Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dabbling in easy slide shows and HDR

Hallmark's Smilebox provides an easy and
quick way to get a slideshow together and
emailed. Their templates range from the very simple,
classic and clean, to the all out "scrapbook" look.
There are single page "postcards" and multi-page
"books". Thankfully, Hallmark has the styles
grouped and sorted nicely, so finding a simple
slideshow with minimal graphics is fairly easy.
A choice of 3 music tracks is provided for each
Smilebox for free in the "basic" package, but you can opt
for the "premium" package, which allows unlimited
music choices, bigger viewing size and no
advertisements on the page.
The "basic" package is 100% free, if you
don't mind the smaller size, the ads, and
limited music clip choices.
The slideshows below are the "basic" version
and can be emailed, forwarded or blogged now, or
at any time in the future.
If you look carefully past
Hallmark's family oriented, busy graphics, you'll
find the simple, clean designs for
more serious photography slideshows.

Click to play October's Party

The slideshow (Ridge Storm) below is a quick one I did last summer while I was experimenting with HDR (high dynamic range). Photomatix is the free trial software I used, as evidenced by their logo. If you can put up with the logos, the free trial download can be used indefinitely.

HDR requires shooting 3-5 images or so, bracketing the "over" and "under" exposures so that the HDR software can then make a composite image. In this way you've got the shadows opened up and the hightlights filled in with info. My Nikon D80 has a 3 frame, +-2.0 setting that works well.

above, HDR - final composite

middle exposure

2 stops underexposed

2 stops overexposed

HDR can be used in subtle ways to obtain a more perfect exposure of a difficult lighting situation, or it can be used for extremely dramatic, 3-D like effects. Once you figure out your camera's bracketing procedure, haul your tripod out and decide on a lighting-challenged subject. It's fun to see what "cooks up" later in the HDR software's compositing process.

I didn't know about HDR while I was shooting the "October Party" sunrise images, but wished I had, as I did a fair amount of post processing to better balance the skies' exposures. HDR is the sort of post-processing tinkering that will remind you of the fun part of being in a traditional darkroom.

Click to play Ridge Storm 7/9/2008

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