In-camera HDR landscapes from WDW (imgs)

Started Sep 27, 2012 | Discussions thread
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zackiedawg
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In-camera HDR landscapes from WDW (imgs)
Sep 27, 2012

Last week I was on vacation with a friend up in Disney World, and though I brought both my DSLR and my NEX, I ended up shooting the entire 5 days with only the NEX5N and alternating between the 3 eMount lenses I have. It was too hot, and since I was with a friend I didn't want to bog us down with big camera kits and tripods, so the NEX just worked out better as the light kit for moving around.

As is often the case there, the sun can be brutally bright and the contrast incredibly harsh, so it's a great time and place to take advantage of in-camera HDR...especially since it takes no more thought or planning than any other shot - line it up, set exposure, and fire handheld. I generally set the HDR level myself - the more mild landscapes that just needed a little shadow boost got HDR +2, while some of the more extreme direct-sun shots I cranked up to HDR +5.

I also worked on my metering with the 3-frame HDR, so I could avoid the 'flat' look that can happen when you don't properly meter the first frame - I definitely find it much better to expose for the highlights, letting the shadows go dark on the first exposure - I let a few highlights clip slightly, but generally keep the exposure much more on the highlights. That way, the HDR second and third frames do a very nice job of pulling up the middles and shadows, but retain a good, contrasty look that doesn't flatten out from overboosted shadows that lose their blacks.

These are all unprocessed, just to show what you can get from working the exposure and manually setting the HDR - from 'normal' looking exposures to more extreme tone-mapped style can all be obtained out of the camera...some may prefer the more extreme look, others the more natural - I experimented a little with the extreme but admit to being a bit more of a natural HDR look person myself.

Anyway, here are some Disney landscape examples in HDR - all of these taken with the 18-55mm kit lens:

This Everest landscape shot in Animal Kingdom was extremely bright sky with nearly silhouetted land...HDR 2 let me underexpose the whole thing a tad, then bring back the details of the land and trees while still keeping the cloudy sky textures and details:

Here, the entire river was pretty much in shadow, with the background sky very bright - similar metering situation as the Everest shots above...so same general technique. I believe I was at HDR +3 here:

I left the HDR low at +2 here, as I didn't really want to bring the shadows all the way up, but just slightly lift them so some detail could be discerned where the shadows from the trees fell into the river - it kept the contrasty sunset look that I saw with my eye, but without silhouetting the tree shadow areas too much:

For this shot of the back entrance to the French Quarter resort, I was facing almost into the sun (just off to the right) and the sun was nearly set behind the building, so the entire back courtyward was full shadow/silhouette. This required HDR cranked up to +5 to recover the deep shadows and still control the extreme contrast of the sky and sun in the background:

Here's a direct into-the-sunset shot over the lake at Marketplace...I wanted the deep orange sunset colors, but at the same time the foreground was nothing but silhouette when I metered the sky orange. So adding in HDR+3 let me bring some of the shadows back to life, and show the ship, buildings, and boats in the foreground while maintaining the sunset rich colors:

That still has the darker, dusk feel. But I also wanted to experiment a bit with more HDR, so I decided to see what happened when I cranked up to +5 or +6 (I can't remember if this was 5 or 6, but it was one of them)...now exposing for the sunset sky with cranked HDR gives more of that 'tone mapped' look, where the foreground is much more vividly exposed and in detail...but keeping the exposure mostly on the sky kept the contrast in the shadows rather than flattening it out:

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Sony Alpha DSLR-A580 Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony a6000 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake +24 more
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