Archive for Canon

HDR Workflow

Posted in technique with tags , , , , , on February 23, 2010 by Jim

Monk and Begger in Lhasa, Tibet.

HDR is rapidly becoming more mainstream. I recently met Trey Ratcliff ( in Tampa and I’m seeing more and more articles on the technique in mainstream photo magazines. For Canon shooters (sorry Nikon folks, but these techniques may likely work for you too!), I am going to post my workflow for taking and processing HDR images.

First of all, on most of the Canon models except for the 1D and 1Ds, the camera is limited to 3 exposures for AEB (automatic exposure bracketing). While this is good for most images, there are times where a wider range might be desirable. So, I pre-set and register a -2 stop (plus on shot right on the proper exposure!) AEB on the C1 setting of my 5D and 7D and a +3 stop AEB on C2. I do this by setting up the camera for ISO 100, AV mode, f/8 on the lens and then AEB setting the highest bracketed shot at the 0 setting on the dial by adjusting the exposure compensation. I also set the camera for rapid fire. I then use the menu to register this to Custom setting 1 (the C1 on the mode dial on the top left of the camera). I change the AEB range by changing the exposure compensation dial to begin at 1 stop over the 0 point and register this setting to C2. If I need more or less aperature, it is easy to quickly change these settings on the fly and re-register them.

When shooting, I line up my shot, turn the dial to C1 and use a wireless remote to fire off three shots, then turn the dial to C2 and fire 3 more – voila! a 6 exposure range! I may adjust this range to favor underexposing instead of more shots overexposing, depending upon the scene I’m photographing.

Once I return home, I transfer the RAW images into my computer backup drives (of course I’m shooting RAW!). I then use Lightroom to select the range of RAW images for each shot (and may even do some minor white balance correcting), then I select Export and export the range of images into Photomatix or HDRShop – more often than not, I transfer them as JPGs, but TIFs are fine too!

Once in the HDR software – I tonemap the image to my liking, then process it and save it. Now, I go back into Lightroom and transfer the original RAW images into Photoshop by selecting Edit in Photoshop in layers. This will transfer the images into one project as individual layers. I then bring in the tonemapped image, copy and paste it on top of the layers. Finally, I apply layer maps and selectively adjust the tonemapped image as appropriate from the original RAW images – generally light and darker areas, and remove subject movement, if necessary. At this stage, the adjustments are very subjective.

Once I am done adjusting and flattening the image, I may bring it into a plugin such as Topaz Adjust or Phototools, or apply a curve to the final image, sharpen, size and convert it to an sRGB if it is destined for the web. Again, at this point it is highly subjective and often I will try different processes on it until I get something that I like.

Finally, RAW images alone also contain more dynamic range than can be displayed on a normal monitor or in print and sometimes a single RAW image processed in Photomatix or other software can benefit and that is how the image on this article was done!

DIY Intervalometer for Canon & Nikon

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on December 29, 2009 by Jim

Completed Intervalometer from Otter Creek

This is an unusual item that Canon and Nikon photographers might find useful – an intervalometer! An intervalometer is a device that will permit the photographer to set the camera to take a series of images for a set interval. A common use is for time-lapse images of flowers opening, etc. Well, you can do the same thing with you DSLR from Canon or Nikon (others too, with the right adapter). This intervalometer is actually a kit which is available from created by Otter Creek (
Features of the CT-1 intervalometer include:
– Optically isolated interface to the camera
– Standard intervalometer function with options for setting delay time and exposure time.
– Built-in optical sensor for triggering camera with light/shadow.
– External port allows for easy integration of alternate trigger circuits (sound, light, …)
– Manual mode for simple trigger and bulb mode exposures.
– Two position pushbutton for trigger – focus/shutter, just like on the camera.
– 2′ cable terminated with Canon &reg E3 plug (2.5mm stereo)
– Optional cables for connecting with other cameras

For only $60 – and an evening of soldering – this might make a fun addition to your photo toys!!

Canon 5D MK II HD Video

Posted in Review with tags , , , on October 1, 2008 by Jim
Laforet video shot with Canon 5D MK II

Laforet video shot with Canon 5D MK II

Canon recently announced their update to the aging 5D, the new 5D MK II.   Normally I wouldn’t get too excited except Canon added a new feature (likely inspired by Nikon’s latest release) and added HD video capability to this 21 Megapixel camera.  Since I have a background in filmmaking as well as still photography, I find this addition quite interesting.  However, just adding video capability isn’t a big deal, if the video is an after thought with low quality, jerky footage.

But, that isn’t the case – Canon added 1080P HD 30 fps capability!  What makes this so exciting is the fact you achieve the same (or similiar) look and depth of field as the ‘big guys’ do with their 35mm motion picture cameras!  Will the actual video live up to the hype?

Take a look at the following website – and see what you think.  I was amazed at the quality of the video shot with this pre-production camera.  Vincent Laforet is a New York based photographer (and one of Canon’s “Explorers of Light”) who managed to get his hands on this camera for a weekend and put together some sample video that is simply incredible.

I read somewhere that National Geographic want their photographers to be versed in video as well as still photography and now one camera can do it all.

I think I want one!