My First HDR Photos

I’m learning about High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography using a Canon G10 and Photomatix Pro. The photo above is my first attempt using the Detail Enhancer tool with five bracketed exposures +4 +2  0 -2 -4. Here is the same image again, this time with the Tone Compressor tool…

Here is a comparison photo created from a single RAW file with minimal adjustment…

One thing I discovered is that the Tone Compressor in Photomatix, Adobe Lightroom, and the RAW plug-in for Photoshop all do approximately the same thing—global tone mapping to recover “blown” pixels in bright areas and bring out detail in dark shadows.

The key toning controls from Lightroom 1.4.1 are shown on the right. Recovery pulls the highlights in from the right on the histogram. Fill Light does the opposite from the left. It also has the nifty Clarity and Vibrance sliders near the bottom. The former is a type of local contrast enhancer and the latter increases the saturation of mid tones. I routinely give my photos a dash of each! The RAW plug-in has almost identical controls for importing/converting. Turns out I’ve be doing lightweight HDR for the past two years thanks to LR. Now it’s time to take things to the next level!

Finally, I just finished reading Ferrell McCollough’s Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography, which is a good place to start if you are ready for an in depth discussion of techniques and software.

Catch-22 of the Digital Age

I like to listen to audiobooks on my iPod. I have a subscription to and buy one or two books a month. In the beginning things were fine, but about two years ago iTunes stopped remembering my Audible password. I get around this by double-clicking on any Audible file and put in my password when it asks. This fixes the problem long enough to sync. But if I quit iTunes, I start over. If I forget, iTunes automatically deletes the files from my iPod. Needless to say this is a major pain in the butt!

This got me thinking about Digital Rights Management (DRM) and how wrong it is. The cartoonist xkcd sums this up nicely. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t! I stopped buying DRM’d music from the iTunes Store in favor of DRM-free tunes from As far as I know I don’t have that option for books. Why not?! [The irony here is Audible is now owned by Amazon.]

Thanks to!

June 2009 Update: The iTunes Store has gone DRM-free for music! How about it Audible?

Everglades Canoe Trip 2009

Yet another excellent adventure, this year with my youngest brother Bruce. We started at Coot Bay Pond and circled clockwise around Whitewater Bay. The first day was spent mostly paddling up the Joe River, where we saw manatee and dolphins galore. The Joe River Chickee faces west and we had an excellent sunset. The next day we did a “boomerang” with the tides out to the Gulf and up the Shark River. The hurricane damage to the coastal mangroves was remarkable. We even saw a Loggerhead Sea Turtle swimming toward the shore!

After exploring the small streams north of the river we camped on the Shark River Chickee. The next day we waited for the tide to return and float our boat off the mud. We got some reading in, ate lunch and took off about noon. Bruce led us through “The Labyrinth” — a complex of creeks and ponds leading back to the big bay. We stopped to rest at the Watson River Chickee and kept out of the wind as much as possible on our way up the North River.

It was cool with a steady breeze to keep the bugs off so we slept out under the stars that night. Outstanding! Had a small problem with my pad, which developed a “tumor” overnight. The sun rose in an almost cloudless sky. We continued north towards the cut-off between the North and Roberts Rivers.

Along the way we saw bromeliads in bloom and a pair of Ospreys sharing a fish in a classic nest. From there we turned east into the Lane River and did a bit of bushwhacking. Then we proceeded south to Hell’s Bay and our chickee. That night we had both Venus and the crescent Moon overhead.

The next day dawned warmer and more humid. Two dolphins escorted us for twenty minutes as we made our way down the East River and out to the bay. Then it was headwind time until we crossed Coot Bay and got back into the mangroves. We finished where we started, the Coot Bay Pond put-in. An nice finish to a spectacular trip!