natural history museum hdr

Camera - Nikon D200
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Focal Length: 17mm
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera: NIKON D200

We went to the Natural History Museum last week to see the Darwin exhibition (which is very good) and I loved the lighting in there as the light was falling outside. The arches of the main hall were lit beautifully and I got a few nice shots in there but thought an HDR might look nice.

I’ve been following Dave Nightingales tutorials at Chromasia in the last year or so and had a look through his take on HDR after having tried a few myself and never really liking them that much – usually because they’re most ‘effective’ when most dramatic, and it’s very easy to get a dramatic HDR hideously wrong. Dave does a variety of overdone and subtle HDR shots and I prefer the former, but that’s just my taste.

What I did here was take 7 exposures that definitely covered the gamut – detail in the darkest shadows at one end, and in the brightest highlights at the other. Put the RAWs straight through Photomatix and the tone-mapped TIFF I took into Photoshop was pretty flat, as that’s what I wanted to work with.

However I discovered that the most satisfying image I was creating in PS was ending up looking not that far removed from the actual metered image in the middle of the bracket I took on my camera – while the image definitely had the high detail, almost illustrated look of an HDR, I was putting all the shadows back in. At this point I wondered if I could have achieved the same image processing the single metered shot, and so I had a go.

Tomorrow I’ll post the other version, and try to decide which one I like most. At the moment I really like the almost illustrative look of this one, but the colours of tomorrow’s are winning me over!

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