Folly Beach

Chuck's MugThe process of HDR is a beautiful tool when used correctly.  With that being said, we want to show you some amazing examples of photography talents doing great things with this technique for more doses of inspiration.

To learn more about HDR, check out our HDR Learning Center.

Introducing the beautiful HDR work of Baltimore photographer, Chuck Robinson.

Chuck is a very gifted photographer whose interest varies from grungy abandoned buildings to beautiful rolling landscapes and from colorful HDR images to moody black and whites.  But it is his love of landscapes and nature photography that he most desires.

There was never a defining moment when Chuck decided that he wanted to be a photographer. He never considered himself to be an artistic person, but there had always been an underlying desire to create. From a young age, he remembers admiring photography and art but didn’t take this interest any further until later in life. As a young boy, he traveled frequently with his family throughout the United States, and it was on those cross country trips that he first began taking pictures with his point and shoot camera to document the places he had visited. That is where he first developed an appreciation of the beauty of landscape photography.

After a college art class and then buying his first DSLR camera, he threw himself into photography almost to the point of obsession.  Being self-taught, he soaked in everything he could about photography mostly by reading books, watching webinars, studying the works of others and going out to shoot as much as he could.  He had finally found the creative outlet that he so desired.

“HDR photography was one of the first skills I learned as a photographer.  It was relatively new when I was getting into photography.  What attracted me to it was the ability to pull out textures, colors and tones that you don’t normally see in a typical photograph.  You have so many options with HDR and it’s really up to you how you want to present your vision from grungy, over-the-top to the more realistic and natural.  I think that there is no right or wrong way to process an HDR image, but more about what your vision is and what you want to convey to your audience.  HDR photography allows me to capture much more detail and tonality than I could capture in a single image.  With my urban city scenes and abandoned places, I try to pull out more of the textures and grungy feel.  With my landscapes and nature images, I tend to process them for a more natural and realistic feel.  It all depends on how a certain location makes me feel when I am there and I try to convey that in the processing of my image.”

“Being out with my camera and making images is only part of the process.  For my HDR work, I make sure that I take as many bracketed exposures as needed to capture all of the highlights and shadows by checking the histogram. When I browse through my bracketed series of images and see that the histogram no longer touches the left and right sides, I know that I have captured all of the highlights and shadows.  Depending on the scene, this could mean taking a series of images anywhere from 3 to 7 or more exposures.”

“The other part of the process is when I sit in front of my computer to process those images.  For me, this is where the creative juices really get flowing!  After importing all of my images into Adobe Lightroom 5, I’ll export my series of bracketed exposures into Photomatix Pro.  I don’t have any defined recipes or presets.  I simply just start to play with the sliders until I get close to something that matches the vision that I have in my mind.  From there, I save the image back into Lightroom for some fine tuning.  I’ll adjust the highlight and shadow sliders making sure that nothing is too bright or too dark.  Maybe even adjust the exposure slider for overall brightness of the image.  Next, it’s off to Adobe Photoshop CC where I’ll use NIK’s Pro Contrast filter to add contrast to the image for a little “pop”.  Through the HDR processing, sometimes the skies don’t look natural or maybe a water feature has some ghosting going on.  In this situation, I’ll mask in those areas from one of the original bracketed exposures that I feel are too unrealistic or don’t match what my vision is.  Also in Photoshop I’ll do my cloning to clean up any unwanted artifacts in the image and leave sharpening as my last step.”

“HDR is just a tool to help you develop a scene into something that you want to portray to your audience.  Using Photomatix Pro or any other HDR software, play with the sliders.  See what works and what doesn’t.  Make mistakes.  Process the image for what you like.  Shoot what you love and above all else, have fun!”

Chuck’s Tools:

“I don’t necessarily need to have the best camera gear but it is necessary to know my gear best.  Knowing what all the buttons and settings on my camera are for before I go out shooting allows me to free my mind from my camera.  This way, I can concentrate on what’s in front of the camera and not waste time fumbling around trying to figure the camera out.  Sometimes seconds count before that tasty light has faded away.”

Nikon D300 & D700
Nikon 16-35mm
Nikon 70-200mm vr2
Nikon 28-300mm

Adobe Lightroom 5
Adobe Photoshop CC
Photomatix Pro
NIK Collection

To see more of Chuck’s amazing HDR work go to www.chuckrobinsonphoto.com or follow him on Flickr.

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Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. Nice post. I always considered HDR a way of capturing what the eye can see. A way of covering the whole dynamic range. Chuck’s pictures are excellent!

    Reply
  2. All great photos, but that image in Acadia is outstanding! Really nice photo blog, so glad I found it! :-)

    Reply
  3. Mesmerizing photography!

    Reply

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About MelissaNiu

Melissa Niu is a storyteller at heart. Niu's work ranges from her Broadcast Journalism experience at NBC in Seattle to her recent work as a co-founder and host of the photography platform, [FRAMED] Network. Her passion for photography, music and journalistic skills harvests into a massive need to tell a good story. As a mother of three daughters and running multiple businesses, Niu is constantly seeking balance, health, laughter and progression.

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Fine Art, HDR, Landscape, Panoramic, Photography, Shooting, Your Focus

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