HDR

Get My HDR Book For Free - and Get a Discount on Photomatix

Much to my surprise, and talk about big surprises, one of my 36 books, Rick Sammon's HDR Photography Secrets for Digital Photographers is free on this site.

Be that as it may . . . if you are new to HDR photography, or if you are looking for an awesome HDR image processing program, you can get a 15% discount on Photomatix, the HDR program I used to process almost all of the images in my book, including the cover, on my Play & Save on Plug-ins page.

Need a quick getting started lesson on Photomatix? Check out my video on YouTube.

Want even more HDR info? Check my iHDR app over on My Apps and Books page.

I also teach HDR on my workshops.

Explore the light,
Rick

Why I Enjoy Teaching Digital Photography Workshops

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Above: My talented and dedicated Summer Arts students in action.

This post originally ran in June 2013. For new followers, I am running it again.

I'm just back from teaching a digital photography workshop at the Summer Arts Program in Monterey, CA. The event, organized by California State University and produced by my friend Professor Mark Larson, brings together students of all ages and from all backgrounds - and at all different stages of learning.

I was one of several instructors at the event, and I was honored to be included.

You can see from the picture above just how much fun the students and I had on the workshop. That's probably the #1 reason why I do workshops: we all have fun!

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Above: Getting ready to teach Photoshop and Lightroom in the classroom.

During the three-day session we covered: travel, people, HDR, flash and landscape photography. In the classroom I shared Photoshop and Lightroom techniques, as well as tips on social media marketing.

This workshop, as do all my workshops, emphasized why I enjoy teaching digital photography from start to finish. Sure, I get to impart some ideas and techniques to the students, but I also see how each photographer pictures the world in his or own unique way.

I also get to meet awesome individuals, many of whom have incredible talent. I learn, too - and we all learn from each other.

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Above: That's Mark on the left and me on the right.

What could be more fun? Well, I'll tell ya. At the end of my workshops I go around the room and ask the students, "What does your photography mean to you?" This is a good question that you may want to ask yourself. It may help you define your photography.

During my "What does your photography mean to you?" sessions I ask the students to give a short answer, which I break down to one word. We put that one word on a white board. New for me to hear this session: Loving, Confidence, Blessing, Celebration and Heart. Always something new.

I hope to see you on one of my 2014 workshops. We learn a lot and have non-stop fun.

Explore the light,
Rick

P.S. If you can make a live workshops, you can take a virtual workshop with me on-line. Check out my Kelby Training classes here

Self-Assignment/Photo Challenge: Shoot into the Sun

From time to time I will post self-assignments/photo challenges here on my blog. Self-assignments are a good way to learn and grow as a photographer. Try 'em by yourself or with a friend.

If you take the challenge, you can post your photos on my Rick Sammon's Photo Challenges Google+ page.

FYI: This Photo Challenge is one of the several photo challenges in my forthcoming Focal Press book (Spring 2015) on visualizing and developing your eye. Shoot me an email to get on the book announcement list.

Assignment: Shoot Into the Sun

Concept: Use HDR to capture the entire dynamic range of a scene when shooting into the sun. Have the sun just peak out from behind an object. Use an aperture of f/22 to get the starburst effect.

The starburst effect is enhanced with wide-angle lenses, so the wider the lens the better. Here I used my Canon 15mm full-frame fisheye (but I now have the 8-15mm lens) on my Canon 5D Mark III full-frame image sensor camera. When a true fish-eye lens is used on a cropped image sensor camera, you don’t get the fish-eye effect.

Make sure your lens is very, very clean, as just one speck of dust can look like a big blob in your image. Take enough photographs over and under the average exposure setting to capture the shadow detail (over exposed images) and highlight areas (underexposed images).

If a person is your HDR sequence, have him or her very, very still while you are taking several exposures. That is the direction I gave my friend Mike “Spike” Ince when I made this HDR image.

As you can see in the above image, the contrast range was too great for all the detail in the scene to be captured in a singe photograph.

By the way, this is a hand-held HDR image. Wide-angle lenses and rapid frame advance make hand-held HDR images possible.

Processing Suggestions: Use Photomatix to create your HDR negative, and then process your HDR file in Photoshop or Lightroom. You can get a discount on Photomatix on my Play and Save on Plug-ins page.

Remember that HDR images tend to look a bit flat, because you are compressing the brightness range of a scene. Therefore, you need to add a bit of contrast if you want your image to pop.

If you like HDR, I teach that technique on many of my workshops.

Location: Junkyard near Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Explore the light,
Rick

Goodbye HDR! Hello EDR?

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Goodbye HDR! Hello EDR?

Digital HDR (high dynamic range) photography has been around for years. Before digital HDR, film and wet darkroom photographers, including Ansel Adams, created HDR-like images by using various techniques – including, but not limited to, burning and dodging.

I've always liked a good HDR image, mostly where the image does not look as though it was processed with an HDR program such as Nik HDR Efex Pro and Photomatix - the two HDR programs I use to create images that don't look like HDR images . . . if that makes sense.

Info on those programs, both of which I teach, is on my Save on Plug-ins page. 

HDR, as you may know, has gotten a bad rap. Do a Google search on "I hate HDR" to see what people are saying. (As an aside, I had a bad wrap a few weeks ago at a roadside deli. The tortilla was soggy, as was the lettuce.)

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Recently, someone said about my work, "He's overly fond of HDR." Perhaps that's because I teach HDR, in addition to teaching natural light photography and speedlite photography, on my workshops. Or maybe it's because I have an HDR app - iHDR. That's only one of my 12 apps. Most of my apps feature straight, non-HDR shots.

Fact is, I only shoot HDR about 10 percent of the time. Anyway . . . .

I still like  HDR - the shooting part and the processing part. Mostly, my goal these days is to create an image that does not look like an overly processed, or "over cooked," image. That said, I have been known to go over-the-top when it comes to HDR. That was, and is, good fun.

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Because HDR has such a bad rap, I thought I'd change the name of my HDR images to EDR images. EDR stands for Extended Dynamic Range.

To bring out the detail in that top left scene, HDR shooting and processing was needed to create the image on the top right. By the way, we shoot at this temple on my Rick's Backyard Workshop, which is a ton of fun.

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Even the opening  image for this post is an EDR image. I created it in Lightroom by cropping and then by adjusting the Shadows, Highlights, Contrast, Exposure, Whites, Blacks, Clarity and Saturation . . . and then by making it a black-and-white image. The train was moving fast when I took the shot. So I guess you could say this is a one-shot HDR image, but now I'm calling it a one-shot EDR image.

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By the way, many of my fellow pros are now using Lightroom and Adobe Camera RAW to create HDR, oh I mean, EDR images. It's amazing how, with these programs we can open up shadows and tone down highlights to create EDR images. So much so that you don't need to shoot and process HDR in medium contrast situations.

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In extreme lighting situations, such as the one above, a series of images is needed and processing in an HDR program is required.

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Above is also an EDR image that I made in Iceland. It's a JPEG HDR, with a bit of tweaking, of three RAW files that I took with my Canon 5D Mark III, which has built-in HDR. My tweaking included using the Detail Extractor filter (which I call the HDR simulator filter in Nik Color Efex Pro).

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So whatta ya think my friends? Should we replace the term HDR with EDR? Hey, maybe I could write another book or do another app!

In reality, it really does not matter what we call HDR/EDR. Because what's in a name?  Art is art and a photograph is a photograph. My guess is that not many people asked Ansel Adams, "How much burning and dodging did you do on that image?"

Leave a comment here in the Comments if you'd like. I'd like to hear from you. 

FYI: When I first heard about HDR and saw some cool HDR images, I thought HDR stood for High Do-it-Yourself Rockin' Images. :-) 

Explore the light,
Rick

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P.S. When it comes down to it, I think I like photographing people the most. Check out my World Portraits gallery to see some of my favorite images. However, my favorite recent photograph is this one of several Camargue horses running toward me at top speed.

Photomatix Pro 5 is Here - for the best HDR ever.

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Good news for HDR photographers: Photomatix Pro 5 is the best version every for the best HDR. New features include: Contrast Optimizer Tone Mapping for realistic-looking results, new Fusion method for real estate photography, multiple batching settings, and an option to enable fusion from a single RAW file. All very cool features. If you can't wait to order Photomatix, click here to get to my Play & Save on Plug-ins page.

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To test drive Photomatxi Pro 5, I reprocessed one of my favorite HDR sequences, taken in the Colony Hotel in Delray Beach on my Florida Photo Caravan workshop.

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Here's a look at the new interface, and here are a few quick tips: work with the histogram displayed, play with presets, start by adjusting the black and white points to control the shadows and highlights in the scene, use lighting adjustments to eliminate halos - the dead giveaway to a poorly processed HDR image.

You can download Photomatix Pro 5 (and save 15%) from my Play & Save on Plug-ins page. All of my favorite plug-ins are listed on that page.

Explore the light,
Rick