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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

A White HDR Christmas‏

December 25th, 2009 · 1 Comment

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In Boulder we don’t dream about a white Christmas. We experience it.

A couple of days ago we got another five inches of snow. The temperature has stayed below freezing ever since then — it never went above 23 degrees today — so we still have a solid blanket of snow. Just what I needed to experience a snowshoe adventure near home on Christmas afternoon.

All I had to do was to grab my snowshoes from the SUV in my garage. After strapping them on, I walked a few snow-covered feet to a huge expanse of undeveloped land right next to the apartment complex where I live and made a three and one-half mile loop.

In the past few days I have been enjoying walks to neighborhood coffee shops one or two or three miles from my apartment. On my walks I have been listening to meditation tapes and in the shops I have been checking my email on my iPod Touch while warming up with a cup of coffee. But destination walks to coffee shops weren’t in the cards today, since they were all closed for the holiday.

At home I have only decaf, but I got my minimal dose of caffeine at a Christmas party for lunch today. That freed me up for the snowshoe expedition that took the rest of the afternoon.

The sun never came out all day. But sometimes a dull day can produce moody images, so I made sure to take my camera with me. I especially wanted to see if a new photographic technology called “high dynamic range” or HDR would made any difference under these difficult conditions.
You can judge for yourself. Here is the HDR version of an image of the apartment building that I live in that I took from the undeveloped land next door:

My Building is in the Center, behind the Garages

My Building is in the Center, behind the Garages

Same View without HDR

Same View without HDR

Click on the pictures above to enlarge

I bought HDRsoft’s “Photomatix Pro” today and put it through some of its paces. In fact, I haven’t even studied any tutorial or manual yet, so I’m sure the improvement could be even greater.

Photomatix Pro is the leading HDR software. HDR usually involves shooting three images at different bracketed exposures. This gives us an underexposed version with lots of detail in the highlights that would otherwise be washed out, an overexposed image that keeps the detail in the shadows, and a properly exposed image. This properly exposed image is what you see directly above. Otherwise, I applied exactly the same edits to both the HDR and non-HDR version. HDR software combines the underexposed, overexposed, and normally exposed images to produce a single image that has an amazing amount of detail throughout the scene’s entire tonal range. It works with either a tripod or hand-held camera, and I took these images today with my gloved hands.

This is all I could do with today’s weather. But HDRsoft has a dramatic comparison on its website. It starts with these three images of Venice’s grand canal:

Under Exposed

Under Exposed

What You Would Choose Before HDR

What You Would Choose Before HDR


Over Exposed
Over Exposed
Click on the pictures above to enlarge

Then, when Photomatix puts them together, this glorious image results:

Venice's Grand Canal is Indeed Grand

Venice's Grand Canal is Indeed Grand

Click on the picture above to enlarge

Even if Venice doesn’t have snow at Christmas, I’m ready to go!

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