Accidentally interesting

Last night I was working on a deadline for the PhotographyBB March Magazine issue (check for that to come out shortly – another couple weeks), and found myself trolling through my archives of images searching for examples to help illustrate my point.  I came across a shoot I did solo a while back where I was down in South Carolina.  I was on a dock trying to catch the fading sun to the west, and catching your stereotypical sunsets in SC isn’t easy because there’s too much LAND in the way…not enough water!

This was actually where I first learned the value of checking your entire surroundings because sometimes the best shot may be behind you.  I turned around and caught this image:

Plain Boathouse

Nice enough, but not really something I wanted to include in a portfolio of sorts to include in the now well-known PhotographyBB Magazine!  Then I noticed something…apparently I had tried multiple exposure settings while on a tripod…I was bracketing!  I had the same f-stop, same ISO, but the shutter speed was changing.  Back then I was shooting with my venerable XT (now sold), and the whole idea of bracketing and even HDR was just not even close to being on my radar.  Yet here I am now years later, trolling through archives with an opportunity to go back in time.

So, I pulled the 4 or 5 images together, cobbled them over to Photomatix and ran some tone mapping (didn’t even look at the settings, just was testing a whim to see if it would produce anything).  Well, let’s just say it was…interesting.  It clearly showed my sensor was absolutely filthy (sky splotches everywhere), and I clearly hadn’t learned the fine tuning of checking the edges or even cutting off important lines (like ship masts) from the composition.  Nevertheless, the result was…accidentally interesting.  I’ll leave it to you to judge:

SC Boathouse

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10 comments for “Accidentally interesting

  1. March 19, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Wow Jason, I popped by here this morning and I’m really digging this!

    Is it okay if I like both images? The scene is extremely interesting to me. With and without HDR you had a great setup going on. With all the debate on HDR the one thing everyone forgets is pretty simple. If it isn’t an interesting subject or composition nothing will save the image. Looking at the original I love the lighting on the left side of the building, and the lighting coming from the interior right.

    Very cool location, cool shots! There’s something to be said for looking through your archives!
    .-= Rich C´s last blog ..The evolution of an image =-.

  2. March 19, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Can someone explain everyone’s infatuation with HDR? I like the first image way better – the second one feels too science fiction and fantasy.

    Overdone HDR is one fad that I can’t wait to go away.
    .-= Greg Taylor´s last blog ..Flogging Molly : St. Patrick’s Day / Tempe, AZ =-.

  3. Jen
    March 19, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I have to agree with Greg Taylor on this. I can’t understand why everyone loves HDR so much. In this case, as in almost every case I’ve seen, I think it took a very nice image and ruined it. I too look forward to this fad blowing over.

  4. JLee
    March 19, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    I like the first image better. Though, making it pop a little more would help too. HDR is cool, but it definitely is getting over exposed (no pun intended). First image is a winner for me.

  5. March 19, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    I’m leaning towards more HDR images, but I think this one feels over processed to me. Maybe back off the HDR to give a blend of both images and it’s a winner.
    .-= Peter Witham´s last blog ..Patience =-.

  6. March 20, 2010 at 9:04 am

    The “fad” of HDR will not go away. Camera manufacturers are working very hard at creating HDR images straight out of the camera by designing better sensors with a wider EV range. Real estate photographers are using HDR to demolish their competition in the market. Fine art photographers have been using it to create the kind of photos that people love to buy. Its just like when digital cameras came out… all the old school film guys complained all day long about them but look and see what 99% of them are using now….

    The fact of the matter is that for a business to make money they have to produce something that their clients like. The HDR look is very popular right now in many different areas of the photography industry. Trey Ratcliff produces a lot of “over processed” HDR images and he has the most popular travel photography blog on the internet.

    Personally, I don’t like the highly over processed HDR look or the hyper realistic look. I like a perfect balance between the two. Seeing as how I am currently flooded with clients wanting HDR images taken of their house, car, boat, etc. I am really loving the fact that I’ve spent years developing a solid HDR work flow. The more people complain about HDR instead of learning it the more clients come to me since there isn’t many others out there who do it well. So while many people sit around complaining about it, I am at the bank depositing yet another check or online ordering another Canon L series lens.
    .-= Terry Reinert´s last blog ..HDR Apps for iPhone Review =-.

  7. March 20, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Jason: I agree with Peter. This one is way to over processed for my taste. Too much grit and all the color integrity in the image is lost. I would drastically reduce the saturation and boost the micro-smoothing. Then take it back into Photoshop to fix some of the color spill. Just my .02 of course. 🙂
    .-= Terry Reinert´s last blog ..HDR Apps for iPhone Review =-.

    • March 20, 2010 at 11:44 am

      It’s amazing the intensity that people bring to some debates. Canon vs. Nikon, HDR vs natural, film versus digital, Ford vs. Chevy, chocolate vs vanilla…well, maybe not the last one.

      I agree the second one is way over processed, and I am surprised that no one yet asked me if that was intentional or not…the truth is I cranked it way to the extreme to hopefully elicit a response. My tastes for HDR usually trend toward the less “Harry Potter” style and more toward the natural. Here’s the one that I went with for a “real” scene…


  8. March 21, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I’m an outsider to your group but am considering moving to Charleston. Regarding the HDR, I’ve used it myself to improve a difficult to expose scene. The one above needs no improvement and the frills only appeal to one’s individuality. It seems as the main focus in the discussions above are veering away from what I believe to be the most important feature of photography, that is to exhibit one’s intent, one’s feelings, one’s moods, etc. Our goal is usually to create an artistic piece of work that portrays our inner feelings, emotions or to get across a point. Whatever tools we use is secondary to the intended effect. As with all art, the response is entirely dependent on the viewer’s interpretation. I can appreciate the above comments in terms of what various people “like” but that is entirely personal and is independent of value judgements regarding “good” or “bad.” With respect to HDR, the skill involved in using various programs is very tricky business and requires much practice in order to portray the effects one desires.

    On another note. I’d like to ask the viewers to give me some insight into the art groups and photography groups in the Charleston area. If I move to this location I’d want to belong to some groups that meet to discuss venues fro displaying art forms. I’m involved in several other art forms in addition to photography and would like to know what groups are available to relate to. Please respond to the above e-mail address and feel free to view and comment on my website.
    I’ve enjoyed reading your comments.
    Norman Soskel
    PS at the risk of being tarred and featherd, I’m a Nikon person and just noticed that this was a Canon Blog.

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