HDR Nature Photography from Eight Maestros

HDR Nature Photographers  – Eight Maestros and their work .

Manabat’s work was featured in A Distinctive Style Magazine in June 2009, and about his photograph here he explains it “was taken at Wellington Point, Brisbane. It’s quite a sentimental place for me as this was the place where I got my first inspirations, and is a few minutes drive from Brisbane City.

The shot was taken at dawn and luckily we were able to get a decent low tide and the waters were calm. The title was inspired by walking on the water on slippery rocks, where I almost fell twice.”

Photographer: Rodel Manabat. Image Above: A Walk on the Water. © Rodel Manabat.

See more of Rodel’s photos…

Mr. Manabat was inspired to return to a special place, this peninsula at Wellington Point, Australia. His framing of the point used leading lines which run from both sides of the image to a vanishing point across Moreton Bay.

Manabat’s HDR processing deftly controls a vast range of contrast from white pier lamps to the shadowy details underneath the pier walkway.

Those of you who have forded rivers to get nature images may appreciate Manabat’s fidelity to photography. His title “Walk on the Water” suggests a supernatural relationship between nature and man.

Manabat’s search seems serendipitous; he arrived at low tide and then fortuitously framed a compelling scene. This fourth featured image has many subtle contrasts: light and dark, dawn light and street lamp illumination, human built shapes and shapes from nature.

Photographer: James Neeley. Image Above: Dead Horse Point Sunset, © James Neeley 2009, used by written permission

Western landscapes are a passion for James Neeley, a prolific photographer whose subject matter varies from stop-action, to macro, to architecture.

From a fresh viewpoint, he composes a time-honored motif showing the 150 million year old natural canyons of Dead Horse Point, named for wild horses that died of exhaustion after cowboys built a fence across the narrow canyon neck in the 1800’s. Cropping out the hairpin turn of the Colorado river in Utah at frame right, his composition leads our view deeper in to the distant canyons.

Neeley’s technique is unobtrusive. His high vantage-point includes details both near and far, and in the distance he reduces detail and saturation for even more perceived depth. Subtle use of exposure blending makes for richly detailed shadows.

These same shadows sweep across his photograph, giving his picture a sensation of immense vistas.

Neeley travels widely and posts to Smugmug and Imagekind websites. His four decades of experience photographing landscapes, prior to adopting HDR, allow him to see unique aspects of scenes like this one. A completely realized photograph, “Dead Horse Point Sunset” is a masterpiece of the American West.

Photographer: Giuseppe Parisi. Image Above: Stormy Shores, © Giuseppe Parisi and used by written permission

 Giuseppe share more photos…

From the American continent we’ve crossed the Atlantic to “Stormy Shores” by photographer and illustrator Giuseppe Parisi. He says: “I took this photo in Gaeta, Italy, where I spent my vacations as a child, which awakes sweet memories from my past. It was shot in the winter, when the sun goes down earlier and sets over the sea, illuminating the coast with warm tones. “

About HDR and DRI, Parisi adds “I consider HDR and DRI as powerful tools to create photos to reflect what our eyes actually see in real life. Our eyes and brains are more complex than a camera’s sensor. Imagine you are in a room and you look out of a window. Both the room and the landscape outside are correctly exposed to our eyes, but a camera can not do that.”

Parisi observes “This is where HDR or DRI becomes essential to the photographer. I personally prefer the DRI technique, manually blending different exposures to achieve a natural look, although, sometimes a subtle HDR tone mapping can also be very helpful when blending a picture with complex light conditions.”

Parisi continues “The secret is always keeping your post-processing subtle, and you will never go wrong. From the eyes of an artist, the subject in the photo is not the lights on the surf, but the cliffs falling into the sea, tossed by the vapor of the waves and degrading in the distance: a poetry of nature that lasted only a few minutes but can be relived over and over again each time I view my photograph.”

There are poetic and symbolic elements of time in Parisi’s photograph; winter’s low light gives the image a seasonal element. Long shadows of sunset are evocative. They recall the artist’s childhood. While Mr. Parisi calls his processing technique simple, it takes sustained effort.

This “simplicity” is a mark of his craft. His mastery of exposure blending makes the technique invisible, even with the subject of moving waves.

On its surface, Parisi’s picture shows cliffs and waves. These work as horizontal and diagonal lines, compositional elements that are graphically pleasing. These lines of light match those of the waves. Each wave is suspended and appears to stop time in a symphonic moment.

While the photographer uses dynamic range increase (DRI) techniques, he does so invisibly. Parisi dedicates much effort to making his nature work glow with penetrating light. His artistry makes him a master in the field.

Parisi’s image is a fine example of the subtle use of DRI by a photographer who considers the tools essential to expresses his vision. The strength of dynamic range increase is a smooth gradation of tones when a set of exposures is blended together.

Specifically, in Parisi’s image the cloud in the sky is fully detailed, without over-exposure, even though he has directed his camera almost directly toward sunlight.

In a sense, Mr. Parisi has cued all the right melodies for his composition, and silenced all the other HDR settings that would detract from the directness of “Stormy Shores.”

The photographic symphony continues on…

by Jim Austin, M.A., A.C.E.

All written content (and most images) in these articles are copyrighted by the authors. Copyrighted material from Apogee Photo Mag should not be used elsewhere without seeking the authors permission.

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