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I took advantage of Trey Ratcliff’s invitation to join him for a photo walk while he was in London last Friday.
Trey is the leading name in HDR photography and has taken the process from the oversaturated, overprocessed method that people all too often misused to make an average shot look better, to getting HDR photography into the Smithsonian. Yes, Trey Ratcliff had the first HDR photo ever to hang in the Smithsonian. A significant result for Trey, but also for HDR photography and for everyone who appreciates it.
I’ve messed around with HDR photography, and went through a phase about a year ago when I made it a specific goal to take a couple of HDR shots every time I took my camera out with me. I got Photomatix Pro and I read through Trey’s HDR tutorial as well as a lot of other people’s notes, comments and guides. The thing that got me excited about what could be achieved was learning that the development of the HDR photo is a process that includes Photoshop as much as it includes the specialised HDR software, Photomatix Pro. Until I fully realised this, I was never happy enough to show anyone the HDR results I was producing.
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My shot of Trey shows him standing on the wall on the South Bank of the Thames and literally “preaching to the converted” with his tips and advice for getting the scene in front of us into a decent HDR shot. I was trying to do two things at once. There were about 75 other people following Trey around on his free London Photo Walk, and we all had tripods. I was trying to listen to the tips and advice he was giving, but I was desperately trying to fight for a little bit of tripod space to get a shot of Trey on his podium. I couldn’t splay the legs of the tripod fully, there were that many people around, but, I got my shots. Even as I was setting up the camera, the advice Trey was giving right there and then was used to get the shot. “Shooting into the sun like this I would go from -3 to +3″. That’s exactly what I dialled in for these three shots.
The next issue about getting the final result is that Trey is quite an animated guy. He is calm and tranquil (he describes himself as an old school gentleman) but clearly passionate about photography, and most importantly to me, photographers. He had time for every one of us during the 3 1/2 hours he wandered around London with us. But getting and HDR photo of an animated speaker like Trey requires the extra development time to work with the changes in position or ghosting that occurs over the three separate images. This was where I was able to use the Photoshop processing I had practised last year to improve the results that Photomatix had created for me. And I’m glad I took the extra time (most of my Saturday morning) as Trey chose the shot to put on the front page of his blog, http://www.stuckincustoms.com.
Were you there? Have you been on a photowalk with Trey elsewhere? Are you following Trey’s blog and HDR procesing yourself? Please, took a moment to leave me a quick comment, or, take 10 minutes and leave me a long one. Give me some links to other photo walks you’ve been on, or to some of your HDR images. I’d love to hear from you.