After what amounted to a rather dull day for photographs yesterday, I headed back out in Firenze in hopes of getting some pictures that better captured both the color of the buildings and the nature of the Tuscan light. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the results from yesterday. Simply put, the photographs did not capture the intensity of light and shadow that I recalled seeing with my own eye. Some of this can be attributed to my own lack of ability with a camera; however, some of the blame rests squarely on the camera itself.
Basically a camera, any camera, is never as good as the human eye. The ability to capture the same level of sensitivity is referred to as dynamic range. Most cameras do a good job when the intensity of light is fairly similar throughout the area of the image; however, issues arise when we have lots of shadows and bright spots. At present, to compensate for a cameras inability to mimic the human eye there are various techniques available. One of these techniques is referred to as high dynamic range imaging (HDR or HDRI). This is accomplished by basically taking 3 or 5 images of the exactly the same subject but under different speeds while maintaining the same aperture. Doing this obtains a set of images that accurately portray the subject at different light intensities. Software such at HDRsoft’s PhotoMatix then combines the images into a composite image.
I appreciate that HDR(I) can and is abused by any number of people. And I will be, as of this post, including myself amongst this not so elite group of persons. In many instances I have subdued the amount of processing to keep more in-line with a single-shot image. In other instances I have intentionally amped things out to help highlight colors and provide emphasis to portions of the image. And like anything termed “art”, there will be people who like the results and those who do not. Regardless, at the end of the day there is really nothing special to HDR other than an extra step (or two) to the post-processing of images. That all said, I do feel that some of the images I took today better capture the beauty and wonder that is Firenze.