Q:I wanted to tell you guys how much I enjoy your blog. I think your photographs are amazing. They are gorgeous and capture the spirit of the park beautifully. How long do you spend editing photos? I work with Photoshop frequently and you guys have skill in editing photos. Are there filters or techniques you like to use?
Thank you! We spend roughly a couple of hours on a photo. We use a number of different filters from the Topaz plugin suite and, as for techniques, mainly layers and masking. We actually just came out with a couple of HDR Tutorials. A free version, which is a basic ‘how to’ and will take you through Photomatix Pro, and our full guide which will take you through our entire process from Lightroom to Photomatix Pro and finally, Photoshop. We also include some of our early work that’s never been seen to show some mistakes with HDR and how to avoid them. Check them out here
Q:First of all your work is amazing! I will be in DL next month and am looking forward to trying my hand at HDR. How do you determine what your ISO, Shutter and F-stop settings are going to be? Do you use the TTL Meter? Thanks, I find your work just amazing!
Thank you! ISO, shutter and f-stop all depend primarily on lighting conditions and whether or not you’re using a tripod. Without one, you definitely need a quick enough shutter speed to hand hold without blurring any of your images. For most shots, f-stop is the primary deciding factor because it gives you your depth of field, or lack thereof. From there we try to keep the ISO as low as possible because the HDR process can enhance noise quite a bit. If we want to imply movement in a picture or freeze it, then shutter speed takes priority. We do use the camera’s metering, but occasionally disregard it if it’s not giving us the exposure we want. We have our cameras set to Matrix Metering most of the time, which tries to give you the best exposure for everything you see in your viewfinder. Most of the time, that works very well.
Q:We just received question on Facebook that we felt was worth answering here: "I've got a question for you that wasn't in your q&a. Hope you don't mind. I'm looking into getting photomatix but am unsure which version to get. You said that you guys fix ghosting in adobe but the pro version of photomatix says it has that. So do you use the pro version but like Adobe's ghosting process better or do you use the essential version? Thanks for your help! Can't wait till the full ebook is ready"
We use Photomatix Pro which, as mentioned, has an option to remove ghosting. There are two modes to this — the first tries to analyze and remedy ghosting automatically and the second (and better option of the two) has you make selections around the affected areas manually. Sometimes, Photomatix produces an acceptable fix from this process, if the ghosting wasn’t too bad and didn’t span over a section with too dynamic of exposure. Most of the time, the affected area isn’t deghosted all the way and worse yet, it looks nothing like the rest of the image, which leaves you having to mask later in Photoshop anyway.
Experience has trained us to be in the habit of making the fixes for ghosting in Photoshop. You can fine tune the tools you work with and create masks that blend more gradually for a much cleaner result. With a little practice, the process becomes pretty quick for the average ghost removal. While it’s unfortunate that there’s not one program that can do it all, the end product is worth the multi-program workflow.
Q:When are you planning on having you HDR guide out and how much are you expecting it to cost? I would really like to improve my HDR skills, and I have a feeling that your guide will be very informative.
We released a free guide just this evening that can be found here at our website — Free Guide to HDR. We have a more in depth full version that will be available in a couple of days for $10 for the first week and $15 after that.
Q:Hi guys! Love your work! I had a question for you. I want to buy a DSLR camera preferably a Nikon, but I don't know which to pick I don't have a big budget so anything over $1000 is too expensive for me, but I do want something that I can take quality pictures with and also create some HDR photos too. Do you have any suggestions?
Fortunately, these days you don’t need a big budget for good image quality. If you’re set on Nikon (which we use and enjoy), the models you should probably check out are the D3200 and the D5300 (coming out in a couple of weeks to replace the D5200).
The D3200 sensor was rated very highly and the D5300 features the same sensor as the D7100, which is getting into the more expensive “prosumer” bracket. The major difference between these cameras and their high end counterparts is the build quality (think weather sealing and metal vs plastic). Less expensive cameras also sometimes lack convenience features, in this case exposure bracketing. That’s a feature that really comes in handy with doing HDR and probably the only caveat with going for the D3200 or D5300 models (the D5300 technically has the feature but not at exposure intervals useful to HDR). You can still bracket exposure yourself by manually changing shutter speed. In this scenario, it would be crucial to have a tripod or other stable surface to avoid movement.
If the lack of this feature really bothers you, you could always look for a used D90 or D7000 (those are the models we use!). Sometimes you can find them at a bargain. As a last note, keep in mind that a lens has far more to do with image quality than the camera body.
As technical as that all sounds, don’t let it intimidate you. The best camera you could ever buy is the one that makes you want to pick it up and shoot. Hope this helps!