Cathedrals and Churches in HDR

I just absolutely love cathedrals and can spend hours wandering around and taking pictures, I find them so easy to photograph and process into HDR, when shooting I’m generally looking for the big shots so shoot either fisheye or ultra wide-angle. Using these types of lenses has its limitations and weaknesses, converging lines and distortion being the majors, although this can be used to your advantage as well. If I am using a fisheye I will try to get the floor and ceiling all within the frame, this gives a feeling of space and grandeur, although it’s easier to do this in portrait orientation I prefer landscape as I believe the eye takes in more and it just seems natural.

Look at the ceilings, most cathedrals have some impressive detail up there. Point the camera straight up. Fisheyes and ultra wide-angle can give some pretty impressive results.

If I want a more natural composure I will get the camera completely horizontal using a bubble or the NEX’s built in alignment tool, with a fish eye there will be a certain amount of barreling and the vanishing point will be in the centre of the frame, not usually a problem when using a fish eye as conventional composition doesn’t always work, although some cropping may give a more pleasing look.

In Ultra wide I may well take the shot as a portrait and then crop later on to get rid of the dead floor space.

I always try to have the camera mounted on a tripod, set to aperture priority f8 to f11 and ISO100. Bracketing I try to go for 5 brackets as low as -5 if there is strong light coming through windows and up to +4 if I  can get that high.

For processing I use Photomatix and finish in Lightroom or Photoshop HDR Pro and finish in Lightroom.

Photomatatix + Lightroom

I always start from default even though I generally end up with very similar settings just to make sure I don’t miss anything.

  • Strength              80 – 95
  • Saturation           Default
  • Luminosity          4 -9
  • Detail contrast   6 – 10
  • Lighting                                Default
  • Smooth HL          0
  • White Point        0 – 0.250
  • Black Point          0
  • Gamma                                1

And everything else left a default, it will probably look over-saturated and warm but I will process at this stage.

Open in Lightroom

  • Adjust the white balance using the dropper tool and highlighting something that is white (or close), manually adjust the temp and tint sliders if it over cooks.
  • Adjust clarity – this one was initially adjusted to +86
  • Adjust Highlights and Shadows – for this the Highlights were reduced to -100 and the Shadows were left at 0
  • Readjust clarity to +100

For this image that was the only adjustments made, other adjustments maybe; Highlights and Shadows on the Tone Curve, saturation and Vibrance (slight), Remove CA, noise reduction and Vignetting.

Photoshop HDR Pro + Lightroom 4.1

File – Automate – Merge to HDR Pro…

And follow the instructions

When the images are blended at the top right hand side of the display there are some sliders and boxes where you can make adjustments, go to the mode box and select ’32 bit’, the sliders will now all disappear, select ‘OK’ this will create the 32 bit HDR file and will take you to the standard Photoshop interface, from the ‘file’ menu on the top ribbon bar select ‘save as’ the format needs to be ‘TIFF’, give your file a name and destination directory, this should now save a 32 bit TIFF file.

Open the file in Lightroom (it needs to be version 4.1 or above)

  • Adjust Highlights down
  • Adjust Shadows up
  • Adjust clarity up

That’s usually all that’s required but may make other slight adjustments.

And for above ground stuff that’s all there is to it, underground it’s a whole different story.

Andrew Steel – I have been shooting DSLR for the last 4 years using Canons, early this year I moved on to the Sony NEX-5, I am convinced that for my type of photography the CSC’s are the right way to go so in the last month I have upgraded to the NEX-7 with a Rokinon 8mm fisheye. Every shoot now is with the intention of processing in HDR except for some night time photography when it is just not possible to get enough light on the sensor.

My online stuff can be found:

  • Adrian Evans

    Great read thank you

  • Mangyan ng MiLan

    wow!great images!thank you for the workflow ;-) keep it up