Thursday, 1 December 2011


In the past few weeks, I have been researching HDR photography in a bid to improve my skills and techniques (another excuse for why the blog has been neglected). For the benefit of those who know nothing about HDR photography (like I was just a few short weeks ago), HDR stand for high dynamic range. In essence, the technique consists of taking a series of photographs at different exposures and merging them into one in order to overcome the inability of the camera to capture the whole spectrum of dynamic range. The end result is that all the details both in shadow and in light are captured at the right exposure. The effect is quite surreal, some say too surreal, as the photograph then doesn't look realisttic. That is a whole other topic altogether! I think people generally either love it or hate it. Trey Ratcliff has some great examples.

I love the effect because it DOESN'T look real. Some of the photos almost have a comic book feel to them. This sense of fantasy is what I want to give to my Disney photography, in order to capture that magical feel that one experiences at the Parks. I have been somewhat disappointed with my photos taken at both Disneyworld and Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Anaheim. That's wasted opportunity at three Disney Parks!!! I had spent too much time looking at spectacular Disney photography and unfortunately my own work came up short. I was hoping to use HDR photography I had one year to learn about HDR photography. My aim was to have at least one "WOW" photo when we head to Disneyland Paris come December 2012.

And so began the process of self education online. After trawling through seemingly endless websites and forums, I chanced upon a comment made by a poster. All that was written was one sentence "Try Topaz Adjust". I don't know what made me google it but I did and it appeared that I had struck gold! I was sceptical at first. The program was advertised to be easy to use and allowed the user to create HDR effects with only a single jpeg image. Really?!?!? Could it be that simple? No tripod, no taking repeated shots, no learning how to bracket? No fiddling in CS5? I saw that Topaz offered a free 30 day trial whereby the final processed image had no watermark. What did I have to lose? I did have a photobook to complete.  I am prepared to try anything that could make my photos look better!

I downloaded the program and I was sold within 24 hours! It was so much fun and so easy! Dull and lifeless photos became amazing explosions of colour. Suddenly, my Disney photos came alive. Photos that I had dismissed as sub par were magically resuscitated. Then I moved on to other photos from previous trips. I "Adjusted" photo after photo until the early hours of the morning. I soon learnt which photos the program works well on and which ones to not bother with. I think it is important to mention here that the program doesn't take away the need for good photography in the first place. It helps a lot but can not cure everything. To my husbands dismay, I discovered that Topaz had other products which did equally funky things! There went a few more nights of photo editing that extended well past midnight.

Here are some before and afters. All done with a single jpeg image using Topaz Adjust.

1 comment:

  1. Do you think L'Oreal or Shiseido have a Topaz Adjust compact so I can HDR myself in real life every day?