Saturday, February 2, 2008

Feb. 2, 2008: Greenville & Georgiana

I decided to hit the road today and do a little exploring of Butler County. Georgiana, Alabama, was my destination. On the way out of Greenville, I passed the Butler County Courthouse. There was some really nice cloud cover, so I decided to stop and make a quick bracketed exposure series.

I've been experimenting with High Dynamic Range imaging. The problem with digital cameras is the sensors don't have a very wide range of exposure lattitude. An HDR image allows you to combine multiple, bracketed exposures into a single, tone mapped image. The result is more detail in the shadows and highlights and a much sharper image.

Since my last Excursion post, I've switched to strictly shooting in the RAW format. The files are huge because they are 24 bit images. Meaning, all of the data the camera's sensor captures is contained in the image. This requires additional processing in Photoshop or another RAW conversion application, but allows much more control of the final image than a JPEG format. RAW format also helps in HDR generation and tone mapping of single images.

I'm getting to the point where I'm seeing how to compose and bracket HDR images, so things are looking up. However, I really need to purchase a copy of Photomatix, a HDR generating application. That'll cost me $100, but I believe it will be money well spent. I have the trial version and can generate much better images than with the freeware HDR applications. The trial version watermarks all the images though, and I don't want that.

So, with those things in mind, I set out to explore the town of Georgiana, shoot some HDR sequences and shoot a few photos to experiment with Photoshop's RAW converter. I spent most of my time riding roads looking for interesting places. I found a couple of nice pecan groves and a well manicured stand of planted pines. But the most interesting place was what appeared to be an abandoned railroad facility. Most of the tracks had been removed, but there were still three buildings standing that had no doors and all the windows had been knocked out. Better yet, there was no fence around this facility.

I spent the next couple of hours in the downtown area of Georgiana shooting reference photos and six HDR sequences. I'm going to go back to Georgiana and spend a day shooting there. It was an interesting little town. That may be a couple of weeks from now though. I want to make a trip to Honoraville and Highland Home to see what is there first.

But, overall it was a pretty good trip. I came back with three pretty good images from what was a scouting trip. I included them on my Flickr page. I need to upgrade to a pro membership so I can make more sets, so I had to lump them into a 2008 set.


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