Posted on Sep.29, 2010, under HDR

Detroit and Mackinac - HDR

(Nikon D700, 28-300mm at 78mm, ISO 1250, HDR 7 Exposures @ f/8.0)

On a recent quest to try out a new Nikon lens (the 28-300) and to visit places that might make for interesting HDR images, I visited Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. As I mentioned in my previous post, Greenfield Village was created by Henry Ford to celebrate American industry and achievements. The image above was taken in the DT&M Roundhouse. I believe the railroad car in the picture is a caboose from the Detroit and Mackinac railroad.

One of the things that always impresses me when I visit this roundhouse is the size of the tools. The wrenches hanging on the rack are huge. The exhibit doesn’t let people wander around in the maintenance area. The area serves both as an exhibit and as an actual work space when Village railroad equipment needs repair. There is a walkway around the top of the roundhouse where visitors can observe the area below. I took the shot of the caboose from the observation area.

When I processed the image, my goal was to bring out the texture and details of the old railcar. In the non-HDR image it’s harder to see the wood grain, nail holes and other details in the car. Some could argue that the HDR doesn’t look realistic, and in this case it doesn’t. I didn’t use HDR to create a realistic image, I used HDR to highlight a feeling I had relating to the condition of the car.

Processing consisted of performing some noise reduction on the original images in Lightroom. I shot this at ISO 1250 with my Nikon D700, and while the Nikon does a nice job on limiting noise, when you process images for HDR, any noise just gets amplified (at least with Photomatix). After the noise reduction, I processed the images in Photomatix 4 (beta). Finally I took the image into Photoshop and used Topaz Adjust on the ‘Detailed’ preset to bring out more texture in the image. This make the image look overcooked so I reduced the opacity to about 35% to get the level of clarity that I wanted.

When I was processing the image I also made a black & white version which I also like. I’ll post that tomorrow


Copyright © 2010 James W. Howe – All rights reserved.

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  • That’s insane.. With the processing, the angle and the amount of details here, it almost look like something alien. At first I thought it was a train cart or something (the windows and the small wheel confused me I guess)
    Nice work though. No matter how long you look at it, you can always find a new details you missed earlier.
    • James Howe says:
      Thanks! I really need to hook up a feature where you can click the image to see it larger. There are more details at the larger size (although the image isn’t as sharp as I would like)
  • neuromonkey says:
    Very nice images! One thing I do to get the detail and microcontrast of HDR with less of the comic-book-esque colors is to process in Photomatix, possibly do some Topaz Adjust/Detail noodling, and put that on top of a layer with the original image. Then I decrease the opacity of the HDR layer, leaving the more natural look of the original with some of the detailing of HDR & contrast processing.

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