By Sean Setters
First off, let me admit something up front – I'm not a big fan of most of the HDR images I see. Most of the HDR images I come across look too unrealistic or simply too over post-processed for my taste. But there are times when creating an HDR image makes a lot of sense. Indoor architecture is probably one of my favorite uses of HDR imagery.
A few months ago my friend told me about a location in town that I was completely unaware of. Last week I finally made a point to go see it. I brought my EOS 5D Mark III
, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8
and a tripod.
The location, "The Arcade," turned out to be a building right in the middle of my hometown with a foyer that seems as if it were transplanted from a bygone era. As I would later find out, the building is now over 100 years old and was added to the National Register of Historic Places
The bottom floor was beautiful, but the second floor view seemed to provide an even better vantage point for a picture. Stained glass skylights allowed some of the midday sun to peek through the ceiling, but overall the light was pretty dim on the second floor. The extremely bright light coming from the 1st floor doors at the end of the foyer also presented a problem when using longer shutter speeds to expose the scene.
The extreme difference between highlight and shadow in the scene made it a good candidate for HDR photography. I set my tripod-mounted 5D Mark III to record a bracketed exposure (5 shots) and later post-processed the image with Google's HDR Efex Pro 2 plugin for Photoshop CS6.
In post-processing, I left the front doors fairly blown out because the brightness tended to draw the my eye to the center of the image (although I did dim its reflection on the floor). In my opinion, the blown out area also makes the exposure seem a bit more believable overall. And while it's an HDR image, it doesn't scream "HDR!!!" to me. And I think that's why I like it...