Greener Pastures II (HDR)

Greener Pastures II

14 Responses to “Greener Pastures II (HDR)”

  • Andrew says:

    I’ve always liked HDR images, and this one isn’t cartoonishly oversaturated the way they sometimes are. Loverly work, as always, Alan.

  • Alan says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I’m not big on overdone HDR images either. I’m just learning how to work with Photomatix, but it looks to be an effective tool for those times when I’m carrying the pocket camera with its severely limited dynamic range.


  • Don says:

    I think the technique dovetails with your aesthetic beautifully. Keep experimenting. You have a captive audience.

  • Riley says:

    Be honest now, how far from the bike path/street are you? Are you standing on it when you took the picture? I just imagine you wheeling your bike into this great scene but behind you is the highway filled with traffic and litter. :-)

  • Eddie Hurt says:

    Well, I see you’re back in Kansas, Dorothy.

  • Alan says:


    “Be honest now, how far from the bike path/street are you? Are you standing on it when you took the picture? I just imagine you wheeling your bike into this great scene but behind you is the highway filled with traffic and litter. :-)”

    I realize you’re kidding, but you do bring up a good point.

    I take a two-pronged approach. The photos of bikes for reviews, tech articles etc. are intended to be as clear and accurate as possible. The hope is to give the viewers the feeling of having actually looked at the bikes up close in person.

    The scenic shots on the other hand, are meant to portray a feeling, or an ideal. They are subjective and expressive in nature and are not intended to accurately document a particular place or time. In other words, just like you described, there may be times when a beautiful scene is juxtaposed to a busy highway just out of the camera’s viewpoint.

    In the case of this particular photo, I was actually on a dirt road approximately 1/2 mile off of the nearest paved road, so what you’re seeing is a fairly accurate representation of what was there.


  • bongobike says:

    I am very ignorant about modern digital photography (although I’m glad film is now obsolete). What is HDR?

  • Alan says:


    HDR is an acronym for “High Dynamic Range”. Here’s the definition from Wikipedia:

    “In image processing, computer graphics, and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI or just HDR) is a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminance between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods. This wide dynamic range allows HDR images to more accurately represent the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight.”

    HDR photography involves bracketing three or more exposures, then combining those files within a software application to extend the dynamic range of the image. For example, in the case of the image above, without moving the camera I took three shots of exactly the same scene, one at normal exposure, one at approximately 1 stop over-exposed, and one at approximately 1 stop under-exposed. I then brought the three images into an HDR application and combined them into one, taking the highlights from the under-exposed source file, the mid-tones from the correctly exposed file, and the shadows from the over-exposed file. Using this technique helps to compensate for the inability of cameras to capture the full range of tones in a high contrast scene (this is a particular acute problem with small-sensor compact cameras). If done correctly (that’s a big IF), HDR processing enables one to create an image that more closely represents what was seen by the naked eye. Unfortunately, HDR photos are often overdone and can take on an almost cartoon-like appearance. I try to minimize the overdone look, but you can see a touch of it in the above photo.

    To give you an idea of how it works, see the source images below that were combined to create the image at the top of the post.


  • GregL says:

    Hi Alan, your photography is always impeccable and it’s interesting to see how you are working with HDR which I agree is usually overused and seems gimmicky. This is nice and subtle but doesn’t seem to “pop” as much as your other photos, which are always so good in terms of curves / black levels etc. Your processing always seems to yield photos that say “it’s a clear day and I can see forever!” I hope you don’t mind but I ran this one through Lightroom as an experiment and will happily erase the upload forever if you object:

  • Alan says:


    Thanks, Greg!

    I like what you did with the photo. It looks as if you kicked up the contrast, vibrance, and saturation a bit?


  • bongobike says:

    Thanks for that thorough explanation of HDR, Alan. It’s amazing what can be done with digital photography.

  • Peter says:

    Thanks for an explanation that was easy to understand, and that is a very nice photo. Would it be likely more “cartoonish” with a bike that wasn’t so neutral in tone, or can that be controlled too?

  • Dottie says:

    Alan – awesome photo!

    Bongobike – film is not obsolete, no more than bikes are obsolete simply because most people drive cars.

  • bongobike says:


    I think film is obsolete as far as the mass market and the professional commercial photography worlds are concerned. Of course, film is not going away any time soon, but it’s use will be limited to enthusiasts, artists, etc., who find it appealing for whatever reasons.

    I don’t think the analogy of digital vs. film and cars vs. bikes is valid. Cars have so many downsides compared to bikes (pollution, cost of operation, costly infrastructure, and the list goes on). What are the downsides to digital photography compared to film? I can’t see any. Digital eliminates film, chemicals used in making it and developing it, labs, etc.

    Using film is not comparable to riding bikes in lieu of a car. It’s like driving a 1920s Ford Model A instead of a modern, clean Prius. Why would you drive an old, polluting machine when you can drive a much better and safer car–or ride a bike? :-)

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