HDR Shot

Why HDR?

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I recently completed some interior and exterior photography for one of my clients.  I found myself in a situation where taking the time to setup my speedlights wasn’t really an option.  So what was I to do?

I always shoot RAW as it gives me the most flexibility with my shots for both exposure and white balance, but it was around noon time and the sun was really bright.  Any image where a window was in view would definitely be washed out.  I’ve tried HDR photography before, but never really found a use for it in my normal shots.  Now I found a reason.  If you take a look at the example picture, you will see that the Non-HDR photo is exposed correctly in the shade but the background is overexposed.  Enter HDR.

What is HDR ?

HDR is High Dynamic Range.  Camera sensors (although getting much better) are limited in the range of tonal values they can pick up in a single shot.  So naturally your lights will be light and the darks will be dark.  With high dynamic range you will begin to notice less contrast and lights won’t be quite as light and darks won’t be quite as dark.  It’s certainly not the best explanation, but it’s fundamentally what is going on.

So in practice, for my situation, HDR is perfect for those times when it’s really bright and you want everything to have roughly the same tonal value (no bright whites and no dark blacks).

How do you do it?

There are multiple answers here, but for brevity I’ll explain how I did it.  I bracketed my shots.  What this means is that I took one exposure at the correct exposure per my camera’s meter, one exposure 1 full stop higher and one exposure 1 full stop lower.  Same aperture and ISO.  Different shutter speeds. Those last two are key as otherwise you’ll end up with some strange results (although, it’s worth trying as it might create some cool effects).

You are not done.  Now you get your pictures into your computer.  I love using Lightroom so I load them there.  Now you need some software to combine the 3 images you shot.  I tried the following Photoshop CC, HDR Efex Pro and HDRtist.  After some playing around I actually found the free HDRtist to be the easiest to use and yielded the quickest and best results.  Sure, I could probably play around a bit more, but for realistic results I am sold.  You take 3 jpg files, drop them into the program and you’re all set.

Some HDR tips/tricks

Put your camera on a tripod.  This saves you time as the images are already aligned for later.  Most software can do the alignment for you, but you’ll get better results.

HDR creates many different types of results.  Keep playing around until you find one that works for you.  I needed realism in my shots so I didn’t add too much and HDRtist did a great job.

A lot of cameras have built in HDR modes today.  If it isn’t take multiple exposures, then it’s not going to give you the best results possible.

You can do some fake bracketing in Lightroom.  Take a single image, edit and save, then edit the exposure to +1 stop and -1 stop, save each.  Now you have 3 exposures to create a HDR.

Leap Motion Device

Leap Motion Initial Review

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I recently received my brand new Leap Motion Controller in the mail.  I had a gift certificate from Best Buy so I figured why not give it a try.

I read about this project months ago where they were demonstrating a device that would bring ‘Minority Report-like’ controls to life.  Consider me interested.  I followed this device somewhat loosely as I wasn’t sold on motion controls, but with implementations like the Wii and Xbox Kinect, things have definitely been moving in the right direction.

Out of the box you have this tiny little device that’s about the size of a package of Watermelon Bubble Yum.  You plug it into an available USB port, download the software and you’re all set.

You are taken through a series of demos that show how the device tracks your hands and familiarizes you with the space you can work within.  It shows your hand tracking in 3D space.  Not a functional piece of software, but it gets you pretty excited to use this thing.  It’s amazingly accurate at tracking your movements.

Leap Motion Tracking My Hand

Leap Motion Tracking My Hand

Once you get past the Orientation you enter the Airspace store where, like the Apple App Store, are able to purchase additional software that can make use of the Leap Motion device. It’s a nice store, laid out well and easy to find new software. The selection is fairly limited for now, but in the past few weeks I’ve seen the selection almost double so there are obviously people developing for this.

What’s my take?

Now that it’s 2013 we’re starting to see some really great uses of touch controls on tablet and computing devices.  Remember when the iPhone first came out?  The touch felt more like a gimmick than an benefit and people complained that it would never be as fast as using their traditional keys on their Blackberry devices.  Now you never hear anyone complain about the touch screen and we’re seeing more and more UX/UI changes that really utilize the technology.  Swiping to access menus just makes sense.  Multiple fingers to access different functionality on the fly is efficient.

Why am I talking about touch screens when this thing requires you to touch nothing?  Growing pains.  Like every new innovate technology it takes years to be able to really truly make good use of it. Look at the Playstation.  It typically takes developers 2-3 years to able to make really stunning games that can use the full capability of the system.  It’s proven that that cycle is shorter now, but the analogy holds true.

Every day, more and more apps are added to the Airspace store by developers.  I give it a couple of months and we’ll start to see some original content that really takes advantage of this device.  It’s too early to say it’s not worth it; after all, I kind of said the same thing about the iPhone.

2013 Inkubator Presentations

2013 Inkubator Graduating Class

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Attended the graduation/final pitch session for the 2013 Inkubator class today. Over the past couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some Tuesday nights with this group to learn what they’re creating and provide some advice where I could. They did a great job with their presentations today and looking forward to seeing what they continue to do in the future. Also nice work to Rodney and Zac.

Startups included: Greenwich Meenwich, Leap App/My Drafter?, A.C.T. Right, Pet Monster, Touritz and Cotrace.

Brennan Electric Website

Brennan Electric Gets a New Home on the Web

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I’ve been working with Brennan Electric, LLC  to develop a new website over the past couple of months.  The issue they ran into was that their WordPress installation of their previous site was hacked.  This effectively left them with no presence on the web and they had no one supporting them.  Once I got into the system I discovered that malicious files were installed and ultimately we had to scrap the whole thing.

I chose the GoodWork theme for their use.  I generally will do a screen shot of the theme and enter client relevant images and content using Photoshop before I make the purchase.  The client loved it and after a couple of short weeks the site was done.