madrid

9 February 2015

Almudena Cathedral at Night

Posted in: architecture, black and white, hdr, long-exposure, madrid|

Daily photo – Almudena Cathedral at Night

Today I would like to share HDR black & white image I took at night near Almudena Cathedral in Madrid. Building was illuminated with fairly bright light and the sky was pretty dark so conversion to monochrome seemed like a natural thing to do.

Almudena Cathedral at Night

Camera Info

Finally some EXIF info:

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK III (read my review here)
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 28 mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure time: 10 s (“middle” exposure)
ISO: 200
Number of exposures: 5
E.V. Step: 1.0
Flash used: no
Tripod: yes
Filters: no
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masking, black & white
Software: Magic Lantern, Photomatix Pro 5 (Contrast Optimizer), Lightroom 5.4, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity, Topaz BW Effects
2 December 2014

Debod Temple in the Evening

Posted in: hdr, long-exposure, madrid, reflection|

Remember to share your best photos!

Would you like to see your two best photos from 2014 to be featured on my blog?
If so, read & follow the instructions I provided recently here. There is still plenty of time until due date (about 6 weeks) but maybe you already have your personal favorites from this very year?

Daily photo – Debod Temple in the Evening

Debod Temple during blue hour

I shared several photos of Debod Temple in Madrid in the past (eg. here and here), here is another one 🙂 One thing that is interesting for me is how my processing skills evolve over time. Two images I linked just above are good example of that. They were processed more than one year ago, while the image from this post was edited by me very recently. I think that my post-processing becomes more & more natural with each year. At least it’s my feeling but maybe I’m completely wrong 🙂

If you would like to create such images yourself, make sure to read my free HDR tutorial.

Camera Info

Finally some EXIF info:

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 32 mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Exposure time: 5 s (“middle” exposure)
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 7
E.V. Step: 1.0 EV
Flash used: no
Tripod: yes
Filters: ND8 neutral density filter
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masks
Software: Magic Lantern 2.3, Photomatix Pro 5.0 (Contrast Optimizer), Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity, Topaz Detail, Topaz Adjust
14 November 2014

750.000 page views of my blog :)

Posted in: blog, hdr, long-exposure, madrid|

750.000 page views of my blog

I’m thrilled to announce that my blog has been viewed more than 750.000 times! I just discovered that a few minutes ago 🙂 Thank you everyone for paying a visit, I really appreciate that. Next milestone – 1 million.

Daily photo – Sunset in Madrid

Honestly speaking, I’m slowly running out of photos I would like to share with you. There are still tons of unprocessed images, many of which look quite promising but I will probably just never manage to edit majority of them. Too many of them and so little time for post-processing. Anyone eager to help 😉 ?

Anyway I found this image from Madrid that I haven’t published here yet. It was taken during sunset near Debod Temple. Dynamic range was pretty big so I decided to use 7 exposures. Also, as I wanted a little blur on water, I stopped the aperture down to f/16 what allowed me to use longer exposures and achieve the effect I wanted.

HDR photo of Debod Temple in Madrid during sunset

Camera Info

Finally some EXIF info:

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK III (read my review here)
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 50 mm
Aperture: f/16.0
Exposure time: 5 s (“middle” exposure)
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 7
E.V. Step: 1.0 EV
Flash used: no
Tripod: yes
Filters: no
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masking
Software: Magic Lantern, Photomatix Pro 5 (Contrast Optimizer), Lightroom 5.4, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity, Topaz Detail
3 September 2014

Post-processing Wednesday: Catedral de la Almudena

Posted in: architecture, before/after, hdr, madrid, post-processing|

Time for another post in my Post-processing Wednesday series. For more posts from this series go here.

In this case Before photo is 0 EV photo without any adjustments and After image is finished image after using Photomatix Pro 5 and Photoshop CC.

Try it yourself!

Starting today I will occassionally share my source images for you to try. They aren’t RAWs (just to protect my copyright a little bit) and are downscaled to 2048 x 1365 pixels but you should still be able to play with them.

Here are the images.

If you do process those images, make sure to share your results in the comments on my blog. I’d be very interested in learning how you edited them!

One tip: the images were taken hand-held, so make sure to use alignment in your HDR tool.

About source images

Today photo was taken in Catedral de la Almudena in Madrid, Spain. I shot this image hand-held using very high ISO (3200) as I wanted it to be proof of concept for the post that high ISO is no longer a bad thing.

You can read more about the image itself in the mentioned post.

As you can see in the Before photo above, shadow areas are almost completely black lacking any detail. Highlights look generally quite ok with the exception of the altar which is a bit overexposed. So to solve both issues I decided to capture HDR image and for that purpose I took 3 exposures at 2.0 EV spacing.

You can see all exposures below. Starting from top-left they are: middle-exposure, under-exposed photo and over-exposed photo:

Bracketed photos in Lightroom
Darkest exposure (-2 EV) have all lights correctly exposed and brightest one (+2 EV) exposes shadows correctly.

Editing in Lightroom

As always I started my editing in Adobe Lightroom.

As the images were taken at high ISO I expected there to be some noise, so I set Luminance Noise to 25 in the Noise Reduction panel.

I also applied lens corrections in Lens Corrections tab by checking both Enable Profile Corrections (to get rid of vignetting and distortions) and Remove Chromatic Aberration settings.

After that I exported all my source images to Photomatix Pro using Photomatix Lightroom Export Plugin.

Editing in Photomatix Pro

Editing in Photomatix Pro was fairly easy this time. I simply used Fusion/Real-Estate default preset and saved the image. After using Photomatix Pro, it looked like this:

Result of using Photomatix Pro

Pretty good! Exposure is now correct across whole frame but the image would benefit from enhancing contrast a little bit. And that was what I focused on in my further editing.

BTW if you would like to learn more about Fusion (it’s not the same as HDR!), make sure to read my tutorial.

Editing in Lightroom once more

After reimporting my fused image to Lightroom, I used Upright tool to fix perspective a bit and make the columns straight. Then I exported my photo to Photoshop to improve image contrast there.

Editing in Photoshop using Luminosity Masks

In the image below you can see what layers exactly I used to create final image. Starting from bottom up they are:
  1. Background – image after editing in Photomatix Pro.
  2. Noise reduction – due to high ISO there was still a little bit of noise in some areas of the pictures, especially in the red stands. So I used Topaz Denoise plugin and limited its scope to those areas using layer mask.
  3. Midtones contrast – I then applied just a little bit of midtones contrast using Curves adjustment layer.
  4. Floor contrast – after that I created layer mask for the floor and added quite strong contrast to it, to make the floor pop.
  5. Shadows contrast – after that I did the same for the shadows, to add clarity to them.
  6. Desaturate a bit – it’s a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. I brought the cyans and reds down a little bit because they were visible in some areas adding some unpleasant cast.
  7. Sharpening – then I applied a little bit of sharpening using this technique.
Editing using luminosity masks
22 July 2014

Royal Palace in Madrid (B&W)

Posted in: architecture, black and white, hdr, madrid, reflection|

Daily photo – Royal Palace in Madrid

Unfortunately I’m very busy recently and despite the fact I still have a few thousand photos to process (and a few tutorials to share) I hardly have time to finish them. So today post will contain just a photo.

This photo is black & white version of image from Madrid I shared in the past. Black & white version has really nice contrast I think – something that I missed in the original colour image. You can view original HDR image here.

Royal Palace in Madrid (B&W)

Camera Info

Finally some EXIF info:

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 28 mm
Aperture: f/16.0
Exposure time: 1/160 s (“middle” exposure)
ISO: 400
Number of exposures: 3
E.V. Step: 2.0
Flash used: no
Tripod: no
Filters: no
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masking
Software: Magic Lantern, Photomatix Pro 5 (Contrast Optimizer), Lightroom 5.4, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity, Topaz BW Effects
29 December 2013

The Best Photos of 2013

Posted in: crete, hdr, lake, landscape, madrid, Masuria, mountains, Tatra, warsaw|

Last year I did a short summary of year 2012 by picking my 5 top photos from that year (you can view this summary here).

Picking 5 photos by that time was quite easy as in 2012 I didn’t take that many good photos (I was still beginner – I sort of still am). In 2013 I travelled much more – I visited Tatra mountains twice (in winter and autumn), Montpellier in France, Madrid in Spain, Crete and Santorini islands in Greece. I took several photos in Warsaw where I live as well. Apart from that my skills as a photographer and post-processor (is there such a word?) became much higher and so I ended up with more than 400 photos that had 5/5 stars rating in my private Lightroom catalogue. All of them from 2013! I love so many of these shots – choosing only 5 of them would be very difficult if not impossible. And not fair 😉

So I picked a few more… Below you will find a collection of 18 photos from various places in arbitrary order. Click on any of these photos to view them in large.

Neoromanesque crypt in Madrid, Spain. I loved textures and details in this place.
Royal Palace in Madrid. It was really blue Blue Hour creating fantastic colours.
Another photo of Royal Palace in Madrid and one of my most popular photos from 2013, probably due to warm light and reflection in a puddle. BTW to get this reflection I actually put my camera inside the puddle – don’t try it at home as cameras usually don’t like water!
Another one from Madrid – this one taken during blue hour by Debod Temple – ruins of temple transported from Egypt.
Colourful forest in Masuria, Poland processed using my painterly approach.
Warsaw, my home town, during blue hour as viewed from high vantage point. Construction of this high building is over (so there are no more cranes) so I will have to retake this photo soon.
Winter sunrise over Tatra mountains with fog lurking in the valley.
Tatra mountains again – this time during very painterly sunset.
One of the most unique photos I took in 2013 – night over the Giewont mountain.
Welcome to Mordor – image that looked like Mordor to me. Just a little more beautiful.
Mountain huts in Tatra mountains.
Autumn in Polish Tatra mountains. Very painterly scene.
View from Kasprowy Wierch over Dolina Stawow Gasienicowych in Tatra mountains.
Soft sunset light over the grass and tress on Crete island.
Colourful sunrise by the lake in Poland.
Blue hour in Warsaw as seen from Swietokrzyski Bridge.
Beautiful sunset in Masuria, Poland.
Another unique photo from me. Overexposed Moon started to look like sun what together with stars from Milky Way gave rather surreal effect.

15 December 2013

Thoughts: how to capture great HDR photo?

Posted in: architecture, hdr, madrid, thoughts|

Royal Palace in Madrid

I often get questions like the one in this post title. How to capture great HDR photo? The answer is very simple. Simply capture great photo. Simple as that.

It might sound confusing at first so let me explain. Too many HDR photographers (mainly beginners) focus so much on HDR technique itself, tone-mapping, choosing right values for sliders in Photomatix Pro, on blending the layers properly in Photoshop that they forget about the photo itself.

They pay more attention to capturing as much exposures as possible or post-processing HDR photo than to the scene and frame themselves. If it’s great, if composition is interesting, if lights and colours look amazing, if the subject is interesting too the final HDR photo will be amazing too. But if the source frames are boring, if the light is flat, the colours are dull or the composition is wrong, HDR won’t help. It won’t turn your photo into great one in such a case.

HDR is just a tool to make good photos look slightly better – by “correcting” the exposure in the darkest and brightest part. You shouldn’t think of it as a remedy to all issues. It will make good photo look good, but it won’t turn bad photo into a piece of art.

So to take good HDR photos, first thing you need to do is to take good photos in general. Sometimes it’s good to practice. Take your camera and capture photos that doesn’t require using HDR. Think of composition, of emotions you would like to convey in your image. Think about light, colours or textures. Think about your images. Not post-processing. This will make you great photographer one day and then you will notice that your HDR photos became much better too.

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/16.0
Exposure time: 2 s (“middle” exposure)
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 7
E.V. Step: 1.0
Flash used: no
Tripod: yes
Filters: no
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masks
Software: Magic Lantern 2.3, Photomatix Pro 5 (Details Enhancer), Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity
14 November 2013

Really blue hour

Posted in: architecture, hdr, long-exposure, madrid, reflection|

Debod Temple during blue hour
Click on the photo to view it in large size on black background.

Debod Temple is a very interesting place in Madrid, Spain because the ruins come from… Egypt. They were transported in pieces and reassembled in one of Madrid parks as a gift for Spanish help given to Egypt during excavations there.

The ruins look most impressive in the evening and during blue hour because warm lights make it really stand out from the background.

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK II
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/16.0
Exposure time: 45 s (“middle” exposure)
ISO: 100
Number of exposures: 5
E.V. Step: 1
Flash used: no
Tripod: yes
Filters: ND8 neutral density filter
Technique: HDR, tone-mapping, luminosity masks
Software: Magic Lantern 2.3, Photomatix Pro 5.0 beta (Contrast Optimizer), Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC, Topaz Clarity, Topaz Adjust