Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Visit to Tulsa

This past weekend saw me taking a trip to Tulsa and taking some photos of the BOK Center in the downtown area.  While I was there I also took a couple of additional photos of the high rise skyline, this time from a different angle.

My HDR brackets ended up having to be hand-held as my tripod became unusable due to an unfortunate turn of events.  Like many tripods, my Giottos is top heavy so can be awkward to carry with its carry-strap.  If given the opportunity it will try to flip up-side-down on my shoulder and when it does this the strap attachment of just looping around the leg bottoms can lose its grip.  Guess what happened?  Yeah, it flipped and the strap popped off the legs causing it to fall head first onto the concrete sidewalk.  To make it worse, it fell onto the mount screw of the ball head, crunching the top of the threads - and as I discovered shortly afterwards, it bent the screw rendering it completely unusable.

So, back to the photos.  I took a mixture of 5 shot and a couple of 9 shot brackets, all hand held.  I was pretty fortunate in that Photoshop was able to align them and remove ghosts with minimal effort on my part when I merged them to HDR.  I also tested them out in trial copies of Photomatix and HDR Expose with varying success - of the three HDR merges, only two packages were able to align the images and remove all the ghosts automatically.  HDR Expose has some nice features but it requires a lot more work up-front to get everything aligned and ghost free, not helped by what appears to be a trickier to use manual toolset.

Before I get to posting the photos, I wanted to briefly touch on my last couple of posts about creating and using a linear camera response curve and how my first attempts weren't that successful.  I'm still finding that having Lightroom use the Camera Neutral response curve gives me the most consistent results and none to minimal banding and posterization when processing and merging the bracket images.  I also made a very interesting discovery about my Nikon D2X.  I downloaded a trial version of Nikon Camera Control and connected my camera so I could check the response curves installed and in use.  What I found is that it is using a completely flat, linear response curve.  I can't say if this is the factory setting from Nikon but I can say that it is what it is currently using.

Okay, enough talk, it's time to get some photos posted here.  So here are a selection of tone mapped LDR versions of the HDR's I took of the BOK Center:

And finally, here's my tone mapped image of the Tulsa skyline taken from near the BOK Center, to give a different view to the "usual" Tulsa skyline photo:

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