HDR not working out…

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  • #936
    mntnbkr
    Participant

    I have an HDR question for all of you guru?s. I?m a very amateur photographer, and I think I?ve found a scenario where HDR would be helpful in obtaining the best looking picture. I?m taking photos of a backlit bottle for the ?booze? contest. (I know HDR isn?t allowed in the contest) The problem that I?m having is that the clear part of the bottle is severely overexposed when I get a decent picture of the colored parts, and conversely, the colored parts are very dull when I get a good shot of the clear parts. I took several (about 8) shots of the bottle while changing only the shutter speed so as to maintain the DOF. After merging the shots in CS2, they don?t come out nearly how I had expected them to. The clear is still severely overexposed while the colored areas are not any better than before the merge. Maybe HDR isn?t really the proper technique or process that I?m looking for here. Really, all I want to do is take the dark areas from one photo and combine them with the light areas of another. The photo below is the best I was able to come up with while not overexposing the lower area too badly.

    Any suggestions, tips, or tricks? Maybe I just need to gete a light that’s not so bright.

    Thanks everyone.
    Adam

    #9316
    XenPix
    Participant

    You could try putting a (much less bright) light onto the front of the bottle, so that you don’t lose the effect but you can see the labels.

    Any fully backlit situation is going to give you a silhouette, that’s the only thing I can think of doing to alleviate that.

    #9317
    mntnbkr
    Participant

    actually, those “paintings” are on the back of the bottle (same side as whrere the light is shining). The photo is taken looking through the front (the blue frame is on the front) at the back of the bottle (where the picture of the man is). Thank you for the suggestion, unfortunately I don’t think it’ll work in this situation, as the silhouette isn’t the problem.

    Adam

    #9318
    millera9
    Participant

    I don’t know a whole lot about HDR’s, but my suggestion would be to move the light source (if that’s possible) so that you have one shot with the well lit silhouettes and one shot with the background and whatever else well lit. That will allow you to fine-tune the lighting without having to move the camera between shots. That’s probably the first thing I’d try.

    Also, if you’re shooting with a DSLR, you can take a single photo in RAW format and then mess around with the exposure in post. I believe Elsinore posted a short tutorial on how to make HDR’s out of single RAW shots just by creating a copy with different exposure values. Should be somewhere in the forum. That might make things easier.

    Hope that helps you out some!

    #9319
    Analogy
    Participant

    How are you backlighting it? If you’re just putting a lamp right behind it, that’s probably your problem. The best way I’ve seen to backlight a bottle is to shoot it in front of a large flat-colored background (white works, but experiment with colors too), aiming all your lights at the background instead of the bottle itself.

    It also looks like your bottle’s empty… Try filling it back up with water.

    #9320
    mntnbkr
    Participant

    Thanks for the good suggestions. I am in fact lighting the bottle by shining a light directly on the back from behind… a very bright HID light that in fact, I use for biking. I tried to find a normal flash light, but I never have one when I need one. I will try using the reflected light idea. The bottle is still about 1/3 full, so adding water would really disappoint my fiance next time she makes a drink… 😈

    Also, I have some photos of the bottle without the backlight, I didn’t even think to try merging those in with the HDR.

    Thanks again.
    Adam

    #9321
    Analogy
    Participant

    Yeah, my main suggestion would be instead of lighting it with a light directly behind, hang a piece of paper behind the bottle and shine a light at the paper from behind it to create a solid backdrop for the glass to refract. You can also hang and light other pieces of paper around the bottle to create reflections. If you want a black background, you can use a paper to either side behind the bottle and just outside the frame, which should produce nice white outlines around the edge of the bottle to separate it from the background. The actual light sources can be anything. I use desk lamps for a lot of my small object photography. Brightness isn’t an issue because the objects aren’t moving and I can use a tripod for long exposures. If I want one light to be brighter than another, I can move it closer to or further away from the subject.

    The ability to control the light in your scene is probably the single most important skill a photographer should have. Strobist is a good place to learn about photographic lighting techniques that won’t break the bank.

    #9322
    Analogy
    Participant

    I whipped up a quick and dirty example using a bottle of Mike’s I had lying around:

    Click to see it in my Picasa gallery.

    Here’s the lighting setup:

    Again, click for larger. Just two lamps fitted with regular household lightbulbs, two sheets of letter-sized paper, some tape, and a couple TV trays. Voila! It may take some tweaking to get the right ratio between the background lighting and the lighting on the subject. If the picture mattered I would have brought in a third lamp to fill in the left side, but I was lazy and didn’t want to scrounge around the house.

    You can make a completely seamless white background by using a larger piece of paper and bending it so that part of it lies flat on the table where the subject can sit on it, then it curves up to form a vertical backdrop. I just had letter-sized paper on me so I had to make do with this.

    Be warned, the camera’s tungsten white balance will be too warm, and auto white balance will be too. You have to use your camera’s manual white balance function, or the eyedropper white balance in your RAW tool.

    #9323
    Elsinore
    Keymaster

    Hey mntnbkr: was the version of this photo that you submitted to the Booze theme an HDR like above? If so, it’s not eligible, as the boobies states (No HDR unless the theme otherwise allows it specifically).

    #9324
    mntnbkr
    Participant

    Thanks again for the great explanation Analogy. The “arial” photo of your setup really helped clear things up. I will see if I can come up with something better now that I’m armed with a bit more knowledge. I’ll post something if it’s worth it.

    Elsinore, as I mentioned in my first post, I am aware that HRD is not allowed in the contests. The photo posted here is the same one that I posted in the contest, and it is not the HDR version, it is just one of the many exposures that I was using. Like I said, the HDR version that I came up with was crap… not that this one is much better.

    #9325
    Elsinore
    Keymaster

    I see now–I’m easily confuzzled these days!

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