I have been thinking about all the water we’ve been having recently and that I must make some time to visit some of the waterfalls along the Hamakua coast, as they should be quite full. A good opportunity to take some long exposure images to produce dramatic photographs of flowing water. It reminded me of this August when we went to the Ahalanui hot ponds in Puna. It’s a great place to go with friends, family and a picnic. There’s a natural thermostat in effect: water in the pool is heated volcanically from underground while it is simultaneously fed by the cool water of the ocean. The result is a nice warm bath.
On this particular day, the sea was quite choppy and crashing over the concrete barrier. I got myself into a good position and starting shooting. The series you see above were taken one after the other as a single wave crashed over the barrier. At 1/5-th of a second and handheld, I’m quite pleased at how sharp they are (although, admittedly the first is quite blurry).
(Keep reading if you want to know the significance of the title to the post).
But clearly what you see above is not what came out of the camera. This was one of my early attempts at HDR imagery. This technique is becoming quite popular now and there are various software tools out there which can do this. One of the most popular is called Photomatix which now comes with a LR2 plugin. I’ve played with it and it’s very good, but lots of sliders to get used to and if you get it wrong, you get it very wrong. Oh, and you need to pay $99 for it.
What I use is a piece of software written by Timothy Armes called LR/Enfuse (donationware, but worth it). It’s based on the open source enfuse software which also comes as part of hugin, which I’ve blogged about before. I haven’t tried doing HDR with hugin yet but I will try, to compare. The reason I like LR/Enfuse is that it comes as a plugin for Lightroom which means that I don’t have to leave the program to use it. And, importantly, it gives quite good and realistic results as opposed to the surreal effects which you can see.
The image below show a before/after of the original and enfused image. There’s a good blog post over at Inside Lightroom which explains how it should be used. I’m doing something slightly different – instead of taking three separate exposures (clearly impossible for this situation) I made two virtual copies of the source image and changed the exposure value to +/- 2 EV and threw them into LR/enfuse. Given that the original images were RAW, it’s very simple to do and there’s no worry about aligning the separate images.