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Nick Temple-Fry
23rd October 2008, 02:06 AM
or more hdr church photographs.

(Winterbourne Bassett - St Katherine and St Peter)

Still losing sleep about creating the best possible church images using HDR, whilst retaining the 'atmosphere' of a church.

Two different images, one interior, one exterior, both treated in Photomatix.

(6 exposures -5ev to +1 ev, pattern metering)

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/509/winterbourne_1.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/8976)

(1 exposure, raw treated to make 3 files +1, 0, -1)

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/509/winterbourne_2.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/8977)

Unfortunately I'm rather pleased with these, so do your best/worst/most honest please.

Nick

snaarman
23rd October 2008, 06:59 AM
Well, I'm quite impressed.. Subtle HDR at last.

Its a long time since I saw a HDR image that didn't look ruined or false..

(OK, I'll get my coat)

Pete

art frames
23rd October 2008, 07:44 AM
Nick

There is no doubt that the colour and range of tones is smooth and fuller with the subtle HDR. That works well and you have a lot I would like to understand and try myself to achieve a similar sophisticated and professional result. Technically 10/10.

But, and this is me I know, I find buildings very hard to see as subjects. I still see them as props for people and things. So they seem 'dressed for a subject', still and waiting for action in some way. In both shots I'm waiting for the door to open and for something to happen. Maybe that is a sign that they are perfect, I don't know.

Hope this is a help.

best wishes

Peter

Naughty Nigel
23rd October 2008, 10:26 AM
I must say I really like them both.

For me the photograph of the church interior is spot on, with excellent colour balance, light and shadow, balanced with lovely colour and detail in the stained glass windows.

It really gives the feel of ‘being there’, to the point that I can almost smell it.

If I were being critical I would have liked to see ever so slightly more light and detail in the roof space above the east window, although I accept that that might have spoilt the overall effect.

Score 10/10 for composition and 9.5/10 for technical quality (lighting).

Regarding the outdoor photograph; again, I really like this photograph and feel that I want to have a walk around the grounds, to go inside the church and explore it, and maybe even swing a bell on practice evening.

My only reservations concern the prominence of the flowers in the foreground, which to me look a bit contrived and artificial. Indeed, looking at the photograph again I think I prefer it with the bottom cropped of to exclude most (but not all of) the flowers.

Score 8/10 for composition and 10/10 for technical quality.

Nick Temple-Fry
23rd October 2008, 12:01 PM
Nick

There is no doubt that the colour and range of tones is smooth and fuller with the subtle HDR. That works well and you have a lot I would like to understand and try myself to achieve a similar sophisticated and professional result. Technically 10/10.

But, and this is me I know, I find buildings very hard to see as subjects. I still see them as props for people and things. So they seem 'dressed for a subject', still and waiting for action in some way. In both shots I'm waiting for the door to open and for something to happen. Maybe that is a sign that they are perfect, I don't know.

Hope this is a help.

best wishes

Peter

This is a difficult one - I suspect you see buildings the way I tend to see still-life photographs. You might like the shapes and the tones but don't see them as 'life' or real. That of course is fine - for me the priest is about to pull the curtain aside and enter from the right - first we'll hear the scrape of the latch against the stone...; maybe the 'priest' will be 'The Master' from an old episode of Dr Who - who knows.

But for me the old Church Builders are masters of the 'art of light', the darkened auditorium, the 'light show' of rich colours from the east window, the spotlight falling on the sanctuary and alter dressings (the south windows at the East End are nearly always clear - for just that purpose). It is like a theartre set (and for largely the same purposes) dressed with natural light - our attention is controlled.

Phew - anyway - that's what I'm trying to capture.

Thank you Peter

Nick

Nick Temple-Fry
23rd October 2008, 12:22 PM
Nigel

Roofs are difficult - because they are dark, especially compared with the alter/sanctuary/East Window. I suppose my intent is to re-create the theatre in which case the shadows help, not sure I could get the roof details in and keep the effect.

Oh dear - my favourite find a bright object to anchor the corner trick - that way I'll know how the eye will traverse the shot. Maybe I overuse it (maybe I just like bright colours when I haven't got good shadows). But fresh grave dressings are often very bright. Can I hear more opinions first? - I may need to give up a favourite technique.

Pete - Snaarman - Thankyou - controlling hdr is hard, those sliders in photomatix really love the extremes.

Can I solicit more replies, those who have been around the group for a while may have noticed that I've been trying to get a technique for churches for most of the year. I really want more opinions/criticisms to 'mull' over.

Thank you

Nick.

yorky
23rd October 2008, 12:49 PM
I like both but feel that the shadows could be a little lighter, I feel this would make the image jump out rather than just being there!

theMusicMan
23rd October 2008, 12:56 PM
OK Nick, as you asked... :)

#1: This is a lovely image to be noest, and the only critique I can offer is I feel that the vertical lines could do with some straightening. I appreciate it is difficult when using a wide angle, but apart from that the lighting and composition are spot on. The subtle use of HDR has worked very well here too.

#2: Again, a fabulousl image, with glorious colours. I like the flowers in the foreground and feel they add a touch of modernism (is that the right word?) to the photo. In the main I feel the use of HDR has worked, but with these type of images i.e. sky, concrete, grass - I feel HDR has a tough job of coping with all three in the same image. The sky is gloriously blue, and the grass/flowers also have vibrant colour - but the main part of the shot - the church - seems to have that HDR'ed effect that makes it look, well... not so good. I don't have any suggestions as to how to rectify this as HDR is not my forté; maybe a selective HDR, I don't know...?

Compositionally, I would have moves slightly to the right, to keep the gravestone in bottom right in shot, but to move the church to one of the 3rds - probably the right 3rd, and have it's lines and edges all leading out to a point in the horizon. If you notice, there is a wonderful natural line starting from the top of the trees to the right, all the way down to what might be a lane/copse beyond the church... I love the way the eye is drawn there, and wonder what's beyond the church... a 'mystery like' quality.

How's that...?

Naughty Nigel
23rd October 2008, 12:57 PM
Nigel

Roofs are difficult - because they are dark, especially compared with the alter/sanctuary/East Window. I suppose my intent is to re-create the theatre in which case the shadows help, not sure I could get the roof details in and keep the effect.

Oh dear - my favourite find a bright object to anchor the corner trick - that way I'll know how the eye will traverse the shot. Maybe I overuse it (maybe I just like bright colours when I haven't got good shadows). But fresh grave dressings are often very bright. Can I hear more opinions first? - I may need to give up a favourite technique.

Pete - Snaarman - Thankyou - controlling hdr is hard, those sliders in photomatix really love the extremes.

Can I solicit more replies, those who have been around the group for a while may have noticed that I've been trying to get a technique for churches for most of the year. I really want more opinions/criticisms to 'mull' over.

Thank you

Nick.

Nick,
I would love to know more about your HDR technique, as for me it is almost perfect.

I have a particular interest in old church buildings, and from the examples you have shown you seem to have not only captured the visual element, but also the 'feel' and almost the smell of these wonderful old buildings.

Having read your comments I looked at your photographs again. I think I agree with you about the roof detail, as what you show is actually very realistic.

However, I do feel that the fresh flowers in the outdoor shot are too strong, and I find that my eye is drawn away from the church and to the flowers. Cropping the bottom of the photograph resolves that, although I would prefer to leave that part in - perhaps shot from a slightly different angle, or with the flowers de-focused a little.

Thinking again about that interior shot, I believe that with techniques like HDR it is almost becoming too easy to create a photograph that actually shows a lot more detail than we would ever see with our own eyes, and so is not realistic.

(We went through a similar phase with Polarising filters a few years ago, and tobacco filters as well IIRC).

This is rather like recorded music, where we have become conditioned to think that what we hear on a CD is the same as we would hear in a concert hall; which is rarely, if ever the case. Likewise, we have become accustomed to 'perfect' performances on CD, where the musicians never, ever hit a wrong note, and Conductors never drop their batons. Those who play regularly, even at professional a level will know that everyone makes mistakes from time to time.

And now I have gone completely off track...................*chr

Naughty Nigel
23rd October 2008, 01:06 PM
OK Nick, as you asked... :)

In the main I feel the use of HDR has worked, but with these type of images i.e. sky, concrete, grass - I feel HDR has a tough job of coping with all three in the same image. The sky is gloriously blue, and the grass/flowers also have vibrant colour - but the main part of the shot - the church - seems to have that HDR'ed effect that makes it look, well... not so good. I don't have any suggestions as to how to rectify this as HDR is not my forté; maybe a selective HDR, I don't know...?

Knowing the area reasonably well, I would say the stone of the church is a fairly accurate representation of how it would look in real life.


I like the flowers in the foreground and feel they add a touch of modernism (is that the right word?) to the photo.....
.
If you notice, there is a wonderful natural line starting from the top of the trees to the right, all the way down to what might be a lane/copse beyond the church... I love the way the eye is drawn there, and wonder what's beyond the church... a 'mystery like' quality.



Agreed. But I find that the flowers tend to stop my eyes from exploring further.

Graham_of_Rainham
23rd October 2008, 01:06 PM
Both are very good and I agree with a lot of the comments already made.

The interior shot is for me an excelent example of what we can now do with the technology. I remember spending hours measuring all the exposure settings in places like this and setting up multiple lights to achieve the balance that you have got. Then there would be the hours spent in the dark room burning in and holding back various bits of the image to end up with a similar result to that which you show us here.

I feel we often forget the power that the technology provides us and here is a really good example that inspires the production of better images.

Thanks for showing these.

*chr

StephenL
23rd October 2008, 01:06 PM
I really like number 1 - the colours are rich and detailed, and the subtle HDR treatment has worked well in this instance.

Number 2 I'm not as taken with. Yes, it's a good picture, but I feel that you're not gaining by going HDR with this - normal photograhic techniques would give the same result (perhaps in this case it's TOO subtle!). I agree with Nigel re the flowers in the foreground. I find them "disturbing" for some reason I cannot put my finger on. Perhaps you are right, fresh grave dressings are too fresh and garish and contrast with the sombre nature of churches.

Nick Temple-Fry
23rd October 2008, 04:23 PM
Oh good - some more comments, more to mull over and learn from. And lets make it clear I really want to get this kind of photography 'right'; why I'm not sure, certainly it wont make me rich, but perhaps it'll make me happy?

John (Musicman) - correcting verticals is something I'm just getting into, I did (I thought) the window wall - is it the rhs that is upsetting you. (actually I probably need to take more care to get the camera spot-on level in the first place).

You and I seem to like the aesthetic of the bright flowers - apparently no-one else does. Pity - I'm fond of this trick. Maybe I'll have to pull back on the way I use it.

Not sure I quite see the shot you are pointing me towards - if I moved right then the church would move left, If I change the angle I lose the North side of the church.

Graham I wouldn't have the foggiest idea about how to achieve this result with film and lights, my hats off to anyone who can achieve this. But you are right - the technology is very powerful and deceptive in its ease of use, taming it is the problem.

Yorky Not sure I want the first to jump out - but I'll probably have to lighten it a bit for printing.

StephenL not sure I could have got this shot without - The autumn colours on the South side of the church were very subdued/lost. I wonder if doing the hdr properly (multiple shots) would give me a better result - letting me pull back the details without over egging the saturation/brightness on the flowers.

Thank you all for your comments and please, if anyone else has criticisms/comments then I really want to hear them.

Thank you

Nick

Nick Temple-Fry
23rd October 2008, 07:20 PM
Well the 2'nd picture got the most adverse comment - so I've tried something.

Here is the original jpg cropped to match

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/once.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/8997)


Here is a combination of the jpg and the photomatix (photomatix version floated in as a layer, set to 50% opacity and a slight reduction in saturation)

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/both.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/8996)

The difference are in the lightness on the South side of the church (rhs), the west faces of the church and in the distant trees. Also compared to the original photomatix version the brightness of the grave dressings are reduced.

As The GIMP seems to struggle with exif in tiffs (and I did pp as tiffs) - here is an extract of the exif.

Model - E-3
ExposureTime - 1/250 seconds
FNumber - 9.00
ExposureProgram - Aperture priority
ISOSpeedRatings - 160
ExposureBiasValue - -0.70
MaxApertureValue - F 2.80
MeteringMode - Multi-segment
LightSource - Auto
Flash - Flash not fired, auto mode
FocalLength - 13 mm
ExposureMode - Manual
White Balance - Auto

(Oh - if anyone says - well if you hadn't shot a -0.7ev you wouldn't have needed to this - can I point them at the clouds - awfully bright and white)

Nick

Ellie
23rd October 2008, 10:41 PM
Tough call isn't it? If the flowers were cropped out it would be fairly ordinary. I think they add something. I also prefer the one with the lighter trees to the side of the church.

The interior shot is lovely, the red crucifix seems unusual.

Nick Temple-Fry
23rd October 2008, 11:05 PM
Tough call isn't it? If the flowers were cropped out it would be fairly ordinary. I think they add something. I also prefer the one with the lighter trees to the side of the church.

The interior shot is lovely, the red crucifix seems unusual.

OH - Ellie - that cut to the quick, fairly ordinary indeed, but I'm afraid you are right. With the afternoon light failing to give shadows etc, fairly ordinary is what it would have been - I am found out at last!!!.

Thank you, it was a simple wood cross treated with stain, quite effective and a natural for reflecting the light.

Nick

snaarman
24th October 2008, 07:16 AM
OK - looking for perfection mode: The third attempt at picture 2 is getting quite close for me.. But now for the impossible: Having something in the bottom left corner is a good plan, but there's too much there in my book.

Thus I would want to remove all the foreground flowers except for a single red rose in that flower holder.

Retrospective photography is great, isn't it :)

Pete

Henk
24th October 2008, 07:23 AM
Hmm.. I wish you hadn't shown the original jpg. The processed one looks unnatural and it even shows more now side-by-side. It would look better (to my eyes) when you could use the hdr to lighten the rh side just a touch, maybe 15% hdr?

I wonder why you chose to process this image as hdr? It looks like that with lifting the shadows a little you would end up with a perfectly acceptable and natural looking image.

As for the interior shot, I like it but it's is on the edge of natural/over-processed, most churches I have visited tend to be pretty dark inside.

Of course this is just my opinion.:D

Henk

P.S.: Re. the title: Marx? :)

Nick Temple-Fry
24th October 2008, 07:28 AM
Ahh - you want me to drive around with a red rose in a simple glass jar balanced on the dashboard - mind you I think you are right except a couple of roses, slightly splayed might work better.

But it is almost a matter of principle to photograph what is actually there, the most I do towards set dressing is to remove any rubbish or move a plastic chair.

Nick

Nick Temple-Fry
24th October 2008, 07:59 AM
Hmm.. I wish you hadn't shown the original jpg. The processed one looks unnatural and it even shows more now side-by-side. It would look better (to my eyes) when you could use the hdr to lighten the rh side just a touch, maybe 15% hdr?

I wonder why you chose to process this image as hdr? It looks like that with lifting the shadows a little you would end up with a perfectly acceptable and natural looking image.

As for the interior shot, I like it but it's is on the edge of natural/over-processed, most churches I have visited tend to be pretty dark inside.

Of course this is just my opinion.:D

Henk

P.S.: Re. the title: Marx? :)

OK - I'll 'give up' on the exterior shot, as Ellie says with her oh so cutting tongue, fairly ordinary is the best it can hope to achieve.:)

(but I still like the processed shot - so there):p

I'm bemused by the comments on the interior shot, maybe a bit oversaturated, but processed to be too bright?, now that I really need to think over to understand.

Nick

Makonde
24th October 2008, 09:10 AM
OK then,as you asked, Nick: No. 1 I like but I agree with others that in a formal interior of this nature it should be straightened up.

No.2 doesn't appeal to me but I think it has potential. I think the colours have become too pastelly and twee. I think the composition has rather too much in it to be cohesive and engaging. Either graves with flowers, or the church with gravestones, but not all in together might make a shot that would appeal to me more. Also, this one doesn't look entirely vertical though I think that may be an optical illusion, as on closer examination the church tower does appear to be true and vertical!

But then (as you've probably noticed) I'm predisposed towards pics that tell some visual story. Here, the stories that suggest themselves (to me) are either:

a. The line of five plain, stark gravestones in front of the stark church that has been there for centuries; or

b. The presence of flowers by graves suggesting remembrance and renewal, a progression of ancestors and generations.

In either case a low viewpoint might give emphasis to the visual story: foot of the graves, wide angle with church behind for story (a) or foot of the flowers, wide angle and in front of older and more weathered stones for story (b).

Well that's my 2p worth. What do you think?

Napper
24th October 2008, 09:20 AM
Hi Nick I love both shots.

Particularly like the no1 I think the colour balance and tone are just about perfect.

No2 I like the flowers in the fore ground, often times when looking around churches there is a blaze of colour from fresh flowers which contrast with the often muted, sometimes dark stonework of the surrounding graves or buildings. My only area of concern is the seeming lack of detail on the church tower itself. The side of the church seems to have more detailed brickwork as do the graves in front of the tower but on the tower itself it seems to be a little lacking in detail. Maybe a little more contrast on this area would bring it out but overall I love the shots and the subtle HDR work you've done.

Nick Temple-Fry
24th October 2008, 10:39 AM
Hi Nick I love both shots.

Particularly like the no1 I think the colour balance and tone are just about perfect.

No2 I like the flowers in the fore ground, often times when looking around churches there is a blaze of colour from fresh flowers which contrast with the often muted, sometimes dark stonework of the surrounding graves or buildings. My only area of concern is the seeming lack of detail on the church tower itself. The side of the church seems to have more detailed brickwork as do the graves in front of the tower but on the tower itself it seems to be a little lacking in detail. Maybe a little more contrast on this area would bring it out but overall I love the shots and the subtle HDR work you've done.

Thank you

I think the difference in the tower and the building you see is actually a result of the different dates of building.The church building is mid 14'th century of rough cut stone (though the locals I believe claim 11'th century), the tower is late 15'th century of cut and dressed stone. I would also suspect that tower may had had a thin lime rendering (now decayed) further hiding the stone joints. Basically there is more relief texture in the building than in the tower.

I'm learning to live with the controversy of the flowers - basically I think the image would be too bland without them. Maybe if I'd have got there earlier and shot with a different sun then the church would have been stronger.

Thank you

Nick

Ellie
24th October 2008, 10:54 AM
OK - I'll 'give up' on the exterior shot, as Ellie says with her oh so cutting tongue, fairly ordinary is the best it can hope to achieve.:)

(but I still like the processed shot - so there):p

Nick
Ooooh! :p

The thing is that we've all seen pictures of churches, Parish Magazines and so on, and postcards of them too dating back to whenever they started making postcards. They don't change much and I think it's hard to get an innovative, or "new", picture of something that's been standing in the same place for a few hundred years that not only shows the building at its best but also captures the atmosphere of the place. That's what I meant by "ordinary", at least I think so. :p

(How's that for wriggling like a worm on a hook?)

Nick Temple-Fry
24th October 2008, 10:55 AM
OK then,as you asked, Nick: No. 1 I like but I agree with others that in a formal interior of this nature it should be straightened up.

No.2 doesn't appeal to me but I think it has potential. I think the colours have become too pastelly and twee. I think the composition has rather too much in it to be cohesive and engaging. Either graves with flowers, or the church with gravestones, but not all in together might make a shot that would appeal to me more. Also, this one doesn't look entirely vertical though I think that may be an optical illusion, as on closer examination the church tower does appear to be true and vertical!

But then (as you've probably noticed) I'm predisposed towards pics that tell some visual story. Here, the stories that suggest themselves (to me) are either:

a. The line of five plain, stark gravestones in front of the stark church that has been there for centuries; or

b. The presence of flowers by graves suggesting remembrance and renewal, a progression of ancestors and generations.

In either case a low viewpoint might give emphasis to the visual story: foot of the graves, wide angle with church behind for story (a) or foot of the flowers, wide angle and in front of older and more weathered stones for story (b).

Well that's my 2p worth. What do you think?


I think the lesson I pick up for the interior shot is that I must be scrupulous with the angle of the camera front/back, I thought I was but obviously I was a couple of degrees out. Ah well - live and learn.

The exterior - well responses have been mixed. I still tend to think I did my best with what was there, but maybe I should have been there at a different time. One thing I couldn't do is move grave dressings to 'pose' a shot; even if I remembered to return them - it wouldn't, to me, seem right.

Thank you - I'm learning a lot from all these comments - and will learn more when I re-read them when I'm less attached to the images.

Nick

Nick Temple-Fry
24th October 2008, 11:17 AM
Ooooh! :p

The thing is that we've all seen pictures of churches, Parish Magazines and so on, and postcards of them too dating back to whenever they started making postcards. They don't change much and I think it's hard to get an innovative, or "new", picture of something that's been standing in the same place for a few hundred years that not only shows the building at its best but also captures the atmosphere of the place. That's what I meant by "ordinary", at least I think so. :p

(How's that for wriggling like a worm on a hook?)

Ellie - you were never on the 'hook' as far as I was concerned - because, of course, you were right - everyones dog has photographed churches so there is little 'new' to do.

As to commenting on your wriggle - well I'm too much of a gentleman.

Nick

Naughty Nigel
26th October 2008, 12:39 PM
OH - Ellie - that cut to the quick, fairly ordinary indeed, but I'm afraid you are right. With the afternoon light failing to give shadows etc, fairly ordinary is what it would have been - I am found out at last!!!.

Thank you, it was a simple wood cross treated with stain, quite effective and a natural for reflecting the light.

Nick

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/509/winterbourne_2.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/8977)

I love both of these images, and don't think that either of them is 'ordinary' in any way. However, I am still perplexed by the flowers, and keep coming back to look again and again.

The problem, IMHO, is staring me in the face, and that is lighting, plain and simple.

The church is in the shade, and despite HDR treatment looks slightly cold and unwelcoming. The flowers, on the other hand, are in bright sunlight, and so attract our attention.

If were me, I think I would be planning to return in late spring or early summer, probably late-ish in the day, when the south and west sides of the church are bathed in warm sunlight, and (hopefully) the sky is fairly clear. That, IMVHO, would make a much better balanced photograph, with or without the flowers.

Maybe we should organise a forum day out there to see who can get the best shots? ;)

Nick Temple-Fry
26th October 2008, 05:01 PM
The problem, IMHO, is staring me in the face, and that is lighting, plain and simple.

The church is in the shade, and despite HDR treatment looks slightly cold and unwelcoming. The flowers, on the other hand, are in bright sunlight, and so attract our attention.

If were me, I think I would be planning to return in late spring or early summer, probably late-ish in the day, when the south and west sides of the church are bathed in warm sunlight, and (hopefully) the sky is fairly clear. That, IMVHO, would make a much better balanced photograph, with or without the flowers.



I suspect general interest in this image is near exhausted.

The problem with this church is partly the light, partly the fact that the south side of the church is near the boundary and shaded from the South West through to the South East. And, perhaps more signifigantly, the fact the graveyard has been tidied, the church has been left in stark isolation in a hard green sea.

It practically begs to be shot as forbidding. That there is "a damnation and here stands the only bastion of salvation"; a very different kind of shot to the one taken here.

Nick