is going on, it really works. For all I know Nik has the same capability, but I can’t figure it out and now I’m mad at HDR Efex Pro. I’m afraid I need to buy Photomatix and get accustomed to using a new software program for HDR processing. And thus, my refusal to learn how to fire off fast brackets has lead me to look at new HDR software, and thus spending more money!
Here is an HDR I just worked on using Photomatix. This is a picture from The Joint Trail in the Needles Section of Canyonlands National Park. The clouds definitely define this photo…