Archive for the ‘HDR’ Category

Google Nik Collection: HDR Efex Pro 2

April 11, 2016

Google announced recently that Google Nik Collection is available for free. Pundits speculate this almost certainly means there will be no further development of these popular popular photo editing plug-ins for Apple Aperture, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, etc. Who knows? I downloaded and installed the software anyway.

The following semi-photorealistic composite image is the output of a quick-and-dirty test of “HDR Efex Pro 2,” one of eight plug-ins in the collection. I opened a set of three bracketed exposures (+/- two stops of exposure) in Adobe Lightroom CC 2015. Then I used the Nik plug-in to stack and tone map the image; I saved the output and cropped it slightly using Lightroom.

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23 MAR 2016 | Meadowood Recreation Area | Hidden Pond

The result is fairly good for my first foray into using one the plug-ins featured in the Google Nik Collection. There’s a little strangeness in the rendering of some of the clouds that are visible among the trees, near the upper-center of the image. I’m guessing there’s a way to fix that problem using “control points,” where the real magical power of Nik happens. There’s always more to learn, time permitting.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Answer key, The “Bridge to Nowhere”

April 1, 2016

In The “Bridge to Nowhere” — the last post in my photoblog — readers were challenged to guess the location in Huntley Meadows Park where the following photograph was taken.

The "Bridge to Nowhere," located along an informal trail at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The following interactive map shows the exact location of the bridge as well as several associated waypoints. Click on the icon that looks like a stylized picture frame (located in the upper-right corner of the map) in order to “View larger map.” Zoom in on the map; click-and-drag to reposition the map. Click on the colored balloons for more information. The bridge is marked by a red balloon.

The following sign is posted near the bridge. The sign is brown and white although the colors look weird in the light of my camera flash, probably due to reflective paint used to make the sign.

A sign posted near the "Bridge to Nowhere," located along an informal trail at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Believe me when I tell you every word on the sign is true. The trail, such as it is, leads to the northern boundary of the park. In  my opinion, there’s relatively little if anything to see that’s worth the effort required to walk this trail — you know, there’s a reason I nicknamed this bridge the “Bridge to Nowhere!” The following quote from my journal of field notes, dated 09 March 2016, further illustrates the point.

I was determined to thoroughly explore the part of HMP referred to as the “northern wetland” (NW) or “upper wetland.” I checked it out on 23 September 2015, albeit quickly rather than thoroughly. I decided to explore the “informal trail” beyond the “Bridge to Nowhere”/NW. I walked and walked until I had only the sketchiest idea of where I was. Eventually, I came to one of the park boundaries: there were houses along the property line; one house has chickens in the backyard! Anyway, I had no clear idea how to get back to the NW without retracing my steps so I decided to wing it. A long slog later — featuring lots of mud bogs and thorny vines — I made it to the side of the NW I didn’t explore last year. I renamed the location: Instead of Northern Marsh, I now refer to it as the “Northern Mush” because of the sucking mud that seems to be everywhere. I thought the location might be a good habitat for dragonflies and damselflies. Let’s just say I’m over it. Don’t waste your time — not much to see there! Source Credit: Walter Sanford, Photowalking Field Notes.

Associated Waypoints

The following photorealistic 32-bit HDR image of the “Northern Wetland” is a composite of three bracketed exposures, +/- two stops of exposure.

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09 MAR 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Northern Wetland

The last photo shows the view looking upstream (toward the “Northern Wetland”) along an unnamed creek that crosses the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park. For more information about the stream, click on the waypoint marker in the interactive Google Map (shown above). See also Snowy scenes along the Hike-Bike Trail, posted in the aftermath of the “Blizzard of 2016.”

Looking upstream along an unnamed creek that crosses the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

01 FEB 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Unnamed creek

Tech Tips: I used Google Maps to create the custom map that is embedded in this post. The following resources were helpful in figuring out how to customize- and share the map.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Ground truth

March 2, 2016

Scouting odonate habitat using Google Earth is quicker and simpler than a site visit, but when you think a new location has potential you still need to “ground truth” what is shown in the remotely-sensed imagery.

For example, the following Google Earth image suggests it should be relatively easy to reach the banks of two tributaries that flow into Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve.

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Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve | interactive image on Google Earth

In contrast, look at the following photorealistic 32-bit HDR composite image of Dyke Marsh as viewed facing southeast from River Towers Condominiums. The banks of one of the streams are choked with dead vegetation, flattened by a recent flooding rain event. In mid-summer, the same location is likely to be a tough slog due to waist-high vegetation!

A 32-bit HDR composite image created from three photos of Dyke Marsh as viewed from River Towers Condominiums, Fairfax County, Virginia USA, +/- two stops of exposure.

29 FEB 2016 | River Towers Condominiums | Dyke Marsh

Look closely at the preceding composite image. Did you notice the beaver lodge? The George Washington Memorial Parkway appears along the base of the tree line shown in the background. You can see a white vehicle that seems to be driving through the marshland, near the center of the image.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Mulligan Pond

February 27, 2016

The following photorealistic 32-bit HDR image of Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, is a composite of three bracketed exposures, +/- two stops of exposure.

A 32-bit HDR composite image created from three photos of Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA, +/- two stops of exposure.

20 FEB 2016 | Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge | Mulligan Pond

Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge is located along Dogue Creek, downstream from the southeastern boundary of Huntley Meadows Park.

The wetland refuge is open to the public, although signs such as the one shown below are a sobering reminder that the property belongs to the U.S. Army. The danger is real, according to John Pilcicki, Natural Resource Specialist, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir, and visitors should stay on the marked trail.

Signage at Jackson Mile Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

20 FEB 2016 | Jackson Mile Abbott Wetland Refuge | Signage

Tech Tips: I used my Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS150 superzoom camera to shoot three bracketed exposures of the same landscape. The camera was set for manual focus at the hyperfocal distance for an aperture of f/4, based upon the instructions provided in the excellent video tutorial by Graham Houghton, “Panasonic Lumix FZ camera easier manual focus method — super point-and-shoot tip.” I used Adobe Photoshop CC (2015) and Lightroom CC (2015) to create and edit a 32-bit HDR composite image of the three exposures: Photoshop was used to create the HDR image; Lightroom was used to adjust the composite image. The final version was exported from Lightroom as a 16-bit TIFF and imported into Aperture for some finishing touches.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

HDR composite image of Hollin Hall

January 14, 2013

The following semi-photorealistic HDR image of Hollin Hall is a composite of three bracketed exposures, +/- 2 stops of exposure: Photo 2 (0 ev); Photo 3 (-2 ev); Photo 4 (+2 ev).

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Photo 1. HDR composite image.

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Photo 2. 0 ev.

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Photo 3. -2 ev.

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Photo 4. +2 ev.

Tech Tips: I used my Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS150 superzoom camera to shoot three bracketed exposures of the same landscape. The camera was set for manual focus at the hyperfocal distance for an aperture of f/4, based upon the instructions provided in the excellent video tutorial by Graham Houghton, “Panasonic Lumix FZ camera easier manual focus method — super point-and-shoot tip.” I used Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 4 to create and edit a 32-bit HDR composite image of the three exposures: Photoshop was used to create the HDR image; Lightroom 4 was used to adjust the composite image.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

HDR panorama composite image of Hollin Hall

January 12, 2013

The following panorama photo of Hollin Hall is a composite of six overlapping photorealistic HDR images.

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Tech Tips: I used my Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS150 superzoom camera, Adobe Photoshop CS5, and Lightroom 4 to create a panoramic of six overlapping 16-bit HDR images; each HDR is a composite image created from three bracketed exposures, +/- 2 stops of exposure. Photoshop was used to create the HDR images and merge them into a panoramic; the resulting image was adjusted using Lightroom 4.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com


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