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High Dynamic Range Experiments,

Part 4: Uvas Canyon County Park

Continuing from part 1, part 2, and part 3, here are more experiments using Photomatix to generate HDR pictures. These pictures were taken with an Olympus E-510 SLR and a tripod in Uvas Canyon County Park on 1/23/10. The lighting was soft, and the dynamic range was low, so HDR was not necessary for dynamic range compression. The purpose of these experiments is to take advantage of the tone-mapping features of Photomatix to see if I could create dreamy, surreal landscapes, not necessarily realistic ones. The end results have enhanced, saturated colors with a painterly appearance, somewhat like a fantasy illustration. PhotoImpact was used to adjust the size, brightness, contrast, and sharpness.

These were taken with my Olympus E-510 SLR and a tripod. Most of them were taken using the aperture-priority setting at or near f/22, using the +/-1-stop auto-bracketing and 3-shot burst mode. Shutter speeds were as long as several seconds, which caused the water to blur, giving it a soft, gauzy appearance.

Swanson Creek close to the park entrance

Moss-covered rocks along the trail leading to Uvas Creek

Uvas Creek

The confluence of Swanson Creek (left) and Uvas Creek (right)

The confluence of the creeks from farther up Swanson Creek.

This waterfall on Swanson Creek is not on the park map. This is made up of exposures taken at 0.77, 1/2, and 1.6 secs at f/20, ISO 400.

The falls from a different angle.

Swanson Creek below the falls

Swanson Creek and Trail

Water flowing over rocks on Swanson Creek

Moss-covered rocks and cascades on Swanson Creek

Park road bridge over Swanson Creek

Granuja Falls, landscape orientation

Granuja Falls, portrait orientation

Lower Black Rock Falls

Upper Falls

Cascade below Upper Falls

Upper Falls from higher up on the trail. This was made from 3 pictures taken at 1/2 sec, 1 sec, and 2 secs at f/22, ISO 400. The following 2 pictures show the same scene taken with different shutter speeds.

This is a conventional picture, taken at 1/40 sec, f/5, ISO-400. Note how the water is frozen in motion by the relatively fast shutter speed. This is about as slow as you can hand-hold a shot without motion blur, depending on the focal length of the lens and how good the image stabilization in the camera is. This picture was not used to make the previous HDR picture.

This is a conventional picture, taken at 2 secs, f/22, ISO-400. Notice how the water has a more silky appearance. This slow shutter speed requires a tripod. This picture was used in the previous HDR picture.

Basin Falls

Upper Black Rock Falls, landscape orientation. This was late in the day in a shady canyon, so the light was lower. This was made of exposures of 1.3, 2.5, and 5 secs at f/22, ISO 400.

Upper Black Rock Falls, portrait orientation

Aperture-priority is the typical mode for HDR shots since it keeps the depth-of-field constant, which is why I used it. However, with moving water, the shutter speed has a greater effect on the appearance of the water, so I could have used shutter-priority. Using very long shutter speeds means the aperture will be very small, and the depth of field will be very deep, so it should not be an issue. The exposure times I used seemed to be long enough, but if I wanted to, I could have used even longer exposures by setting the ISO sensitivity to a lower value and using a polarizing or neutral density filter to cut the light down. Those are subjects for future experiments.

To see conventional pictures of Uvas Canyon County Park, see Uvas Canyon County Park Healthy Trails Hike, 2/21/09.

Pictures by Ronald Horii. Page created 1/27/10