Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ghetto HDR-Photography

Why am I calling this "ghetto"? Well, simply said, this is as cheap and as low profile as you can get... still automated, without any scripts.

Let me first show you my gear:

Canon IXUS 140 on a JOBY GorillaPod

Concerning the original GorillaPod, I figure that this camera, the Canon IXUS 140, is somewhat the limit that this tripod can handle easily. However, there are stronger version available.

The camera is actually not just like it came from the maker, it has the CHDK installed.
One can take advantage of the CHDK in many way, scripts and all... cool stuff! One can, however, also go for the very simple and obvious. That's was this post is all about.

Framing a shot, as you imagine it from the ground, put the setup on the ground, press the shutter button and wait... that's what this post is all about.

To achieve this, the camera and CHDK need to be set into certain modes.

Lets start with CHDK. Set your camera to shoot in RAW or DNG first. Further, in "Advanced Photo Operations", select the menu "Bracketing in Continuous Mode". Here, you want to go for "Tv Bracketing", lets say 2 Ev. Another very important setup in this menu is the "Disable Brackting on Startup"... which in my taste needs to be de-selected (more about this later).

Now to the camera. Put it into record mode by half-pressing the shutter release. Now what you want to do is press the "Func.Set"-button and go into the "self timer"-menu. Select "Custom Timer". You will be able to enter a timer delay and a number of shots to be taken. For a regular HDR, i.e. 3 shots -/0/+ 2 Ev, select "3". As to the timer delay, 2 secs will be OK, select more, if you want to be sure that your GorillaPod settles down before the shutter opens.

To shoot, just press the shutter release button. Some blinking action will go on in front of the camera. When the shots according to your settings are taken, the display will light up and display an image.

Of course you can change the parameters to shoot more than 3 frames in different Ev-steps. CHDK and Canon's custom timer leaves you a huge playground!

In the example, I have taken matters to the extreme. The IXUS 140 was set to shoot 7 frames, in 1Ev increments, held by the GorillaPod on the handrail of the little bridge I was standing on.
7 frames HDR, 1Ev increments, DNG
This is the original middle image of the HDR image above.
Regular exposure, DNG
Note the cropping / lens corrections done by the HDR processing. The very right tree on the "regularly" exposed frame has been taken out completely.

3 frames HDR, Canon IXUS 140 (CHDK) on the original GorillaPod
The above shots are probably not the best photos ever created. The purpose of the exercise was to show, who cheap you can go with your gear, still being able to achieve decent quality HDR photos.

BTW: If you own a GorillaPod, which ever model, you have some fun out there!

Summary: I used a Canon IXUS 140 w/ CHDK to shoot in DNG (Digital Negative) on a GorillaPod using the built-in timer. I doubt that there is any way to shoot decent HDR-photos any cheaper than that! Feel free to prove me wrong!

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