The Davenport Hotel – Spokane, WA.
The hotel is named after Louis Davenport, its first proprietor and overseer of the building project around 1914. The Davenport Hotel was the first hotel in the United States with air conditioning, a central vacuum system, pipe organ and dividing doors in the ballrooms. It is also the place at which the first Crab Louis salad (Named after Louis Davenport) was created and served. The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
My indoor image here is of the “Hall of Doges” which is one of the grandest ballrooms in the hotel. Doges means “very important”. The architecture and style of this room is Venetian Gothic.
Below, is the ballroom as your would first see it and a shot trying to get a correct exposure.
So, how did I transform this boring image to the one above?
In some tricky lighting conditions you are faced with parts of an image that have varying levels of brightness and darkness (shadow detail). You are faced with a decision with your camera. You can’t resolve all the different brightness levels, right? Do you set your camera to expose to capture the shadow detail and blow out all the highlights or expose for the highlights and have all the shadows detail fall into black? Trying to make improvement in post editing is almost impossible.
Shooting for High Dynamic Range or HDR helps get around the above problem. By capturing several images at different exposure levels I capture all the brightness information in the image. One “underexposed” images captures the far highlight detail, one “normal exposure” captures the detail in the midrange and “overexposed” image capture shadow detail. My image ended up much better, but there was simply no way to get around the brightness levels seen with the chandlers and wall lamps.
You must work in manual mode with a camera that has bracketing, or multiple exposure settings. Finally, special software is needed to merge the different exposures back together into a single image.
I use Photomatrix Pro, but there are other HDR programs like HDR Efex Pro 2 by Nik Software. Their website has a great video that explains HDR photography. Best of all, you can download a trail version!
Camera Set Up
- First – You must use a tripod. Remember, you are taking 3 images and the software is producing a final single image. Any movement may result in a slightly blurred image.
- Second – Set your depth of field (F/stop).
- Third - Determine the number of different exposure brackets for the lighting situation. Here is where you will need to do some practicing and gain some experience as to how many images to shoot and what exposure increments between each shot. Typically, three shots will work. Under ideal conditions, one exposure will be dark, the second photo correctly exposed, and the third photo will be too bright. My Nikon D300 has an exposure increments range of: 0.3, 0.7, 1.0, and I can take 3-9 images.
- Fourth – Run your HDR program, select the three images, and the program will produce a final, HDR image like you see in my first image.
One of the top HDR photography guru’s is Trey Ratcliff. There is a lot of information on his website and he has one of the most complete tutorials you can find. Even if you are not interested in learning how to shoot and process images for High Dynamic Range, it is worth your time to visit website. He has some wonderful examples of HDR photos.
HDR Pro for the iPhone
Checkout “HDR Pro” app for the iPhone. Personally, I use HDR app exclusively vs the standard “Camera” app for all my shots. You can clearly see the differences in the two images below. No editing was done. There is a free version, but when you use it every image will have an embedded signature stating it is HDR Pro.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope you learned something new.