How I did it/What software I used

Niveen makes here way to her Shaadi at the Lyman Estate in Waltham.

Niveen makes here way to her Shaadi at the Lyman Estate in Waltham.

A lot has been written and discussed lately about HDR photography, especially in wedding photography.  As a photojournalist I have been scolded (that’s putting it mildly) by colleagues in the wedding biz for employing these techniques in connection to something as statedly pure as photojournalism–but c’mon folks, seriously, these are hardly matters of life and death. Let’s just enjoy.

That said I must state that most of my so-called HDR images are actually faux-HDR since I mainly use only one RAW photograph to create them and that is where I started with the above image of Niveen during her wedding last month.  From the get go I use a combination of Lightroom and Photo Mechanic for my workflow. First ingested through Photo Mechanic where a first rough edit is done (PM is made for speed and efficiency–other programs like Lightroom or Aperture simply can’t compete). After the first edit I import that raw edit to LR where the real work begins. For 90% of my images LR is all I ever use–the other 10% is a combo of PS4 and other programs like Photomatix Pro, Topaz Adjust and NIK software as well as a plethora of PS actions.

The image was selectively over saturated in LR using the TAT (target adjustment tool) in the H/S/L part of the Develop module. From there I opened it in Topaz and adjusted using manual controls but something similar to the preset of “vibrance” or “crisp”.  This usually produces a good deal of digital noise especially with high ISO indoor shots in low light. I ran a noise reduction filter on the image and then opened it in NIKs Color Effects Pro choosing “polaroid transfer” from the style presets–again some manual adjustments since every image has its own voice.

I’ll attach a sharpening filter, usually HIGH PASS in PS, and always on a separate layer so I can selectively sharpen the areas that call for it.  Like a painter knows when his piece is finished you just know when the image is done.  It is quite easy to go too far, too fast, and do too much with this stuff so I try to limit this part of my workflow to the images that really ask to be finessed with these techniques.

I’m always learning which for me is what keeps things fresh and exciting.  The students I mentor and teach at the New England School of Photography are a constant source of  inspiration and I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize their contribution to my work.

Some great HDR tutorials are available on-line. Here are my favorites: Vanilla Days and Trey Ratcliff’s incredible site, Stuck in Customs.  Trey’s stuff is simply exquisit!

I also have some video shot with the Canon 5D during this wedding that I will post soon but just some quick things on my ever growing passion to incorporate the moving image into work. We (my students and I) found some great and relatively inexpensive add-ons for this camera from SIMA. We like their <$20 LED light, their ~$10 side bracket for mounting things like lights and mics. And speaking of mics the RØDE VideoMic is hands down the best mic for the buck we’ve found.  Mounted to the side bracket you can still shoot photographs and the bracket allows a greater deal of stability. Look for a post soon,

-GC