HDR and High Speed

Posted on: November 10, 2010 | Comments(8) | Drivers, More than meets the eye | By: Shawn

As the ice slowly begins to crawl across the lakes here in Minnesota, my mind wanders back to the smell of ethanol and warm sunshine. Simultaneously I also begin to plan and think about next year. Winter is always a season of change and experimentation for me. Most of those experiments happen at the local hockey rink, and make their way to the track come spring. An area I would like to explore next year is the world of HDR (high dynamic range) photography.

What HDR allows is the merging of several photographs into one, in order to better exhibit the range of light between the lightest and darkest areas of an image. Typically this is done through bracketing when you have a still subject to work with, or by editing a RAW file of drivers or track action. Essentially you are taking images which are correctly exposed, overexposed, and underexposed into one image! Once the images are merged you can make a number of adjustments, including definition, contrast, and color saturation you desire. There really is no right vs. wrong at this point…The program I use to merge my images is called Photomatix Pro, and is available for about $100.00. There are a variety of other programs available as well, including one for the new iPhone!

The topic has recently caused a little controversy amongst photography purists… Some see this as a new opportunity, while others view it as cheap photography. Below I have included some early experiments. We have included the original image as a basis for comparison. Let us know what you think?

Dario on Pitlane: f 2.8 at 1/8000

I really liked the increased definition in the firesuit and track here! However, where did those clouds come from?

Dario in pit lane

Dario before...

Dario in pit lane and HDR

Dario after...

Danica Waiting: f 4.0 at1/1600

I love how the textures came out here! However, getting blurred areas as smooth as you’d like without losing definition can be tricky! This was a tricky one!

Danica in the car

Danica before...

Danica in the car HDR

Danica after...

Gasoline Alley: f 2.8 at 1/4000

Was surprised about the definition I pulled from this one.

Pushing in Gasoline Alley

Gasoline Alley before...

Pushing in Gasoline Alley HDR

Gasoline Alley after...

Kanaan: f 9.0 at 1/160

I was pleased how this worked with an action shot at slow shutter speed, but maybe not my favorite type of image to use the software on?

Tony zooming by

Tony before...

Tony zooming by in HDR

Tony after...

What do you think of HDR and these images?


There are 8 comments for this post.

  1. Ricky Rea on November 10, 2010 9:57 am
    Ricky Rea

    Thanks for showing & sharing this…. Very cool pictures…

  2. Michael on November 10, 2010 10:15 am

    “I really liked the increased definition in the firesuit and track here! However, where did those clouds come from?”
    It comes from not using the Highlights Smoothness slider in Photomatix.

    I’d say it’s a safe bet that none of these are true HDR images. As you say, HDR allows one to combine multiple images, these are all clearly single image shots (Dario on Pit Lane and Danica could be multiple shots, but I doubt it). Using a single shot to do HDR is not really HDR, it’s just tone-mapping. These are all nice compositions, but a bit overcooked IMO. Try playing with that Highlights Smoothness slider to get rid of the dark/burnt cloud effect and your images will really look nicer.

  3. kyle on November 10, 2010 12:37 pm

    douche, lol.

    these pictures are fine-

  4. Shawn Gritzmacher on November 10, 2010 5:32 pm
    Shawn Gritzmacher

    “Michael, it is indeed an experiment from a single source that I created multiple TIFFS from to create the final image,and not a true HDR image. I’m looking forward to bracketing some images together next season and comparing the difference! It is a fun tool, it sounds as if you enjoy working with Photomatix as well?”

  5. Michael on November 10, 2010 11:09 pm

    Hi Shawn

    I’ve done the multiple tiff’s from a single source and found it to work pretty well too, although most of my shooting is 3-7 brackets. I’ve never been much of an extreme-wide-angle guy but your first and third shots have me re-thinking that. As I said, very nice compositions!

  6. Erik on November 11, 2010 1:28 pm

    I dig most of those shots. I have just started to dabble with HDR and really wish my camera could auto bracket. My favorite shot is TK at high speed. Very cool looking!

  7. shaun on November 27, 2010 12:48 pm

    Overworked images that may be “arty” but are not what the Speedway looks for in its documentary photography work.

  8. Zak Holsinger on June 23, 2011 4:56 pm
    Zak Holsinger

    i really enjoy looking at the photos but the originals look better. the hdr look is not being executed properly.

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