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HDR Photography with Eric B. Wood

By | Artist Profile, Gorillapod, How To, Philosophy, Photography | 2 Comments

A few weeks ago, we asked New York-based photographer Eric Wood to share some of his tips and tricks for HDR photography. We were curious about HDR and he was stoked to share with us. Instead of a simple list of tips and tricks, he came back to us with this awesome discussion about his HDR philosophy, his gear, how he post-processes and how he prints. Get ready to delve into the controversial world of HDR photography with Eric!  

As I’m sitting here trying to decide how to begin this post I am thinking of all the wonderful tutorials, amazing websites and awesome photographers devoted to HDR. There are lots of them…and most of them are very, very good. In fact, I learned (and still learn) about HDR from these very same resources. I’d like to think I came from the school of hard-knocks when it came to HDR but the truth is a simple Google search landed me a wealth of information from which my own passion for it grew. The base of learning this technique is already out there so rather than simply regurgitating information that already exists, I’d like to take a new approach and address a few things that aren’t out there yet. My hope is that I can shine some new light and make your life a little easier as you comb through this awesome, yet controversial technique.

Location: Cambridge, New York
Gear: Nikon D90 | Sigma 10-20
Shot: 3 Exposures (-2, 0, +2)
Tripod: GorillaPod SLR Zoom with Ballhead

Awesome HDR Tutorials
Stuck in Customs HDR Tutorial
Cambridge in Color High Dynamic Range Tutorial
Farbspiel Photography

Develop your Philosophy
So, here’s the issue with HDR. Some people love it and some people hate it. Some people think it is the future while some people think it should die where is stands. Some people think it is photography while others argue it is no such thing. Everyone has an opinion. Understanding these issues and knowing what your answers are goes a long way toward developing your HDR belief system. Notice I said “knowing what your answers are” and not “what the accepted answers are”. To use the old cliche, there is no right answer.

Since we are talking about philosophy,  I suppose this is a great segway to introduce you to my HDR beliefs. When I hear people talking smack on HDR or I read a heated blog post where HDR is referred to as a virus, I can’t help but chuckle to myself. But I also understand their point of view. For hundreds of years people have been capturing scenes with cameras and portraying it as reality, then along comes HDR. When someone views an HDR image with their photography goggles on, that person is compelled to conclude that the image is not a photograph. It doesn’t capture a scene or a moment in time and so it doesn’t have a place in the photography community. And you know what? I agree!

What? Did I actually say that? Yes, I believe that HDR and it’s process is not photography, and should not be passed off as photography. To me, HDR is imagery. The fact that the same tool—a camera—is used to create the foundation of the process isn’t the most relevant point.

When I go out shooting, I don’t strive to create a photograph, I strive to create an image—a scene that represents the way I choose to remember it, not necessarily the way I saw it. I want to feel free and not constrained by the shackles of traditional photography dictate as correct or proper technique. Basically, I want my imagination to be free to create what it was intended to create—an image.

Camera Setup
I’ve always been a stubborn guy when it comes to camera setup. I prefer to run a minimal operation when I’m out shooting; I don’t want to lug 50 pounds of gear around all day. So here’s what I do. First, I develop a concept of what I want to shoot. For example, a couple months ago I had the idea to shoot a retro railroad passenger car from the inside. I wanted to create a dramatic, almost ghostly image. Having a clear vision in my head allowed me to develop the right setup before I left. Railroad cars are fairly narrow and I knew I wanted to capture the interior seating in a very bold and symmetrical way. The only lens that was going to give me the results I envisioned was my 10-20mm. I bolted it on my body (a Nikon D90) and considered it done. I also knew I wanted to shoot brackets (-2, 0, +2) to cover the dynamic range of the image. No problem. Most all cameras have the option to turn on exposure bracketing. I always want the option of having all the luscious details in both the highlights and shadows (even if I don’t use them).  To make your life easier when bracketing, don’t forget your tripod and remote shutter release. Finally, I slip a lens cloth and an extra memory card in my pocket and I am ready to go. I usually shoot with a battery grip and have 2 batteries in camera. If you are gripless, toss an extra battery in your pocket or bag.

Location: Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway, Alna, Maine
Gear: Nikon D90 | Sigma 10-20
Shot: 3 Exposures (-2, 0, +2)
Tripod: GorillaPod SLR Zoom with Ballhead

That’s it. A setup that has everything I need and nothing I don’t.  I would prefer to have a refined, reliable setup than lug around gear that inevitably will not be used. If I had instead envisioned shooting the water flowing through a nearby stream, I may have opted for my 50mm lens with a neutral density filter. But again, that’s it. No extra lenses, no bags of cords, flashes, batteries, or other apparatus. Just an idea and the essential tools to execute it. I know what you are thinking. What if you came across a situation that required a lens you left in your bag at home? I don’t let it stop me. It is the perfect opportunity to hone your creativity and execute a unique image that others would might pass because they didn’t have the “correct” tools.

Wait, this is the JOBY blog, right? Yep, I love my Gorillapod and I truly feel it is an invaluable part of HDR imagery and photography. I know there are HDR professionals out there that can get reliable results handholding the camera through the brackets, but that’s not me. I really prefer to have a tripod for stabilization. Here is the problem though: tripods are not allowed in so many areas. Rather than fight with a security guard, I just get creative with my Gorillapod. I do one of two things:

1. Attach the GorillaPod to my camera and wrap the legs up the side of the camera so it resembles a flash handle. You are no longer carrying a tripod but a trendy handle accessory for your great camera. This is even easier if you run a smaller, compact setup.

2. Sling the camera around you neck like any other tourist and slip the GorillaPod in your back pocket with your shirt untucked. That’ll cover it nicely. Careful though! In this day and age, the odds of you passing through a metal detector in an area that forbids tripods is actually pretty high, and that super-durable Ballhead or Ballhead X is made of metal. That is going to bring attention to this mystery item that resembles a tripod. Just try to get through security at the Empire State Building and you’ll know what I mean.

Both of these approaches have worked well for me in the past, so choose one and get some camera stabilization going for those killer photos! It definitely makes a difference.

A Quick Example

Location: Cinderella’s Castle, Disney World
Gear: Nikon D90 | Sigma 10-20
Shot: 3 Exposures (-2, 0, +2)
Tripod: GorillaPod SLR Zoom with Ballhead

Here’s the deal with this example. I was wandering around Cinderella’s Castle all the while knowing I wanted to capture an image that was different than what I’d seen in the past. Images of the castle are commonly taken from the front of the castle or the side over the small pond. But I wanted something different. I wanted to capture the imagination of the castle; the hustle, the environment, but most of all, the legacy. Yes, the legacy. Seriously, this place is iconic. How could I be there, with all my gear (again, lens, camera, Gorillapod)  and shoot the place the same way millions of others have? I couldn’t. I dropped my GorillaPod on a bench, composed the shot and fired off 3 photos in 2 stop increments. A side note though, I didn’t have a problem in Disney World with my full-size tripod; they just suck to carry around all day.

Post-Processing
Now the fun begins! The first thing I did was pull the photos into Lightroom 3 and organize the 3 exposures. Next I export the 3 exposures to Photomatix 4.1 to generate the HDR image. Once some minor adjustments are made in Photomatix, the image is imported back to lightroom and developed. There is no standard set of processes for the development; it is whatever the specific image calls for. Typically, I adjust the Luminosity, Gamma and White & Black Points. Strength is almost always set to 100 and the Lighting Adjustment is usually on Natural+. Again, there are lots of amazing tutorials out there on Photomatix and HDR so don’t hesitate to check them out.

Next I sent the image to Photoshop CS5 for the final adjustments. Typically some curves, saturation and levels adjustments are in order, but by making use of layers and masks I localized the adjustments to specific areas of the photos. Masking is really an invaluable part of HDR processing as it allows you to focus your adjustments on specific areas of the image. Next, I added some detail to the photo by using Topaz Adjust plugin and finally I blended an awesome vintage texture over the final image. There you have it. A unique HDR image of that captures the imagination and spirit of the scene.


Post-Processing Resources
Farbspiel Photography HDR Cookbook
Before the Coffee PhotoMatix Tutorial

Textures
I love blending textures with HDR images. Again, this goes back to my willingness to understand that HDR is not photography but rather imagery. An awesome texture is exactly the touch that takes an image from ordinary to extraordinary.

Location: Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Maine
Gear: Nikon D90 | Sigma 10-20
Shot: 3 Exposures (-2, 0, +2)
Tripod: Tripod with Joby SLR-Zoom Ballhead

When I first arrived at this spot I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to capture. I knew the coastline here was treacherous. There are crazy rock-faces leading to the water, the waves are constantly crashing with amazing force and the area is covered with signs warning people to enjoy at their own risk. The scene was great. The sun had just come up and there was a great glow bouncing off the lighthouse itself. All I could think was how amazing it is that the lighthouse has withstood nearly 200 years of coastal rains, wind, rain and snow.  When I saw the final HDR image, I knew something was missing. The image was remarkably peaceful, but I really wanted to capture an image that was reminiscent of the tattered and torn coastline itself.

I jumped on Creative Commons and did a quick search for “grunge textures” and was excited to find one that would really make the image pop. I pulled the texture into Photoshop and simply dragged and dropped it over my original HDR. This process puts the texture on its own layer just above the HDR image. Pretty simple, right?

Now here is where the blending happens. All you have to do is make sure your texture layer is active and change the blend mode from “normal” to whichever mode gives you the effect you are looking for. In this example, “overlay” was perfect because this mode preserves the highlights and shadows the original image. You may find the texture too strong. In which case, reduce the opacity of the texture layer. One important consideration is that you don’t want the texture to detract from a significant focal point of the image. Here in this example you can see there are a few very distracting texture nuggets on the fence and lighthouse which I could have easily removed by healing the texture. Keep that in mind and you won’t make the same mistake I did. But on the flip-side, I was able to capture the scene in all its glory—rough & rugged, yet amazingly beautiful.

Texture Resources
Flickr Textures4Layers
Flicker Creative Commons Textures

Printing
It is amazing to me how the output of photography and imagery has changed over the last couple of decades. At one time, the only real output was photographic prints. You’d shoot a great shot, have it printed and enjoy it for years as it hung on your wall framed in all its glory. Over the past decade or so, the shift to a purely digital output has begun. No longer do we envision a final product to be one that hangs boldly on the wall but instead it is one that is displayed proudly across your website and social media outlets.

But don’t fret, printing is not dead. In fact, the ability to hold something tangible after a long day of shooting and a long night of post-processing is an amazing reward. Luckily, HDR images are remarkably print-worthy. In similar fashion to the rest of this post, I’ll save you the basic “get it printed professionally” speech and just jump right to a couple of print products that represent HDR very well.

1. Metallic prints. These are simply amazing! Metallic papers are typically available at any professional print shop and give your prints a “super-gloss” look. Technically, this paper has a pearlescent finish that renders amazing depth and bold color. And the best part, the cost is only slightly higher that standard prints

2. Metal prints. Whereas metallic prints are printed on a paper, metal prints are printed directly on a sheet of aluminum. In very much the same manner a car or a motorcycle is painted, a base-coat of white is applied to the aluminum sheet prior to your image being fused onto the metal. The result is a stunningly vivid piece with rich colors and bold detail that will beat even your LCD display.

The Future of HDR
I am a firm believer that HDR imagery is here to stay. After all, combining multiple exposures to create a scene has been around almost as long as camera technology itself.  Photography has evolved in the digital age, and HDR is just an expression of those expanded capabilities. When the open-mindedness of creative people combines with an increase in hardware and software options, more people experiment and change the way we see the world.

Have a  specific question for Eric?  Want to share your thoughts on HDR? Let us know in the comments! 

 

GorillaPod Love

By | Gorillapod, Photography | One Comment

Now, this is something that we just can’t say enough—you photographers out there using our GorillaPods, you are an incredibly talented bunch! We’re constantly impressed by the images you capture and your passion for photography. Plus, we love getting glimpses of places near and far all over the world while we sit behind our computer screens here at JOBY HQ. Here are a few recent images from the GorillaPod Love Flickr Group. This post will undoubtably make you want to travel—personally, I’m thinking Thailand.

DSC00369

 

嘉樂庇總督大橋,澳門

 

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67|365   fence trails.

 

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Small World / Big Lights

 

Toledo IMG_0295_6_7

 

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St Pauls Contrast

 

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Yokohama Landmark Tower 横浜ランドマークタワー

 

Vue sur le Vully

Have some fabulous GorillaPod-aided photos in your arsenal? Add them to the group on Flickr. Or if you’re not the Flickr type, share them with us on Facebook.

 

Sharing Your iPhoneography

By | Gorillamobile, How To, iPhone, Photography | One Comment

Now that you’ve taken all of these amazing photos with your iPhone, you’re going to need a way to share them with the world. We’ve compiled a short list of some of our favorite ways to share photos in the digital world and in the real world too!

In the digital world … 

Instagram: Like we’ve mentioned before, Instagram is an great way to share your photography and little snippets of your life with your family and friends. Plus, with the incredible community of photographers using the app, you’ll most likely make some new friends along the way.

Instagrid:  A nice online photo library of all your instagram photos that you can share with friends and family that don’t have an iPhone, plus you can check out the boards of other Instagrammers too.

Amazing iPhoneography and other Flickr photo groups dedicated to iPhone photography are also a great place to share your work and get inspired by others.

iPhonegraphy.com is great source for the freshest news in iPhone photography and also posts a weekly round up of iPhone Photos taken by their Flickr group Through the Lens of an iPhone. Share your photos for a chance to be featured or simply visit to get inspired.

And last but most certainly not least … US! Share you iPhoneography with JOBY on Facebook or on our website in the In the Wild section. We love seeing what our friends are up to!

Here are a few great ways to share your iPhoneography in the real world as well!

Postalpix: With Postalpix your favorite iPhone photos are delivered right to your door! They have a variety of sizes available, and you can even get your photo printed on an aluminum plate or a mousepad. Fancy!

 

Printstagram: Turn your Instagram photos into posters, stickers or a book. Keep them for yourself or share with friends. And all are between $10 – $25.

Postagram: Turn your photos into custom postcards to send to friends and family for just $0.99. Not a bad deal considering a stamp alone is $0.45.

Casetagram: For $34.95 you can create a custom iPhone case featuring all of your favorite photos. They have several layouts to choose from and an intuitive interface. It’s a lot of fun and you end up with a great personalized case!

 

 

Now get sharing! And maybe send your mom a postcard while you’re at it.

Friday Finds: Biking, Heavy Lifting and a Great Endorsement

By | Friday Find, Gorillapod, Gorillatorch, Photography, Press | One Comment

Hello Creactives,

Some fun video and photography this weeks in Friday finds. Plus, an awesome write-up in the Chicago Tribune. I mean, who doesn’t want a little bit of “portable sunshine” with the Gorillatorch Flare?

Bike Riding Through La Defense

I love the carefree feeling of this take on a biking with a Gorillapod heading through the outskirts of Paris.

Gorillapod as Cover Girl

The Gorillapod in the background looks like it is about to slink into something a little more comfortable.

224/365 - A Little Fuzzy on the Details

A New Take on the Holiday Roadtrip

John vs. the Minivan exhibits amazing feats of strength. I particularly like the need for somebody to survey the situation from below – or just take a minivan on the head.

John vs. The Minibus

What’s inside your bag?

Summing up the end of a 365/ 365 (365 photos in 365 days)  flickr photographer Aaron Miller shows off his stuff. Here’s what he had to say about his stash:

My workhorse camera was the Canon 50D and I’d highly recommend it to anyone thinking about getting one. Definitely did the job for me. But the camera that I think made the difference for me was the Canon S90, which I have mounted on a little Joby tripod to the right. I carried that thing with me EVERYWHERE (along with that little tripod) and it just does a great job of taking fully manual little pics. I can’t say enough about it.

So, what’s on this table?

Canon 50D
Canon S90
10-22 mm Canon Wide Angle lens
50 mm f1.8
100 mm Canon macro f2.8 L with IS
24-70 mm Canon f2.8 L
18-200 mm Canon zoom
430 EX flash
Yanguno flash
Yanguno wireless flash kit and wired trigger
Canon flash cord
Tamrac Expedition 3 camera bag
Joby gorillapod SLR zoom
Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 tripod with 322RC2 head
Flash stand with umbrella
Macbook Pro 15″ with Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS4, plus Photomatix for HDR processing

Friday Finds: Parkour, Flickr Favorites and Press

By | Friday Find, Gorillacam, Gorillapod, Gorillatorch, Photography, Press | One Comment

Hello Creactives!

Friday is here, and the sun has finally appeared. We are literally wearing wool and suede here, in the not-so-summery San Francisco August.

Parkour!

While this theoretically could get a little repetitive there is something so ninja-cool about this video of swinging through windows. Captured with a Gorillapod Magnetic, it comes complete with post-activity grunts.

Flickr Fun

MI6 building under surveillance by Gorillapod SLR and an Olympus.

Given that downloads are disabled for these Gorillacam photos, I decided it best not to post on the blog. So, you’ll just have to see this priceless expression the old fashion way.

A Dabbling of Press

Scary that Autoblog seems to think that we are already in the “end-of-summer.” This guide helps prepare you for the ultimate summer road trip. Of course, hands-free, emergency-ready, Gorillatorch Flare is a must.

And why we are a little worried that it may go to its head, the Gorillatorch Flare was given the close to perfect rating of 9.5 our 10 on the I4U website.

Friday Finds: Cardiac Arrests, Hacks and Horsies

By | Friday Find, Gorillamobile, Photography, Press | One Comment

Happy Friday Creactives!

Hanging From the Rafters

Making a defibrillator seem like a pleasant evening activity, this fun all-limbs in perspective of the drum cover of the Madness single ‘Cardiac Arrest’ is clearly enhanced by the Gorillapod mounted from the rafters.

Oh, The Things You Can Do With a Gorillapod

We love seeing innovative uses and not-as-intended uses of our products. The latest appeared on the Wired Gadget Lab Blog as a response to the search for the perfect iPad stand.  Love the action packed, alcohol infused description of what happened next.

I rushed to grab my trusty Joby Gorilla Mobile, pausing only to set down a bottle of cold German beer. Blinking as I moved out of the bright sun and into the cool dark interior of Gadget Lab’s Berlin outpost, I bent the jointed tripod into shape …


Ultimately, the adventure-seeking writer was able to come up with a trusty stand ready for his iPad consuming pleasure.
P.S. While we are on the subject of  iPad’s- Noah wants to make sure the world knows that the best stylus for your iPad is string cheese. Yes, we have a string cheese obsession at Joby.
Flickr Pool Photo of the Week

Just to introduce some other animal species to the mix. This week’s Flickr photo entitled Pony’s is by SigurDD.

Friday Finds: Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Massive Gorillapods and Lovely Images

By | Friday Find, Gorillapod, Photography | 2 Comments

Hello Creactives!

It’s Friday and time to take a little trip down memory lane.

Baseball Frenzy

Last week, Joby SF celebrated the arrival of summer (or at least as much of summer as we get in San Francisco) with a trip out to the Giants game. Much fun was had by all…and the “Brown Cows” aka root beer floats were clearly a success.

The View from the Seats

The Bay Bridge and Proof of a Cloudless Sky

Most of the Joby Marketing and Design Team

Post Game Drinks - Beer or Brown Cow?

That’s One Big Gorillapod

Thanks to Maxwell or distributor in Australia for sending in this massive Gorillapod!

Gorillapod and Gorillacam Photos from Flickr

by Pie4Dan

by Never Original

Photo taken with Gorillapod

by Chengkiang

Friday Finds: Joby Decorates, Gorillapod Magnetic, Gorillacam Gets High Marks – Again & Flickr Favorites

By | Friday Find, Gorillacam, Gorillapod, Office, Uncategorized | No Comments

Hello Creactives!

How Many Joby Employees Does it Take to Move  a Bookcase?

Here at Joby we continue to move into our new space. Last week, we took on what seemed to be an easy task of moving a bookcase…apparently that was a little deceptive.

Gorillapod Magnetic Does the Rounds

Gorillapod magnetic flitted its way across the internet this week…ooh magnets! Of particular interest:

Engadget test drives the Gorillapod Magnetic on a golf club and discovers that hanging cameras in all directions is fun.

Gorillacam Soars to 1.5MM Downloads and Gets Top Reviews

As reported earlier this week Gorillacam, built by Apptight, Joby’s iPhone camera application reached a new high by reaching 1.5MM downloads. Finishing off a lovely week, Tempting Magazine selected the Gorillacam app as one of the Top 5 Best iPhone Apps.

Flickr Gorillapod Love Favorite Photo of the Week

This great image by Jez Page in the Gorillapod Love flickr pool caught my attention. I love the hint of the Ferris wheel behind the beautiful building, a little bit of modernity poking into the photograph.

Sheffield Town Hall- Flickr Gorillapod Love