Chicago Skyline HDR Experiments

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by s0nus, Jun 5, 2012.

  1. s0nus

    s0nus Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 13, 2010
    This past weekend had me hunting down publicly accessible vantage points with line of sight of the Chicago skyline. I've been itching to try out my newly acquired 14-150mm, but harsh lighting conditions had me shooting bracketed +/- 1 Ev shots which I then magically merged with Photomatix and further processed in LR.

    Comments are wholeheartedly welcome. I'm not sure if I pushed some of these sliders a bit too hard in my processing for my own taste.

    1. From the top of the garage at the old Children's Memorial Hospital:

    2. Near the Shedd Aquarium:



    5. Today I returned to the parking garage to try to get a night shot. I'm not very happy with the result, and was hoping to get the communities input.


    This one was shot at f8, with exposures at 1.3, 3.2, and 8 seconds each.

    What is going on with the overexposed blooming on one of the lights in the left middle of the frame while the other is nicely exposed? Even the darkest exposure exhibits it.

    Would a polarizing filter help here? I do not have a lens hood, but couldn't make that flare go away with my hands. The white overexposed area in the center was caused by some large lighting system seen on move sets.

    I had the EPL1 mounted on a fairly lightweight Slik Sprint Pro II tripod. It was quite windy, with a visibly noticeable vibration in the system when gusting. While I can easily attribute the shot's fuzziness to this, maybe the flairs can also be somehow caused by moving during the exposure?

    Should I have simply exposed for those lights?
  2. AstraWlad

    AstraWlad Mu-43 Rookie

    May 30, 2012
    The sky is great, I really envy you to live in such spectacular place :).

    So you should make a darker exposure :). It's simple: when you are planning a HDR shot you start with a shutter speed quick enough to catch a lightest part of the image and move on to the one long enough to "open" shadows. And it is better to use more open aperture because most m4/3 lenses have a peak performance at around f/5.6.
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  3. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    Real Name:
    My 2 cents would be that for the night shot, you move the tripod forward enough to get past those giant lights. Then you might have a keeper.

    For the others, it seems the white balance is a little on the warm side and it makes the sky looks kinda off.

    Also, are you using a UV filter? It seems the shots where the skyline is further away the building lack contrast because of haze. You're definitely on the right path.
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  4. RevBob

    RevBob Super Moderator

    Jun 4, 2011
    NorthWestern PA
    Real Name:
    The sky appears to be a typical overcast/cloudy day to me - if the WB is off it's not by much. I also prefer a warmer tone in photos (personal preference) so these look great to me.
    The night scene could be cropped to remove the parking garage, and thus, the light on the left. The flare in the center could be reduced or removed in PP - if you have Photoshop/Lightroom/etc.
    I thought the HDR processing was spot on. Very nice!
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  5. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Real Name:
    If it were me, I'd move my tripod to the end of the garage. The obvious concern then is that if your lens isn't wide enough, then you can't get the skyline in the entire frame. Two stitched shots would then work best for a panarama.

    I really like the first shot, as it feels ot me to have the most potential. However, the brightness of the clouds is a bit distracting for me(in terms of viewing the skyscrapers). If it were me, I'd tone those down and boost the exposure of buildings in the skyline a touch.
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  6. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 12, 2011
    South Bend, IN
    I agree with Djarum, the balance between clouds/buildings in the first one is a little jarring. The ones from near the Shedd looked fine.
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  7. Uwharrie

    Uwharrie Mu-43 Veteran

    May 10, 2012
    North Carolina
    Real Name:
    Lynne Ezzell
    I am new to trying HDR as well. From an aesthetics pov I would crop 1,2 & 5 to crop out the buildings in the foreground
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  8. s0nus

    s0nus Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 13, 2010
    Ah I actually took a shot close to the wall as well, but it came out a bit too blurry to be salvageable, hopefully simply due to camera shake from the wind.

    For the others, I agree - it's a bit too warm and not really true to what the scene looked like. I admit that I got a little overzealous in PP. ;-)

    And in fact, I did use a UV filter. I always have it on, and I only took it off for the night shot. Although not as bad as LA, Chicago generally has a perpetual haze - the day I snapped the first shot was pretty medium on the clarity scale. Today it looks like its much clearer.

    Thanks for your feedback! I find it very valuable!
  9. s0nus

    s0nus Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 13, 2010
    Thanks! I made it ever so slightly warmer than neutral WB in post processing, akin to Oly's out of camera JPEG processing. I share your preference for warmer tones. However, looking at the resulting images now, it's a bit too warm to be true to the scene ... but then again, that's not always my goal.

    I absolutely agree. I'm going to give that image another try and tone down the sky a little bit. Thanks for the feedback!
  10. MikeR_GF1

    MikeR_GF1 Mu-43 Veteran

    Buildings look natural, while the sky is surreal. But there are times when that is exactly what I would want. No halos around buildings, so I'd say that you're handling Photomatix pretty well. The rest is a matter of personal taste.
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  11. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Not over-cooked which I like when it comes to HDR...:smile:
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