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Wear and tear

By ladigit
This was taken in Charleville Castle, Co. Offaly. The staircase is really old and has a legend of being haunted. I love the light and the shadows but it is so difficult to expose for the bright light coming in the windows and the otherwise very dark corners.

I will be going back to this location next month and would love any advice for taking a better quality shot of this.

Thanks,
Tracy

Tags: Stairs Architecture

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This photo is here for critique. Please only comment constructively and with suggestions on how to improve it.

Comments


TanyaH Plus
13 1.3k 376 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2014 2:30PM
To be honest, I think you've done well to get the tonal range you have here ... okay, there's a couple of areas that are burnt out and have not details, but in a way it kind of adds to that old, worn out feel.

I'm sure the critique team will step in with advice for next time, but if it was me I'd be tempted to do a bracketed series and then combine them in editing software. That way, you'll have detail in the highlights, and still retain detail as well in the shadows.

HDR 'proper' may kill the atmosphere you're trying to create - I don't know. But there's surely got to be a middle ground somewhere between the two approaches?

I like the image a lot, by the way. Beautiful sweeping curves and lovely sharp lines always make a nice combination. I'm curious as to the choice of yellow background though ... not that it's not nice, but for me black seems to solidify the elements of the image better (and also, oddly, seems to reduce those bright white highlight areas a bit too). Smile

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ladigit 2 229 1 Ireland
11 Jul 2014 2:43PM
Hi TanyaH - thank you for your comments. It is a tough place to shoot as there is no internal light source - just the light from outside, which is hard to avoid blowing out - well it is for me anyway!

I have never tried bracketing or HDR proper and it might be something worth trying when I visit next month, it would be an interesting experiment for the location as there is so much texture (peeling paint, broken pieces of wood etc.) that it should suit.

I have no idea why I chose a yellow background Blush Can't answer that one!!
banehawi Plus
12 1.5k 3555 Canada
11 Jul 2014 2:55PM
Hi Tracy.

Tanya is right, and to take it further, not just simple bracketing. You may need to take 5 or 6 exposures to get a good range of detail.

1. Shoot in RAW

2. Use ISO 100 only.

3. Tripod. With remote release ideally.

4. Manual focus.

5. Set aperture to be constant throughout all shots.

6. Either use your Exposure comp dial, taking a shot at each 1/3 stop; or if you use a manual setting, change your shutter speed by no more than 1/2 stop at a time and take a minimum of 5 shots; one at 0 EV and two at +, two at -.

You can either combine these manually, taking the best from each, or, as suggested, use Photoshop to import the raw images and produce an HDR image.

If you do HDR, you will need a tone mapping software like Photomatix which converts the range of tones in the 32bit original HDR file into tones an 8 bit monitor can display. This scene is ideal for HDR, but you do need a bit of practice to get the result to look right.

If you use a very wide aperture like here, you can probably get away with bracketing, but a smaller aperture of course will provide a lot more detail of the stairway.

Evey place I lived in Dublin was haunted Tracy, - man times by bill collectors and the ESB!

Loaded a mod that extracts some detail and reduces blows highlights.



regards


Willie
ladigit 2 229 1 Ireland
11 Jul 2014 3:07PM
Thank you so much Willie - I look forward to trying this out now.

I've never attempted it before and to be honest have a bit of a dislike for some HDR'd images as sometimes I think they look a bit too surreal.. but for some situations I like it a lot. It will take practice!

Your comment on haunting reminds me of something my Dad says - be more afraid of the living than the dead Wink
dudler Plus
13 468 908 England
11 Jul 2014 3:33PM
Tracy, before you have to resort to HDR, it's worth looking at what you can achieve in converting RAW Files in the Photoshop converter, and with dodging and burning.

I've done a couple of mods, using the burn and clone tools to darken tones and remove highlights - and then put the result through Nik Classic Camera 5 for some haunted colours.
banehawi Plus
12 1.5k 3555 Canada
11 Jul 2014 3:41PM
ladigit 2 229 1 Ireland
11 Jul 2014 3:44PM

Quote:Tracy, before you have to resort to HDR, it's worth looking at what you can achieve in converting RAW Files in the Photoshop converter, and with dodging and burning.

I've done a couple of mods, using the burn and clone tools to darken tones and remove highlights - and then put the result through Nik Classic Camera 5 for some haunted colours.



I really like your mods dudler - especially how you have removed the blown out window in the middle, very clever and it really makes a big difference, it was very distracting.

I'm not familiar with the Nik software at all - but after a quick Google it looks interesting. I like the haunted processing you've done - unusual and suits the tone of the image.
ladigit 2 229 1 Ireland
11 Jul 2014 3:50PM

Quote:Some examples of HDR Tracy. Many peoples experience of it is with HDR done very poorly. When its done as its intended, it works very well.

https://www.ephotozine.com/user/banehawi-20793/gallery/photo/freedom-8247966

https://www.ephotozine.com/user/banehawi-20793/gallery/photo/st-james-church-hdr-8167798

https://www.ephotozine.com/user/banehawi-20793/gallery/photo/church-organ-8152379

https://www.ephotozine.com/user/banehawi-20793/gallery/photo/capitolio-hdr-8108331

regards

Willie



These are great examples Willie thank you - this would be what I would like to achieve. I think that the castle will be a good location for trying this out too. There is a lot of potential there, from the stairway to the individual rooms and pathways in the basement towards the dungeon area. I will have to read up a lot on it before I visit so I take the right kind of shots Smile
TanyaH Plus
13 1.3k 376 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2014 4:15PM
I'm loving Dudler's second mod, the one with the ghostly feel - brilliant!

I've now got a question, following on from what you said above Willie, about the HDR stuff ... is Photomatrix a requisite bit of software for this, or can the same result be achieved in Photoshop, using the 'Merge to HDR' function?

Or does the tone mapping thingy in Photomatrix (and the conversion of the 32bit to 8bit file for monitor display) ONLY be done (properly) in something like Photomatrix?

I've just looked at the software and, although the cost of the Pro version isn't too bad overall, is it worth it for just the occasional use?

Sorry to hijack the critique slightly, but I was wondering ... Smile
mrswoolybill Plus
10 990 1514 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2014 5:37PM
I cannot add anything to the excellent technical advice that you have received. But I would pick up on two important points.

From Tanya:

Quote:HDR 'proper' may kill the atmosphere you're trying to create


From John:

Quote:it's worth looking at what you can achieve in converting RAW Files


HDR can produce effective results in difficult lighting conditions, but my problem with it is that it pries into dark corners, peers into shadows. I actually like the mystery of shadows and dark corners. That's what Tanya means when she talks about killing atmosphere.

But it is good to be able to lift detail from both under- and overexposed areas, and this is where Raw files pay dividends, because they record all available data without editing any of it out as a jpeg does. So it's there for you to retrieve, to the extent that you see fit.

If you are not shooting Raw, I would suggest that it's the next logical move for you. (It's not an acronym by the way, it's the actual word - what you get is the raw file - all the ingredients ready for mixing and cooking).

Moira
ladigit 2 229 1 Ireland
11 Jul 2014 5:48PM
Thanks Moira - I'm shooting RAW alright, it does help alright with pulling back on any over-exposed areas etc. and also for white balance.

I will be spending a full day at the castle, so I think I'll try it both ways just to see how I get on. It will be a first so no harm in giving it a go. I will post up some a shot afterwards Smile
ladigit 2 229 1 Ireland
11 Jul 2014 5:49PM
Oh and @Moira - I love your dark side mod!!
banehawi Plus
12 1.5k 3555 Canada
11 Jul 2014 7:22PM
I see theres scope for creativity here now!

I did find that ghostWink

W
paulbroad 9 117 1075 United Kingdom
11 Jul 2014 7:36PM
The burn out on the handrail defeats this one. I'm not sure you are critically sharp either at that speed. You must use a tripod for such shutter speeds and this is just what HDR is meant for. You need that extended tonal range.

Paul
ladigit 2 229 1 Ireland
14 Jul 2014 11:24AM

Quote:The burn out on the handrail defeats this one. I'm not sure you are critically sharp either at that speed. You must use a tripod for such shutter speeds and this is just what HDR is meant for. You need that extended tonal range.

Paul



Hi Paul,

I was using a tripod for this shot. I will give it another try when I revisit the location and will also try my hand at HDR.

I am interested also in TanyaH's questions regarding Photomatix or Photoshop for HDR - as someone who has never used any software for this purpose, I'm just wondering what is recommended keeping cost in mind.


Quote:
I'm loving Dudler's second mod, the one with the ghostly feel - brilliant!

I've now got a question, following on from what you said above Willie, about the HDR stuff ... is Photomatrix a requisite bit of software for this, or can the same result be achieved in Photoshop, using the 'Merge to HDR' function?

Or does the tone mapping thingy in Photomatrix (and the conversion of the 32bit to 8bit file for monitor display) ONLY be done (properly) in something like Photomatrix?

I've just looked at the software and, although the cost of the Pro version isn't too bad overall, is it worth it for just the occasional use?

Sorry to hijack the critique slightly, but I was wondering ... Smile

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