Monday, August 17, 2015

Floral display is striking this summer
at Garfield Park's Sunken Garden

There was a period when I made a project to photo the annual floral display in the Sunken Garden at Garfield Park. I started in 2004 and continued for several years.
After a few years' break in photographing the display, I noticed recently that this year's display was looking particularly striking. In fact, I'd even say it was among the best I'd seen there since I started my project. So I resolved to visit the garden and record it on pictures.

I did that last Friday, Aug. 14 ... and notched another "first" in the process. I hand-held my Canon 6D, equipped with a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens, while bracketing exposures (three per picture) to process the images in high-dynamic range (HDR) software.

The 24-70mm lens is not equipped with image stabilization, but I've had remarkable success with the Photomatix HDR software (version 5.05) detecting and correcting motion blur in my recent HDR endeavors. In the past, to protection against blur, I've always used a lens that at least had vibration compensation or image stabilization while hand-holding my HDR bracketing. But I decided Friday to put Photomatix to the ultimate test, hence the decision to use a better quality lens, even if it lacked stabilization.

The first version of Photomatix (4.0) I owned made an attempt to correct such blur. In an early layer of an image's processing, Photomatix 4.0 asked the user if the image was taken hand-held or using a tripod. Depending on the answer, the software employed tried to correct blurs found while also melding and processing images to optimize detail. The blur-correction success rate was only about 40 percent for me, however.

Version 5.05 still offers that help early layer of help, but adds a second stage of blur correction that it calls "deghosting." In this layer, Photomatix not only shows the user what the blur correction will look like in the finished image, but gives the user a choice of automatic or manual control of finding blurs to correct (automatic usually is sufficient, but where there are multiple objects blurring in an image, I've handled it manually and was glad I had that option). In addition, users have a choice of picking which of the three blended images to use for the base of processing. This layer has done a terrific job for me. I've been able to use almost everyone of my shots since using 5.05.  

Some samples of what I shot appear in this post. To peruse all the images of the shoot, visit the 2015 gallery in a new Sunken Garden annual flower display folder I've created at my site at SmugMug.

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