Ant Pruitt
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My First Crack At HDR via My Smartphone

Ok so I've been a fan of the HDR photos found across the web. The wide range of colors and contrast really make the photos pop. Sometimes, HDR photos are done in a style that makes the shot look like a "fantasy world." Yeah sometimes the HDR mode is overdone, but to each his own. That's why photography is an ART, folks.

Image credit Trey Ratcliff via Stuckincustoms

Image credit Trey Ratcliff via Stuckincustoms

When photographers with cameras compose HDR, they're ideally capturing one particular shot multiple times with different levels of exposure on the camera. Then those MULTIPLE shots are processed down to ONE beautiful shot using a variety of photo editing software. This differs on a smartphone as you have different apps available to shoot in "HDR mode." The processing is done "on the fly," if you will. When you snap the shot on your phone, it captures multiple shots and blends them all together for you. Sometimes this works really well. Sometimes not so much depending on the processing speed of the smartphone, camera movement, the camera optics and other variables. Here's an HDR image I shot from a smartphone that went wrong in the app processing it. It just happens. 

Image credit Ant Pruitt for antpruitt.com

So in my humble attempt to get an HDR image without using the HDR functions of my smartphone, I went with a shot of the office from the walking trail. I captured three shots with exposure values of -1.5, 0 and 1.5. Oh wait, another critical key to mention is when taking three shots of the same subject at different exposure values, you should try to use a tripod. This will keep you aligned consistently so your image isn't shifted (too much). The recent telephoto lens I purchased came with a tripod mounting bracket. I already had a tripod that I use for my webcam, so I utilized it for this project. Here's one of the shots at the 1.5 exposure value. As you can see, the higher exposure value makes this shot really bright and blown out in the lit areas.  All shots captured with my HTC One Max smartphone.

Image credit Ant Pruitt for antpruitt.com

Now. The software I used to try to finish this project. I recently grabbed the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Suite. The suite includes Lightroom and Photoshop. I've said on several occasions that both Lightroom and Photoshop desktop applications were intimidating to me. The interfaces just seemed really intense. I had gotten so used to using the likes of GIMP to edit my photos and was able to get this free app to do what I needed it to do. GIMP is like having a free, open-sourced version of Photoshop. But yeah, when I opened up Lightroom to get my photos together, it was a bit intimidating to look at. 

Screenshots credits Ant Pruitt

After adjusting the images in Lightroom far as the brightness, contrast, highlights and cropping I had to send the three images over to Photoshop. Photoshop allowed me to take the three images as layers and work them into one image by properly aligning them. This made them identical in dimensions. Nice trick.  

I think I spent damn near 90 minutes working on these layers and getting an image I liked. Once I did that, I pulled that image back into Lightroom for one more touch up on the highlights and brightness. Here's the finished product of the three shots taken, touched up, blended together and then touched up one last time. 

Image credit Ant Pruitt for antpruitt.com

Lightroom is really great at allowing for granular photo adjustments. I still have a lot to learn on it as I just couldn't get the highlights as dimmed as I wanted. Close, but not quite. Overall, I am pleased with the final product. I was able to get the "cool"  and "moody" feel I wanted. It was a rather cold day out there when I took this shot. I wanted to show that.

I can't believe how long it took to work on this. Then again, it may be because I'm a noob at this stuff and don't really know the user interface. Nor the true power within those desktop applications. I will spend more time with Lightroom and Photoshop in the near future. Eh. . .maybe more like, February. Year-end is keeping me rather busy. 

Thanks for checking out my post. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Feel free to critique. I have thick skin and can take constructive criticism. Also, be sure to follow my work over on BreakingModern. I do a daily column called Eyewitness Photo which deals with HTC smartphone owners and their favorite photography taken with them.  

Thanks, yall. 

-RAP, II