The Church

I’ve just been getting into HDR photography, it’s something that’s always amazed me, so don’t be surprised if a lot of the pictures i post are HDR… If you’re new to this type of photography, one of my inspirations; Trey Ratcliff gives a great overview of the technique at his website,

Like i said, i’m just getting started with HDR, i’ve often taken HDR pictures that are processed ‘in camera’ on various pocket cameras and on my iPhone, but i’ve never really taken a ‘proper’ one, until now. Personally i find they work best in areas where there is a wide range of highlights, shadows and different colours. With the weather being really poor recently i decided to find a location that was indoors and would suit for some good HDR practice. So over the Christmas break i went to a local church, right across from where i went to junior school. I don’t really know what the protocol is for walking into a church and taking photos so i decided to follow some common sense practices; ask permission, be polite and respectful. It seemed to work pretty well for me, i met a nice elderly lady inside the church and she was more than happy to let me take as many photos as i wanted.

When shooting an HDR you’re typically taking 3,5,7 or sometimes 9 pictures at varying exposures and then merging them together to bring out the full range of colours and light, therefore it’s best to use a tripod to make sure all the pictures are identically composed.  I always have a small travel tripod in my bag, but on this occasion i used my full size Manfrotto.

Both the pictures you see below were taken at an aperture of f/8 and at a focal length of 10mm.  I have a wide angle zoom lens which ranges from 10-24mm, i’ve not had it long but it’s now my ‘standard’ or ‘walk-around’ lens, it really is impressive and gives a picture angle of 109° when used at 10mm, it really comes into its own in tight spots and is great for landscapes.  The maximum aperture of this lens is f/3.5 so it isn’t the ‘fastest’ lens or overly great in low light, but because you’re nearly always going to use a tripod for HDR the maximum aperture really isn’t that important.

The Nikon D7100 that i use has a built in digital horizon which allows me to make sure the pictures are well composed and ‘straight’, however, when shooting somewhere that’s as old as a church, you’ll usually find that your camera is perfectly level and it’s the building that’s a little crooked!

The final images below were created from 5 frames shot at an exposure value of -1.4, -0.7, 0, 0.7 and 1.4 giving a good range. Most consumer DSLR cameras will have an auto bracketing feature where you can chose the number of images and the exposure differential. You could express my image below as a 5 frame HDR shot at +/- 0.7. Once you’ve chosen the number of frames and the exposure differential then it’s a case of composing the shot and letting the camera reel off the images. I tend to set my camera on a 2 second self timer, that way i can make sure it’s perfectly still.

Typically when shooting an HDR you want to keep the ISO as low as possible to keep the noise down in the final image, i shot the image of the chair at an ISO of 400 and the stained glass at 320, in hindsight i should’ve probably gone lower but i think the slight noise adds to the effect of the image, so i’ll let myself off. Once i had the images i then used Photomatix Pro to create the HDR, i then saved the HDR and re-imported it to Lightroom where i made some further adjustments to the shadows, saturation  and the clarity.

Once i created the HDR i then deleted the original 5 images, which i really wish i hadn’t as it now means i can’t recreate the HDR in a different flavour, note to self; don’t do that again! Hope you like the shots, and if you’re looking for a place to shoot on a rainy day, you’re nearest church could be a good bet, just remember; smile!

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