2012 Ryder Cup @ Medinah Country Club
Creating an HDR without a tripod
I haven’t created too many HDR images in the recent months as I’ve been focused on shooting a lot of different subjects and styles. However, here’s an image created from a series of 5 RAW images taken (hand held) during the Ryder Cup. One of the many good things about the Nikon D4 is its speed. Below is my handheld HDR shooting tip in order to get a steady HDR image when a tripod is not available.
Handheld HDR Shooting Tip
To get this shot, I setup my bracketing for 0, -1, -2, +1, +2 and then set my shooting mode to Continuous High. I simply hold the shutter down and the camera automatically snaps the 5 images and then automatically stops shooting. With a capture speed of 11 fps and a relatively stead hand you can get some pretty decent consistency for HDR. A tripod would be ideal, but when you don’t have one you can improvise using this technique. You will still need to maintain a steady hand, but it can be accomplished much easier than trying to push the shutter button multiple times.
Penn State at the Ryder Cup
As an additional bit of information, this image (and more to follow) was captured during my volunteer time during the 2012 Ryder Cup. As Director of the Golf Course Turfgrass Management Program at Penn State, I had the opportunity to take 19 students in the turfgrass management program to Chicago to volunteer with the grounds staff.
Evolution of Interests…how I got interested in Composite Photography
Over the past year, the experimentation into my various photography interests has ranged from sexy models to engagement photos to babies. When I first started, I wasn’t sure what direction this was going to go and a year later and I’m still in about the same situation. My interests have slowly evolved into more time and thoughts on the processing and editing as evident the number of HDR shots that I process. However, after coming across some composite photography from people like Joel Grimes and discovering all of the awesome tutorials and training sessions from great photographers on CreativeLIVE I have become more interested into the combination of shooting AND processing.
To help get this going, I finally got around to building a home studio and plan on shooting more in the coming months. Some of the interests that I have are similar to this composite photography image below. This image was a combination of 2 images shot at different time hence the name composite photography. The model (Lauren) was shot in the studio with a white seamless background. The four lighting setup consisted of 2 64″ PLM Umbrellas (Paul C. Buff) setup as lights behind and aimed at the Lauren from each side. A 22″ white beauty dish was position right/front and above the model and a octobox was on the floor front/left of the model.
Editing This Composite
The image was edited using a variety of techniques, but essentially Lauren was picked out of the studio shot and set on top of a shot from the University of Florida’s field…a shot I took earlier this year. The processing was a combination of NIK Software, Photoshop and Lightroom work. This was really my first attempt at this technique. Check out REALLY awesome work by Joel Grimes to get a better idea of the composite technique.
A Controversial Build
Trump International Golf Links Scotland is Donald Trump’s latest golf project. Located just outside of Aberdeen, Scotland (~2.5 hours north of St. Andrews), this is probably one of the most controversial builds in a long time. The process started back in ~2006 where the town denied Trump’s plans to build a new golf course in the small town on the eastern coast of Scotland. After a long and drawn out process, Trump did manage to get his way and built what I would say is one of the best new designs in modern golf. The architect for the project was famous Links course designer Martin Hawtree. Here’s what he had to say about the project:
“I was made aware of Mr. Trump’s ambitions to produce a world-class, 18-Hole links course, following the great tradition of Scottish links golf, capable of one day hosting a major golf championship. My inspection of the site left me in no doubt of its exceptional qualities of environment as well as potential for golf of a very high order and I very quickly came to share his vision and seize a rare opportunity to create a new links course of quite extraordinary power, beauty, challenge and interest.” Dr. Martin Hawtree
My visit occurred a day after the grand opening on July 12th. Although I didn’t have time to play golf, I was given a quick driving tour of the course and this is where I captured the following images. All images were processed using a variety of techniques and software including Lightroom, Photomatix, Photoshop, NIK Software, and Imagenomic.
Trump International Golf Links Scotland
Becoming a serious photographer
So you think you are going to get serious about photography. You bought the latest camera and invested in some serious glass. You read all of the books and tutorials by the professionals. You bought that state of the art travel bag to protect your gear. You even bought a new pair of hiking shoes to get you off the beaten path. The one thing you thought you could do without is a tripod. Right? Wrong.
Shooting without a tripod
I don’t recommend it. It’s that simple. A tripod is an essential tool for HDR photography if you’re going to get the most crisp image. I do have to admit that lot of my images are shot without a tripod and just handheld.
For conditions that generally produce the best HDR images, however, we usually have lower light and longer shutter speeds. In these situations, it is ESSENTIAL to use the tripod. In fact, if the shutter speeds are that slow (more than a second and even up to 30 seconds or more) simply pushing the shutter release can cause enough shake to ruin an image. This is one of the reasons that I love shooting Nikon. Most of the advanced Nikons have built-in intervalometers which allows you to setup a bracketed image to shoot automatically without even touching the camera.
In shots like ‘Bright Sun Through Trees” where we are shooting the bright sun through trees you end up with a relatively fast shutter speed. This allowed me to rapid fire 5 shots off in succession. Photomatix PRO then aligns the images.
I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of this image are all the sun spots and glare created by pointed the lens almost directly into the sun. Most people will not like this aspect, but who gives a shit. It’s my photography!
Bright Sun Through Trees
My photography direction
I’ve been shooting for many years. I’ve gotten more serious with my photography in the last 2 years and have stepped it up more in the last 6 months. I’ve tackled various subjects like landscapes in HDR and even models. While in Jackson where I captured the grand tetons in HDR, there was a lot of interest from others about learning more about photography. This is likely due to the fact that the cameras are getting better and less expensive. It semes that the negative connotation of carrying around a large camera is generally gone as well.
One of the things that I have like while trying to better my shooting and post-processing is the online tutorials that are given by people like Scott Kelby, Trey Ratcliff, and others. This site was never supposed to be about posting images. It was setup to talk about the process and learning of creating meaningful images. In the next 6 months, I hope to develop my own basic tutorials or at least go through some before and afters so you can see how these images were processed. A big part of this will be to get my D800E (backordered on B&H Photo). This will allow me to shoot some behind the scenes footage during my travels.
Roaming for more images…
Another early morning drive to watch sunrise at various locations around Jackson Lake Lodge near Jackson, Wyoming. ‘Grand Tetons in HDR’ was shot from the top of Signal Mountain. The view looks directly across Jackson Lake towards the Grand Tetons.
If you’re not a motivated individual, then shooting decent photography is not necessarily going to come easy for you. Capturing an image requires some basic understanding of photography and a camera. The greatest challenge in my opinion is not only capturing a unique subject, but capturing it at the right time. This image was captured by shooting 5 RAW bracketed images (handheld since I forgot my tripod) and processed in Photomatix PRO, Lightroom and Photoshop. The Timing of this shot was a little late and it would have been better had we arrived about 1 hour earlier. Check out this Sunrise at Oxbow Bend that I captured the day prior.
Grand Tetons in HDR
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