Monday, May 28, 2012

Shooting HDR with the PowerShot G12

More than a year ago, I set on a direction, or objective, for Photo Potpourri: to be a photographer's log, presenting visual peeks at almost all of the shoots I spend time on, and to present those peeks as expediently as possible. A lot times the shoots are exciting for me; heck, most of them have been exciting to me. But sometimes they are not.

Today's post represents a few shots of shoots that probably fall into that latter category, but I present them nevertheless in the spirit of heeding this blog's direction. The photos were taken on separate dates and at different places, but because I used the same camera -- the Canon PowerShot G12 -- and the same memory card for both of them, I'm putting them together in the same post. It's a sort of a potpourri within Photo Potpourri.

The first batch is actually from the more current shoot. It was late Friday afternoon, at the north end of the Indianapolis Canal in downtown Indy. Earlier in the day, I'd come across an article online discussing the quality of the G12's in-camera high-dynamic range (HDR) feature. I had used the feature only a few times, and almost exclusively for indoor pictures, and never had I used a tripod. I'd simply rested the camera on the nearest or most convenient inert object and hoped for the best. Occasionally, I tried to hand-hold it, thinking the G12's built-in image stabilization (IS) would keep things steady, much like how my Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6/3 Di II piezoelectric drive vibration compensation (VC) lens does for my DSLR camera bodies. That didn't happen, however.

The article reported how the G12's HDR feature worked splendidly outdoors, delivering some dynamic images. Its performance indoors, however, left a lot to be desired, the article continued, largely because it did not have the technical capability to deal with resolving different lighting types (e.g., tungsten vs. fluorescent) in the same composition. My experience with the G12's HDR feature indoors was largely with single lighting (mostly tungsten), and the results had been OK, I thought. My complaint about the camera's HDR feature was that the IS apparently shuts down in the HDR mode, which is when you'd ideally want it to work the most. Most of my hand-held shots, consequently, were no good. Well, I had another complaint, too -- the in-camera merging of images writes the final picture into JPG mode. Even though you normally have the option to shoot in RAW format with the G12, you have no such option with the built-in HDR feature. (Note: Yes, you can bracket exposures with the G12 the usual way in RAW mode and do the HDR image melding in post-processing; you don't have to use the built-in HDR feature).

Because I'd never used the G12's HDR feature outside, I decided to take it with with me to a meeting I was to have at Creation Cafe that afternoon. The eatery is at the north end of the Canal. I arrived early and fired a dozen or so HDR compositions, resting the camera on level walls and bars wherever I could find one to compose the shot. I thought they turned out OK, but nothing spectacular. However, there were very few shots that actually had contrasting light in the same composition -- the optimum situation for using HDR. That's the story behind those shots.

The four other shots, at the bottom of this post, were taken about three weeks earlier during a walk through Garfield Park and along Pleasant Run Parkway. I did a leisurely stroll just because it was a beautiful day, and I brought along the G12 in case I spotted something picture-worthy. There wasn't much picture-worthy that day, except the interesting lines and patterns of the fencing along railroad tracks at the Pleasant Run Parkway overpass just south of Beecher Street.

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