name is Mike Savad, I've been doing photography for most of my life,
and digital about third of it. I currently specialize in HDR images.
Many have compared my work to paintings - some have even asked
medium I use. Many compare it to Norman Rockwell, and a few other
artists. The main goal is to create something that resembles an
painting when complete. My focus is nostalgia, antiques, and
Memories are often more interesting when created in a painterly manner.
I created this site to teach those who want to learn how I
create my HDR images. Many have asked, so this site is for you.
My techniques are always changing, always evolving. So each HDR tutorial I write will differ from one to the other. I dated the guides, You can see how they differ as I add more.
|What is HDR?
Why use HDR?
Why a painting?
only recently learned about HDR
about 5 years ago. HDR has been around
for a while, there were methods on increasing the range of
visible light long before
the term HDR came into style.
The use of HDR creates something new and unique. Each person has their own style and method. Eventually, people will recognize your stuff from sight based on style alone. As a photographer you have to know by now that at a certain stage of a photographer's career, all the photo's will start to look the same - compared from one photographer to the next. I've seen so many mountain-scapes, I can't tell who made the image since they all look alike to me. One photographer will copy the style of the other, use the same equipment, and create an identical picture. However with HDR, you can create an absolutely unique image, and you can say that it was Artistically done, and created by hand.
HDR is a wonderful tool - you can create an image that doesn't suffer from the typical problems other photo's have. Blown out windows for one, it's hard to get detail inside while maintaining the same detail outside. Hidden detail in shadow: you would be amazed just how much detail is hidden in spots your eyes just looked over. By exposing multiple frames to different exposures, you can reveal detail that no one has noticed before; and because that detail is there, it helps create that painting like illusion.
Examples of my work
|What does HDR
How is is done?
High Dynamic Range
You setup a tripod (or by shoot it by hand like I do), take 3 or more pictures (-2 0 2 EV) and place them in a program like Photomatix. This will in turn press the colors into one image. Normally when you shoot a room, with a window to the outside, you will either get the window or the room - but not both. Either the room will be too dark, or the window terribly overexposed. HDR allows you to combine the shot with some amazing results. Some programs like Photomatix has micro contrast controls that lights up small details very nicely. HDR allows you to get a clear exposure across the whole image with detail throughout.
There is another method however, and that's to do it by hand. That's how I make them.
|Why a painting?|
Natively after processing and HDR in Photomatix, the image has a sort of sketched, illustrated look, sometimes painting like. Going on this I went further to create a total immersion of the image. However I don't like using programs like Photomatix due to the lack of fine controls that I normally have in Photoshop.
|What's wrong with programs designed for HDR?|
processing an HDR - there
inherent problems, if' you've tried creating one in the past you'll
understand what I'm talking about. Many problems exist when using a HDR
processing program, maybe they will improve over time, however:
hate waste. I hate wasting my time taking many photographs hoping to
get a few shots worth keeping. I also hate storing those images of
which I don't use.
Typically a good photographer will take 100 pictures to get about 10 images that they will actually use. Then out of that, you only see 1 or 2 of them, this is their best work. The numbers vary per person, but overall there is much waste. Typical photos, unless setup in a studio, will be full of problems.
Problems like too much shadow, too bright, etc. I take almost all of my pictures when I'm out on a trip, vacation etc. In locations where there isn't optimal lighting inside or out, on days that are cloudy, mid day sun, rainy, etc, or any indoor location where flash isn't allowed. My goal was to create something out of nothing. To be able to use nearly 100% of my shots. To be able to shoot in any lighting conditions, from really bright noon day light (very high contrast), to rather dark murky lighting in some corner of a room. To create something unique with a style people can recognize.
has there own photographic style.
Due to the locations I shoot in, I often get nostalgic items, with plenty of details usually in the form of different trades. I like a certain amount of business in an image. I like letting my eye wander, exploring all the details. The real world is full of details, why not capture them? However the downside is, it takes longer to edit it my work. Every inch of the scene, everything will be carefully edited individually, trying to figure out where light should fall and making that area lighter or darker, while at the same time adding shadow for depth.
Examples of my work
Suburban Scenes by Mike Savad
|Why I don't use Tripods|
make a good HDR you need 3 images stacked exactly on top of each other.
Nothing can be blurred, moving, out of place, out of alignment, and
should be noise free (using a low ISO). Tripods were designed for HDR,
and serious photographers of any type usually carry one of those
things. However, I don't.
There are a number of reasons why I don't.
But it was an extra 2 pounds, I had it in a bag for a while, then hanging off my belt for a while. It was just clumsy. While I could engage the different features, The aluminum pole that made it shorter, gets stuck easily. In the field, it may have been impossible to remove, as the threads crossed or something. I liked the leg design at first, one quick twist and all legs are unlocked, then relocked at another twist. But this made it hard to adjust the height if I wanted it to be lower down. And worse, they would sometimes unlock in the middle of a shot catching the thing as it started to tip. Also as the head is a quick release, it was necessary to keep a quick release on the camera at all times, which dug into my fingers. What was worse is that it wasn't all that stable, it moved a bit.
So that's why I don't use it, and stopped bringing it with me. I found that when I relied on it, I wasn't able to shoot what I wanted. I didn't want to bring it out in the city as it attracts attention. Many places inside frowned at it. And due to the restrictions it had, such as limtied angles, I missed out on a lot.
As I learned how to use the camera for HDR use, and the technologies improved, a new stable lens and so forth, I started shooting by hand. Mostly because I had to. I think it started on a vacation where I didn't want to bring it with me. It took a while to get the hang of it, but it is possible to shoot by hand. All you really have to do is stabilize yourself.
How to stabilize yourself:
|The Basic Setup|
get a good HDR,
you'll need a wide variety of exposures, take as
many frames as you need, you may have to bump the iso to it's maximum
to get what you need. The size of the image and how many you
take may be an issue for some. My camera shoots at 21mp, Full frame,
14bit RAW (ALWAYS shoot
in RAW by
the way). My images are 25megs a piece.
Raise the iso, and it's more, the 25000 ISO - 40megs a piece or more
depending on light and texture.
3 images on average are needed for an HDR, averaging 33megs a piece (indoor high iso's), that's about 100 megs per HDR scene. Backing up just one simple day trip of about 700 images, takes an average of 2 - Dual Layer DVD's. Until blueray goes down in price I have to use that.
My camera has the ability to save settings that I use frequently. This is what I used:(keep in mind that this camera has an auto ISO mode to 3200.)
C1 - +2 ISO 12800 or higher - to get shadow detail when the other modes just don't cut it.
C2 - HDR - bracketing - ISO 6400 - for those desperately dark rooms.
C3 - HDR - bracketing - Auto ISO - what I use for everything