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Castell Dinas Brân
2nd PlaceCastell Dinas Brân

Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: HDR VI (Standard Editing)
Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM for Canon
Location: Castell Dinas Brân, Wales
Date: Oct 9, 2016
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 100
Shutter: 1/1000 to 1/15
Galleries: Landscape, High Dynamic Range (HDR)
Date Uploaded: Oct 16, 2016

A handheld HDR sequence, because who wants to lug heavy tripods up tall hills, when you can fire your brackets as a 10fps burst before your hand has time to move?

I haven't done many HDR landscapes before, as it's never really been something I've tried to pursue, so it was nice to get out of my comfort zone. I'm not yet very familiar with the variuos tonemapping algorithms available, so it was a good chance to learn the details of several.

A three-shot burst, each 3 stops apart. I was shooting into the sun, so my biggest concern was getting in as much highlight detail as possible, knowing it would never be enough for the sun itself, while I had plenty of sky-reflected light in the shadows of the scene. So I shifted the bracket sequence down 1 2/3 stops, to arrange it in such a way that the brightest shot would capture the shadows more than adequately, being +1 1/3 stops over. This figure, along with the breadth of the required spread, was obtained by some rapid trial and error on the spot.

Original images:

I kept the aperture constant and had the bracketing vary the shutter speed, which ranged all the way from 1/1000 to 1/15 - the latter being just about the limit of what's handholdable with this ultrawide lens.

The three images were merged with Luminance HDR, aligned and cropped. There was no one tonemap algorithm I was really completely happy with for this shot, so I took the three separate tonemaps I was most pleased with - one using Drago's algorithm, one using Mantiuk '06 and one using the Fattal algorithm - and played around with blending them together uniformly in various ratious, eventually deciding to combine them in a 30:30:40 ratio. Mantiuk gives it the local contrast and punchy warm saturated colours, Drago is also locally contrasty and added a little more subtlety to the sun's halo and the cloud tones, and Fattal had some much-needed global contrast that gives the image overall depth, but blending it on top of the others allowed me to keep shadow detail that would have been lost on the stone arch.

And here are the three tonemappings, blended together in a 30:30:40 ratio:

After that, editing was conventional - a tiny bit of cloning to remove a very small lens flare and a few distracting bits of grass, some dodging and burning, resize and selective sharpen.

The remaining HDR-to-LDR tonemapping algorithms I tried for this shot, which I didn't use in the end:

Place: 2 out of 45
Avg (all users): 6.5000
Avg (commenters): 7.0000
Avg (participants): 6.3750
Avg (non-participants): 6.5714
Views since voting: 1779
Views during voting: 109
Votes: 44
Comments: 4
Favorites: 2 (view)

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10/25/2016 12:08:25 AM
Great job. Congratulations!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/24/2016 05:57:29 PM
This is an awesome composition! The landscape is bathing in golden light. I like it that you didn't overprocess it - a very elegant HDR and a great, calm, peaceful motif deserve the red ribbon! Congrats!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/24/2016 06:07:22 AM
Hello from the critique club

An interesting image that contributes well to the challenge.

Firstly, congratulations Eugene on your high score and placing, well deserved. Thank you also for your detailed narrative which shows the amount of thought and effort that went into making this image I’m pleased it was all well worth while for you. This is certainly the sort of image that benefits from the HDR processing, though I have seen so many poorly processed HDR’s it is always a welcome relief to see a subtle and natural looking example such as you have here. I have a tip I would like to pass on to you for those slower shutter speeds without a tripod, what I use is a piece of string about 4 foot long attached to the bottom of the camera, place your foot on the end on the ground and pull up taught against it, I regularly use this for full 1 second exposures. I'm surprised you didn't get more comments but I hope this helps.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
10/19/2016 12:10:25 AM
Looks like the top of the world. Good Capture.
  Photographer found comment helpful.

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