Tag Archives: Italy

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

Scenes with very high dynamic range (containing very bright and very dark sections) are difficult to capture in a single shot without either blowing out the highlights or underexposing the shadows. Although common sensors in current DSLRs have 7 to 8 stops of dynamic range, many natural scenes would normally have a much greater dynamic range, too large to be captured accurately, even though they would look perfectly normal to our eyes. This is because each photoreceptor in the retina can adjust its gain independently (or almost independently) of each other, while an ISO setting in the camera applies equally to all pixels in the sensor. HDR imaging is a way to extend the dynamic range of a capture by taking sequential exposures of the same scene with bracketed settings. High-end DSLR cameras can do this automatically after dialing in the desired bracketing sequence and interval. Typically one shot is taken at the “correct” exposure indicated by the metring system, while additional shots are taken above (say +1, +2 or +3 EV) and below (say -1, -2 or -3 EV). The trick is to get all highlights and shadows correctly exposed in at least one of the exposures in the series. The images in the series are then combined to generate an HDR image using specialized software. Later editions of Adobe Photoshop can do this. Dedicated HDR software, such as Photomatix, is however easier to handle and yields very nice results.

The three photographs below -taken during a recent visit to Pompei- were shot at 1/125, 1/500 and 1/2000 sec, respectively, on the EOS 40D with EF-S 10-22mm lens at 15mm, ISO400, f/11.0 (always apperture priority for HDR). The corresponding histograms are shown under each image:


Detail in the shadows is totally lost in the first image, but all highlights are inside the histogram and the sky exposed correctly. The opposite aplies to the far right image: shadows are now resolved but highlights are completely blown out. The middle image is the “normal” exposure, what one would have been left with from this scene had one not decided to take bracketed images.

Below is the HDR image produced by Photomatix from the three photographs:


A well exposed, nice image, with detail in the highlights and the shadows, just like my eyes saw it! Incidentally, the marked diagonals add to enhance the composition here. Very pleased with this one!

Another Raw conversion: Pompei

Here is one classic Pompei shot with Vesuvius in the back. Midday sun, crowds all over the place, too bright sky, poor contrast:

Cropping (in Camera Raw) allows focusing on the center temple and eliminates the worst part of the crowd:

Here is the Raw conversion: mainly tone curve for added contrast, graduated filter to pull back the sky and adjustment brush to bring back top of the building and columns that were too dark after the grad filter:

Here are the histograms before (left) and after (right):

One final clone tool in Photoshop removes the unwanted visitors. Voilá:

Posted in POTN here.

Food Photography II: L’Accanto Gourmet Restaurant, Seiano, Italy

Food photography is a challenging photography genre wiht many books and articles written about it. Lighting, framing angle, arrangement, freshness, speed are some of the most important elements to consider. A recent meeting of our Molpark EU research network took us to Seiano, Italy where we enjoyed a few days of great science amid magnificent views of the bay of Naples and stunningly crafted meals.

Here are some dishes from our stay at the Grand Hotel Angiolieri in Seiano, spectacularly located on the northern coast of the Sorrento peninsula. The L’Accanto Gourmet Restaurant is the “hotel’s temple of flavor”. Recently awarded its first Michelin star, the restautrant serves amazingly creative dishes based on local products and firmly rooted in the Mediterranean tradition.

These are casual photographs, some of the plates are not as “clean” as they should have been for a purely photographic session. But they capture part of the great art at L’Accanto. All were taken with available light. More tips and tricks on food photography can be found in this thread from the Photography On The Net (POTN) forum website.

Three seafood dishes:

Three desserts out of this world:

And the cooks in their kitchen, with executive chef Michele Deleo to the left and PhD student Carolyn Marks having the time of her life.