Sunday, 19 May 2013
A sense of space
This is a picture of a ruined mill in the village of Hawarden, near Chester. I went there recently with my friend Gilly. There are many wonderful places in this area and I will have more pictures to share when I get them processed but I need to start somewhere, so here we are.
We’ve had some interesting discussion on the student site recently about why we are drawn to deserted buildings, with no very definitive answers. There is a sense of melancholy and the passing of time, and in many cases also some visual pleasure in the textures, patterns and shapes made by the process of decay. This isn’t my normal subject-matter but it was such a striking space that I couldn’t resist. I’d brought my tripod along and in some ways this picture is an exercise in improving quality and detail to get the best out of my camera so there will be some further technical reflection below.
Overall I find it quite pleasing – I particularly like the sense of space and light as well as the riot of texture and detail. I’ve noticed that I often seem to go instinctively for pictures with a limited colour range. In this I find the fresh spring greens contrast well with the building details. I have made a large copy of the image (click for full size as it works better for me that way).
This is an HRD composite. I’ve tried to keep it as natural as possible and just to use the blending to capture the full range of tones. I used Nik Software HDR Efex Pro, which I got free as I already owned Silver Efex. Until now I’ve used Photomatix software and I thought it would be interesting to try this by way of comparison. In general I find Nik more user-friendly. It has a much better preview function so you can actually get a good idea of how it will look when finished, which just isn’t the case with Photomatix. That said, this pictures revealed a problem with ghosting. Unlike Photomatix there isn’t any way to tell the program where ghosting is, and although I could see that there was ghosting in one area where some branches had moved – indicated in red below – I simply couldn’t prevent it happening. When fully processed the program had produced some very funky lines and spots of bright colour in that area – see second picture below. This has been very difficult to correct. Some hours working at 300% has produced something that passes muster on a relatively small version such as this but that I’m not truly happy with. I want to try this again in Photomatix and also try perhaps blending in details from one of the originals in that area, but that can wait for another day.
Ghosting aside, I’ve been very happy with the overall quality of this image. I love the detail that can be captured with the D800 sensor, which works very well for wider landscape shots like this – see 100% screen grab below with graffiti detail (click for a full size image). I hope to make a good large print out of this scene, and in general to continue to work on improvements in the technical qualities of my images.
Post now updated with Photomatix version (below - please click on image for full size version). This software dealt much better with the ghosting. It took a few attempts as you really can't tell what is ghosted until it has processed the files, but eventually I selected all the relevant areas and it dealt with it - just a bit of work needed in Camera Raw to remove some chromatic aberration but no pixel-level processing required. I found it overall more difficult to get the fine level of control in other areas that you can have with Nix, and the result is that the image is rather more saturated overall, and at the same time loses more highlight detail. It has a slightly more 'HDR' quality to it, although I selected the most natural options where I could. I don't doubt that eventually I could get some of the highlight detail back in Photomatix, but it is not obvious to me how to get precise control over image qualities even though I've worked with the program for some time. My overall conclusion is that Nik is the more user-friendly software: the Nik image is close to my memory of the scene and what I wanted to capture. I think Nik will be my go-to program from now on, unless I have a tricky ghosting problem.
Posted by Eileen at 17:57