I used to have a quiet chuckle to myself when I saw someone hiking with a tripod lashed to their backpack.
Well, turns out there still IS a place for that archaic camera support… the HDR (and maybe Panoramas… next post…)
It took me nearly an hour of cropping, rotating, tweaking, and otherwise fiddling to get three exposures to line up to produce this small sample shot, using an older version of Photomatix (2.3.2):
Pentax K20D, ISO 200, f/8, 50mm, 3 images @ 1/90, 1/180 and 1/350 combined.
Not bad; I was using really low resolution jpegs just to get a feel for the process, so it’s not as sharp as it could be. But all the tweaking to get the images to line up really bugged me, so I checked for a newer version of Photomatix.
Turns out the new version is really pretty good, and even has an alignment mode that works on matching common features. I chose another image set to see how long it would take, and how well it would align:
Pentax K20D, ISO 200, f/22 (I know… I know…), 16mm (smc Pentax 16-45 F4 ED AL), @ 1/30, 1/15 and 1/8 sec
This image took the new version of Photomatix seconds to process. I spent a few minutes fiddling with various slider controls that adjust the various tone mapping parameters, but Holy Cow, the alignment is perfect. I did spend a minute in the GIMP to clean up a couple of dust spots in the sky, but from start to finish the results are as good as you could hope for, even with a tripod.
And one more little plug for Pentax Shake Reduction… look at the exposure info again… the brightest shot was at 1/8 second, resting on the top of a trekking pole. Nice. I should have opened it up to f/11; I thought it was f/16 but I think my thumb slipped when I was balancing the camera on the top of the handgrip of the pole and it got cranked up a notch.
Perhaps if the only goal of the hike was to make perfect images – then I’d take the tripod, but for casual use like this… Photomatix is the way to go.