2006-04-06 0955 Photography: The Church at Old Whittington

The Church at Old Whittington

The Church at Old Whittington

We took a walk around Old Whittington yesterday. It’s an old village just on the outskirts (lovely word, outskirts) of Chesterfield. That’s where the Revolution House is. Light wasn’t great for taking shots of that particular building, so we headed to this church at the top of the hil.

There was an Angel in the graveyard. She became my model for a while; there’ll be pics of her up later.

Anyhow, I took all of the shots from the day as RAW format images. That’s the highest straight-from-the-sensor quality you can get from a camera. Think of it as a digital negative. The brains in the camera does nothing to the image other than store it, so you’re free to control the image anyhow you want when it gets back to your ‘puter with no in-camera loss of quality. They’re also huge compared to jpegs. My camera stores just 75 on a 512Mb CF card. Ouch.

Shooting RAW means it’s also possible to create a 32-bit High Dynamic Range (HDR) image from just a single shot. These give a much, much higher range of tones than your average 8-bit jpeg. If you’re used to seeing bleached out skies or no detail in shadows, HDR is for you.

The shot above is HDR. Pretty, isn’t it.

Here’s how it’s done:

I suggest closing every other program you’re running when creating HDR images. You’re going to be throwing one shedload of pixels around!

  1. Convert your RAW image to make three TIFs (jpegs are ok, but TIFs are better for this) – one with the “exposure” set to 0, one at -2 stops and another at +2 stops. I use RawShooter, but Photoshop’s RAW handling works just as well. It’s possible to create 25-megapixel images using Photoshops’ RAW. These have to be seen to be believed!
  2. Fire up Photomatix Pro and press CTRL-G to generate HDR. Select the three TIFs you’ve just made, and sit back. Photomatix has a great batch mode that will automatically create HDRs from a folder full of 3-image sets. Set it going while you watch TV.
  3. Choose Tone-mapping from the same menu and save the resulting image as a JPEG.
  4. Load the resulting file into Photoshop. Apply auto-levels and a slight S-curve.

The jpeg can be manipulated, tweaked and adjusted in any way needed. HDR monochrome shots look very good, almost medium format in style and quality.

There you have it. HDR from a single shot. Nice.

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