Cloudy London

Far back in the mists of ancient time, a whole week before the start of the 2012 London Olympics, my wife and I took a trip into London to see an all-night Dark Knight trilogy screening. We had a bit of time to kill before the midnight screening, so I ended up taking quite a few photographs. I’ve already posted most of them, in London at Night (Part IV) and In the Skatepark at Midnight. Earlier in the day, however, we wandered across Waterloo Bridge. It was a cloudy day, so I decided to experiment with HDR images to bring out the clouds and the sky.

f/3.5, ISO 500, 18mm (HDR)
f/3.5, ISO 500, 18mm (HDR)

Before we got there, however, we came across a weird steampunk show on the South Bank outside the National Theatre. It made for some interesting shots.

1/160sec, f/4.5, ISO 500, 33mm
1/160sec, f/4.5, ISO 500, 33mm
8sec, f/4.5, ISO 500, exposure bias -0.33, 32mm
8sec, f/4.5, ISO 500, exposure bias -0.33, 32mm
1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 500, exposure bias -0.33, 135mm
1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 500, exposure bias -0.33, 135mm

After a quick stroll around the market, we headed up over Waterloo Bridge. From here it gave me a bird’s eye view of the bookstalls that can be seen on the South Bank.

1/200sec, f/3.5, ISO 400, 19mm
1/200sec, f/3.5, ISO 400, 19mm

After that, we were on the Bridge. This was back in last July, when I was in the early stages of experimenting with HDR imagery. I had just discovered HDR Efex Pro, and wanted to experiment with how well it could handle what I threw at it.

f/5.6, ISO 500, 106mm (HDR)
f/5.6, ISO 500, 106mm (HDR)

With that in mind, I took a few bracketed exposures that included moving things to see how the processing software could cope with it. I had the camera in auto-bracket mode, meaning that the first time you fire the shutter, it shoots a normal exposure, and the next two are over- and under-exposed respectively (or vice-versa,but you get the idea).

At first glance, it seems to have worked, but then take a look at the slightly mutated people in the foreground.

f/3.5, ISO 100, 18mm (HDR)
f/3.5, ISO 100, 18mm (HDR)

You know when couples become so inseparable you can no longer differentiate them? This is what that looks like.

For bigger objects such as buses, it seemed to work better, although it didn’t do all that well at dealing with the colour red.

f/3.5, ISO 500, 18mm (HDR)
f/3.5, ISO 100, 18mm (HDR)

For reasons that I’m not sure of, a lot of these images are lacking in sharpness. My suggestion is that I was shooting handheld, but the HDR plugin should be countering that to an extent. I have a whole pile of HDR images to process so hopefully I’ll figure out where I’m going wrong.

This next image, however, looks a tad sharper than the others, because why not, apparently.

f/3.5, ISO 100, 18mm (HDR)
f/3.5, ISO 100, 18mm (HDR)

The HDR processing has done a pretty good job of bringing out the clouds, but ultimately these aren’t my best HDR images. Due to these sitting, processed, on my hard drive for many months (postponed, initially, by the Olympics, and then who knows what), they are annoyingly appearing out of context on my HDR learning curve. My last post, Winter Wonderland, contains my most recent HDR image, and it seems to have come out a lot better than many of these.

The last shot from this set, of the Embankment road taken from Waterloo Bridge, is actually a pretty basic shot, but for some reason I find I like it.

1/100 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320, 106mm
1/100 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320, 106mm

I can’t really explain why. It’s one of the many images that I find myself liking for completely intangible reasons that I know few others will actually like. But I’m okay with that.

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