Venice in HDR

Venice: The Grand Canal (original)
Venice: The Grand Canal (original)

Lately I’ve been messing around with HDR photography. Normally that involves merging multiple versions of the same photo taken at different exposures, but I’ve also read that you can create a pretty good approximation of an HDR photo from a single RAW image, so I figured I’d experiment with one of my older photos.

I thought the above photo of the Grand Canal in Venice was a good candidate given the contrast between the light and dark areas, so I used Adobe Camera Raw to create three different image files: the original photo, an underexposed version, and an overexposed version. When I merged them in Photoshop, the overexposed photo washed the image out too much, so I only ended up combining the normal and underexposed versions. I then applied a bit more processing to the final image.

I’m still very much a novice at this HDR stuff (and with photo processing in general) and I kind of rushed through it, so the results are not ideal, but I think the final version below is a decent first attempt at a pseudo-HDR photo. You can click on the photos to view larger versions.

Venice: The Grand Canal (HDR)
Venice: The Grand Canal (HDR)

Like many HDR photos, this has a bit of a surreal feel to it, but with a little more time to tweak settings, I probably could have made it look more realistic.

On a side note, this photo was taken with my Panasonic FZ-40, a megazoom point-and-shoot. I am considering upgrading to a DSLR and have been eyeing the Nikon D3100 or D5200. If any photographers out there have any advice about these (or other cameras), I’d love to hear from you. Although I’m never going to be a professional, I feel that I may be outgrowing the limitations of my megazoom, particularly its performance in low light.

Just minutes after posting this to my blog, I saw a deal on eBay for a refurb Nikon D5100 with a kit lens at a price that was just too good to pass up. I normally steer clear of refurbs but the company, Adorama, seems to have a good reputation among the photography community, so I pulled the trigger.

So it’s official, I’m a DSLR guy! Now, to shop for some accessories and a good all-purpose zoom lens…

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