Thursday, October 17, 2013

Autumn Woods: HDR Photographs in Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Well, at least the federal government cannot shut down state parks!  Its a good thing, as Bucks County, Pennsylvania has many beautiful areas which really come to life in autumn.  To bring out the full range of colors and tones, I shot all of the following images in HDR (High Dynamic Range).  While people sometimes equate HDR photography with a "grunge" look, I use it to more fully capture landscapes and nature in a manner which replicates the way that our eyes see.  HDR can help make the images "pop."  If you'd like to learn a little about the process of making an HDR image, see the bottom of this post.

Except where indicated otherwise, I took all of these images during the first 2 weeks of October, 2013.  To see more of my photographs at my online ETSY shop, click HERE.

Autumn Woods and Wall
near Cabin Run Covered Bridge
High Rocks Vista, Ralph Stover State Park
High Rocks Vista, Ralph Stover State Park 
High Rocks Vista (taken in late October, 2010)
Delaware River Reflection (taken late November, 2010)
Autumn Reflections
Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve
Morning Forest
Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve
Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve
When we look at a scene which has contrasting dark and light sections, our eyes can quickly take in the various elements - those that are fully lit, those in shadows, etc.  Cameras are not as sophisticated as our eyes.  For a camera, the "correct" exposure (the amount of time that the shutter stays open) for a bright section of the scene will be very different from the "correct" exposure for a shaded part of the same scene.  So, if you base the exposure on the lighter sections, the dark areas will be way too dark.  Similarly, if you base your exposure on the darker areas, the light sections will be completely overexposed.

How do you avoid these problems and make an image in which each area appears "natural?"  To create an HDR image, the camera is usually placed on a tripod.  You then take a series of exposures (holding constant the "aperture" - the size of the opening of the shutter), and changing the exposure speed in regular increments.  You then have a number of separate images (I have created HDR images using upto ten exposures).  Using special computer software (I use "Photomatix") you merge the different exposures into one image.  This final image has the correct exposure for each part of the picture.