Marina Bay and HDR

I am very bad at post processing, usually my entire flow consist in browsing the pictures, select few and import them in whatever software I have available in that moment, do a bit of white balance corrections if not done before the shoot and play a bit with highlights and shadows. After that frame it if required and resize it. Bought a lot of books on how to do advanced post-processing but never had enough patience to read them.

I am never happy with the result when I take night pictures late in the evening, usually because I like to catch it the way I see it and is not that simple. Limited dynamic range of the sensor will tend to under/over-expose parts of the picture making the lights glowing or the shade to dark. Because fo my poor post-processing skills this tend to be a problem and is pretty annoying so I decided to give a try using HDR option.

Anyway, not long ago, went with some colleagues to try taking some night shoots of Marina Bay Sands, a perfect subject for such tests: the bright lotus building on the side and some bright lights around the place tend to create problems when taking pictures. I brought along my Canon 1D Mk3 and 14-40mm L lens and the tripod, of course. I took several sets of 5 pictures with different exposures (bracketing) for this exercise.

Later, back home, I selected few and tried the HDR feature in Photoshop. The default settings are pretty unimpressive. For some reasons I had problems using RAW pictures so I switched to JPG instead. Exported all of them in JPG, import them using theĀ HDR option and first result was a bit better (is it supposed to work this way???). A bit of tweaking and managed to get some interesting results. Btw, I do not like “surreal” HDR pictures, I prefer the “natural” kind of look instead.

Some of the results are posted bellow.

Days later I tried another one but this time during sunset and different angle:

The bottom line is that using HDR may give you a better control on the results especially when you have to shoot in difficult conditions. I may be a bit too picky, some may like the glowing kind of lights in their night shoots, but I do like to see in the picture what my eyes sees. Will have to play more on this.


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