Starting to dabble in HDR photography

fyrstormer

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Well, for some reason I'll probably never understand, I actually bothered to look up HDR this time (I've heard of it about five times now), and then I played a bit with my little Canon Exilim camera. (I can't adjust the F-stop, but I can adjust the ISO, white balance, and EV, so that's close enough.) Unfortunately my camera only allows a ±2EV adjustment, but it's enough that I was able to take a picture of the bookcase in my living room without flash and with a table lamp turned on right next to it, and the HDR image still came out much clearer than the originals. Good stuff; now if only there were a way to hit the trigger once and have the camera take three pictures in quick succession with -2, 0 and +2 EV settings.

From the five minutes I spent playing with it, it looks like Picturenaut is the easiest program to pick up and run with; it also avoided inverting the brightness of the spill around the table lamp, which Photomatix messed up on.

However, now I have a question: HDR images occupy a color space that completely encloses CIE RGB, and presumably at least mostly encloses CIE CMYK -- but CIE RGB and CIE CMYK are different from each other, so if I print an HDR image compressed to fit into the CIE RGB color space, I won't get all the colors I could be getting. Are there any programs that can take uncompressed HDR images and compress them to fit CIE CMYK and then send them to the printer? I bet Photoshop can do that, but it would be awesome if there were something a little less expensive and a little more free I could use.
 

DoctaDink

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Thanks guys! :wave:

@DoctaDink - it's actually a consulting company... but their space was awesome.

@Vesper - if you notice the cross bracing of the building in the right window, that's the John Hancock Center... located here in sunny Chicago. :D

@LEDobsession - I can certainly appreciate the crazy things that HDR can do to scenes. It's obviously not appropriate for what I do, but I think we're seeing the tip of the iceberg as far as what's to come. :popcorn:

:thumbsup: john
Yes, those are some very nice spaces. By any chance, was it designed by VOA? It looks like their style.
 

jch79

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Yes, those are some very nice spaces. By any chance, was it designed by VOA? It looks like their style.

I'm not sure who designed the space - I wasn't taking the photos for the architect. But VOA's stuff is always really cool. I sometimes wish I had gone to school for architecture... but taking pictures of it is just fine by me. :)

@fyrstormer - I know Photoshop can handle 64bit images, but most of my stuff is for on-screen, so I don't worry too much about printing. Any time I make prints from HDR images on my wide-format printer, they look fine - no weird banding issues or anything. The whole 32-bit/64-bit thing is too much to think about for me. :tinfoil:

:thumbsup: john
 

UnknownVT

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Well, for some reason I'll probably never understand, I actually bothered to look up HDR this time (I've heard of it about five times now), and then I played a bit with my little Canon Exilim camera.

"Canon Exilim" ? Casio makes an Exilim - is that what you meant?
(Canons are PowerShots)

However, now I have a question: HDR images occupy a color space that completely encloses CIE RGB, and presumably at least mostly encloses CIE CMYK -- but CIE RGB and CIE CMYK are different from each other, so if I print an HDR image compressed to fit into the CIE RGB color space, I won't get all the colors I could be getting. Are there any programs that can take uncompressed HDR images and compress them to fit CIE CMYK and then send them to the printer? I bet Photoshop can do that, but it would be awesome if there were something a little less expensive and a little more free I could use.

I think you might be making way too much of this, most people just work in RGB (actually sRGB) and print from that. Hardly any hobbyists use CMYK (normally used by commercial printers).

However if you are looking for a powerful versatile and Free photo editor - then try the GIMP - it also has a wealth of plug-ins - it probably can do the color space conversions - but beware color space conversion is normally fraught with dangers for color fussy/critical applications - this normally means using anything other than the usual sRGB, one should start with the original image in the wanted/correct color space -
and I'll bet a "Canon Exilim" does not have that option.......:)
 

fyrstormer

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"Canon Exilim" ? Casio makes an Exilim - is that what you meant?
(Canons are PowerShots)
Heh...oops. Yes, I meant Casio. Canon makes my printer.

I think you might be making way too much of this, most people just work in RGB (actually sRGB) and print from that. Hardly any hobbyists use CMYK (normally used by commercial printers).
I probably am making too much of it, but I prefer to know what is possible and then decide how much effort I'm willing to invest, rather than limiting myself according to my "station". Anyway, everyone who's ever printed something in color has used CMYK, because those are the colors of ink that all color printers use. (unless you start off working in CMYK, the printer driver will cross-convert from RGB to CMYK for you.) I would prefer to down-convert straight from whatever color space is used in an HDR image to CMYK instead of passing through RGB and losing some of the colors as a result, but that all depends on whether any software exists that can do that.

I'll bet a "Canon Exilim" does not have that option.......:)
As far as I know, no digital camera can change the color space that an image occupies, because the color space is defined by the sensitivity of the photoreceptors on the image sensor -- unless you can change out the image sensor, you're stuck with the same color space at all times. Film cameras can do that, of course, because each brand and type of film is sensitive to different colors -- but when you scan the negatives, you're still downconverting to the color space allowed by the scanner's image sensor. There's no escape, unfortunately.
 

UnknownVT

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I probably am making too much of it, but I prefer to know what is possible and then decide how much effort I'm willing to invest, rather than limiting myself according to my "station". Anyway, everyone who's ever printed something in color has used CMYK, because those are the colors of ink that all color printers use. (unless you start off working in CMYK, the printer driver will cross-convert from RGB to CMYK for you.) I would prefer to down-convert straight from whatever color space is used in an HDR image to CMYK instead of passing through RGB and losing some of the colors as a result, but that all depends on whether any software exists that can do that.

A lot of photo editors can take regular RGB and split into CMYK -
but it might not be quite as expected.

.....and if you manage to get a real CMYK file - good luck in trying to get it printed at any of the regular photo printers - like Ritz Camera, WalMart, Walgreens etc - they are set up for regular RGB files......

As far as I know, no digital camera can change the color space that an image occupies, because the color space is defined by the sensitivity of the photoreceptors on the image sensor -- unless you can change out the image sensor, you're stuck with the same color space at all times. Film cameras can do that, of course, because each brand and type of film is sensitive to different colors -- but when you scan the negatives, you're still downconverting to the color space allowed by the scanner's image sensor. There's no escape, unfortunately.

I understand that any camera with RAW files can let you define the working color space for its output file -
I think what you meant was that the color gamut is fixed on any digicam since that is limited to its sensor -
Color space is normally associated with the file produced and the working "color space".

It's one thing to want to understand color spaces and their color gamut - but I really do think you are making all this unnecessarily complicated
and are possibly going to get unexpected/unintended results.
 

jch79

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Yup - all of the printing RIP software and drivers do a great job of converting RGB images (which are much easier to work with on the computer, IMHO), into CMYK.
 

blasterman

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If you've seen the latest printers none of them are a pure CMYK. They have multiple tones and dilutions of ink, so I'm not sure if true 'CMYK' even exists with desktop printers.

In any case, even if it did, it would be native to the print engine and even if you could aquire in pure CMYK it would still have to be translated.Use to be a lot more straightforward when you shot simple plates.

Trying to remember my color science, but I thought LAB gave the best translation to CMYK without degenerate mappings.
 

qwertyydude

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The canon ip4600 is real CMYK. Unlike most other printers canon has the finest 1 pico liter print head which eliminates the need for photo cyan and photo magenta which are really just watered down versions of the full strength ink. They're used to make lighter shades of the color because the shading would look grainy if you tried to use dark colors to make light shades. I know my canon ip4600 creates photos that are better than printing at walmart or costco and is cheaper since I refill mine.
 

Tekno_Cowboy

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I don't know about costco, but walmart's photo service quality is pretty horrible at the local store. For some reason I can have 6 copies of the same photo, and they'll all look different.

I mostly use target's service now, as the Kodak system they use gives me consistent high-quality results.
 

UnknownVT

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The canon ip4600 is real CMYK.
and is cheaper since I refill mine.

Just a word of caution -
it's a bit long (7 pages) -
but it's worthwhile reading

Printer Ink Review at ConsumerSearch.com

Here are some extracts:

Quote:

" About one-third of consumers now use third-party printer ink. Yet, it continues to be very controversial because it often doesn't work and it can damage printers.

The printer manufacturers want you to believe that ink formulations are as proprietary and unique as the formula for Coca-Cola. Indeed, all tests by reviewers confirm that third-party ink is different from OEM (original equipment manufacturer) ink. However, many reviews also show that certain third-party inks and ink cartridges can be just as good or better in some cases. They are also less expensive.

While no often-tested printer ink brand is consistently recommended as a product to avoid, one aftermarket solution is rejected by multiple testers. Consumer Reports, Which? and PC World all say to avoid do-it-yourself inkjet refill kits. All cite the same reason: the process is too messy. Testers at work in lab coats have less to risk than you might at home. Spilled inkjet ink can permanently stain clothing, carpeting and furniture. Testers report that inkjet refill attempts resulted in a mess more often than not. In his ViewOnline.com review, Todd Hewey advises, "I do not recommend the InkTec color refill kits. I'm very detailed oriented and if I can't get it right after three tries, then something is very wrong with the kit or the instructions."

But in short, the majority of reviewers say you'll get the best quality if you stick with OEM printer ink and paper. This is especially true if you are printing photographs. However, if you aren't picky, or aren't generally printing critical documents, most experts say some third-party inks are just fine and they are certainly less expensive.

Reviewer tests reveal two indisputable advantages to OEM cartridges: they are more reliable and prints will last longer. Reviewers cite chronic difficulties with third-party ink. In many cases, testers had to run the printer's cleaning utility before getting them to work. Printers actually use ink in the cleaning process, so wasted ink is one of the reasons why third-party inks can be as expensive as OEM ink on a cost-per-page basis. HP and Lexmark cartridges have built-in print heads. They will build up ink with repeated refilling, and quality will deteriorate, or the printer won't print. Print heads in Epson and Canon printers are below the cartridges. If they become gummed with ink, the printer will require service. The reliability issue with aftermarket ink is perhaps the biggest benefit of OEM cartridges from Canon, HP, Lexmark and Epson.

According to Wilhelm Imaging Research and other reviewers, if you are primarily printing photos, select the OEM cartridge. The big three manufacturers (HP, Canon and Epson) all make archival inks for their middle and higher-end photo printers. Epson's UltraChrome K3 inks, HP's Vivera inks and Canon's ChromaLife inks are all rated to last nearly 100 years or more without fading.

Third-party inks are not made to endure. One Wilhelm test shows that photo-paper prints made with Island Ink-Jet's Canon-compatible cartridges, as well as HP cartridges refilled with Office Depot and Staples inks, only last a few months before changing quality. Wilhelm's comprehensive tests evaluate photos in real conditions, including under glass (framed) and in photo albums. After a 2006 study, Henry Wilhelm concludes, "If one includes print permanence as an important aspect of 'overall product quality,' then the aftermarket photo inks and media we looked at in this study fall far short indeed."

However, if you're not printing photos and aren't concerned about longevity, third-party printer ink is often just fine. But costs savings often aren't dramatic. Consumer Reports attempts to calculate print costs and compare differences. Editors cite surprisingly small differences. Off-brand inks only offer small savings, they say. In an older test, PC World reached the same conclusion.
"
Unquote.

As far as I know almost all inkjet printers use CMY inks.

Unlike most other printers canon has the finest 1 pico liter print head which eliminates the need for photo cyan and photo magenta which are really just watered down versions of the full strength ink. They're used to make lighter shades of the color because the shading would look grainy if you tried to use dark colors to make light shades.

The top of the line Canon Photo Inkjet printer - PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II actually uses Photo/pale Cyan and Magenta inks as well as Red, Green, and Gray inks
 
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Tekno_Cowboy

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I've tried the refill route, and I'd have to say that my experience is about the same as indicated in that quote.

Now that I'm mostly using monochrome laser, it's not so much of an issue anymore. My 3rd party toner works perfectly in my printer.
 

Archie Cruz

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Yes. HDR is a godsend. Ansel Adams would have gone crazy with it and the zone system would have been pretty redundant. One question. I've dabbled with PhotoMatix. I hate the interface. who out there considers themselves expert enough to recommend the simplest tool for HDR?
Here's an old school solution using Photoshop's layer blending function.
Carou_3Up.jpg

MGR_1.jpg

Not nearly as good as dedicated software.
Also. Think about the implications of HDR VIDEO !!!!:popcorn:
 

Archie Cruz

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Actually, I suspect that 'tonal mapping' is key to HDR, since a realistic image involves tonal mapping to partially 'mask' highlights (which is all it is anyway). Tonal mapping alone is great for underexposed Zone V and below and as you point out, if the image contains 0-X (full scale) HDR is pointless except to create that 'effect' that everyone craves till about 6 months from now, when it will seem trite.

Trivia Question. Who performed the first manual masking for increasing the dynamic range of his print?



If you answered Ansel Adams, you were right. He has this technique of creating 8"X10" masks that he wiggled under his enlarger to burn midtones and shadows!:whistle:

Docta,

Easier just to select the higlight areas in one image, select inverse, copy, and paste it on the other image with a tad of feather. I do this now and then.

HDR is a cool tool, but the reality here is that HDR images are actually the product of the tonal mapping that occurs afterwards. If you just create a HDR image from several exposures and don't tonal map it the result will be grey, muddy, and uninteresting.

The 'look' that people rave (or whine) about in regards to HDR shots doesn't really have anything to do with HDR. It's just the funky tonal mapping that the software does afterwards. Sometimes it's fun to drag tonal range all the way from deep shadows to details in puffy clouds, but I dare say 85% of the time the HDR step isn't required, especially if it's a low contrast scene to begin with. Some software allows you to tonal map without messing with HDR.

This scene for example was simply tonal mapped from a single exposure. Over-cast day, so HDR wasn't necessary.

3994374898_20c9a080b8_o.jpg
 

UnknownVT

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who out there considers themselves expert enough to recommend the simplest tool for HDR?

I am not -
but please look at Post #3 on page 1 of this thread -
there are 3 surveys of HDR software,
and a link to a survey of HDR tutorials.

Hope that helps.
 

qwertyydude

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In regards to refilling it works fine if you do it properly. In fact refilling your own printer is better than buying third party cartridges which is what that consumersearch site was "testing". But I find that review so biased. No ink formula will ever 100% match the oem but that's misleading because even among oems all ink is not equal, canon has several different inks on the market and they're all different formulas but their drivers are profiled for them, and that something called profiling is what makes pictures look consistent. Any good refill ink should be able to be profiled to match oem print quality which is what I do and I can put up an oem ink print and my profiled ink print and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. And if you buy a different paper then you need to profile that to look correct as I've noticed different papers can be as much as 10-15% off on it's color rendering on the same set of inks oem or not.

And if I were to add up how much the oem ink costs, the equivalent cost would be $3000 for the 2500 ml of refill ink that I bought for all of $80 which is the price of just 2 sets of cartridges. In fact for over a year now I refill my printer, the printers at work at two locations totalling 3 printers, my aunt's and my friend's printer. And I've only used up about 1/3 of my supply. It really frees you up because you're not afraid to print anymore especially color, in fact I tell everyone I refill to print in color whenever possible just so I don't go through my black faster than colors.

As far as clogging more than likely the inks did not clog the print head but had flow issues due to poor manufacturing because of the use of cheaper cartridges which is entirely different to refilling because you can use the original cartridges just refilling them. And the site thinks that just because some guy they hired in a lab coat couldn't fill his ink cartridge after 3 attempts means you shouldn't try it. I've refilled mine dozens of times without problems. In fact there's a forum dedicated to various inkjet refilling processes and reviews which puts the consumersearch site to shame like we put other flashlight review sites to shame. In fact with the right tools and techniques my canon printer looks and functions just the same and I wouldn't even spill a drop of ink using the german refill method. And if you're using a printer with an integrated printhead on the cartridge, that is the ultimate ripoff in the printer world, low quality prints that take forever to print out and the carts are often just 7.5 ml total (I'm looking at you HP) whereas a single color on my canon is 9 ml. So it's pretty much down to $3000 vs $80 plus about $40 in tools and some learning how to refill carts, I'll pick $120 and some labor and for the amount I save I don't mind having an ink stained finger or two a few times a month, it's something I dealt with anyways since I also write with fountain pens.

http://www.nifty-stuff.com/forum/index.php
 
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UnknownVT

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But I find that review so biased.

Interesting comments - since ConsumerSearch actually based their findings on 17 separate reviews - they are supposed to be reviewing the reviews - (ie: something we'd do logically if we had the resources and time....)

But everyone is entitled to their opinion (including ConsumerSearch) -
I respect that -
and as always YMMV.

Lack of longevity of any third party inks (as Wilhelm Imaging Research found) - can be a crucial issue for some people.
 

qwertyydude

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I did a little durability test of my own and put several printouts of pictures including a control that is kept in a ziploc bag with the air removed and a sillica gel packet inside a box indoors. My findings so far is that yes canon oem ink is fade resistant on their paper but the best fade resistance is actually swellable polymer based hp paper which did not fade at all when exposed to direct sunlight in my window for 6 months. In fact there was no appreciable difference in the fade characteristics between my canon oem and my generic refill which does lead me to believe canon's ink is not some magical mysterious formula that leprechauns make in an enchanted forest, they both fade at about the same rate. Faster on generic paper and very slow on big name branded paper. Which my conclusion is that stratitec did not pay to have their ink certified under a rather expensive test but my own testing revealed similar fade resistance as canon oem so I'm happy with it. And 100 years in the test didn't seem to translate to having it in my window for 6 months as canon oem on canon paper faded noticeably in 6 months same as generic ink on canon paper.

The biggest differences I see so far is the paper you use, swellable polymer paper is the best for fade resistance but is also expensive and they smudge when freshly printed and when dunked in water will turn to slime and the image will wipe right off the paper. Porous paper which is labled as instant drying doesn't smudge when fresh and is generally more water resistant with Kodak's ultra premium being pretty much waterproof. So if anything get a decent brand of refill ink but stick with a good brand of paper. My favorite paper as far as quality is concerned is Ilford, just as fade resistant as canon paper but less expensive and no branding on the back so I can even print info or a postcard on the back.

There's a lot of info on that inkjet refill site that even 17 "expert" reviews don't delve into. Just like I wouldn't trust reading 100 reviews of what the best flashlight is after joining this forum. So I take those inkjet review sites with a grain of salt after having joined the inkjet forum.
 
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UnknownVT

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There's a lot of info on that inkjet refill site that even 17 "expert" reviews don't delve into. Just like I wouldn't trust reading 100 reviews of what the best flashlight is after joining this forum. So I take those inkjet review sites with a grain of salt after having joined the inkjet forum.

That applies equally to any post too -
since that's likely to be just one person's opinion.
 

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