Paris in HDR

I spend a lot of time looking at great HDR photos and thinking of how to find the right photo and the right application for HDR. I find that when HDR works, it works. And, I don’t always know why. I just like it. Then again, there are lots of examples of HDR gone wrong.

Recently I finished a long trip to Europe for work and was fortunate to spend a few days in Paris touring with my wife. I mainly focused on photos and decided to leave video behind for awhile. The fast pace of our sightseeing and the crowds of people made video very difficult. The result of my efforts were some good to great photos that I’m proud of. But for this blog post, I’m going to focus on just two HDR photos from the entire group of 853 photos I took in four days.

Monet’s Garden

First, I visited Giverny outside of Paris. This is where Claude Monet lived for a portion of his life and it is where he painted over 250 water lilly painting in his Japanese garden. During our visit, the crowds were not too bad and I was able to take some good shots. However, I didn’t have my tripod so I had to go handheld and work to get multiple shots with the different exposures.

Here is the final picture from Monet’s garden. This was shot on my Canon T2i with a Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 lens.  I used magic lantern to shoot 5 individual shots. at +/- 1 stop.

Here is one of the original photos below.  Tone mapping with Photomatix created a very stunning picture in my opinion.  I have to admit that I also played with the saturation of individual color channels to get the look I liked.  Overall, I think I captured the spirit of the impressionist work that Monet was famous for.

I spent some time applying artistic filters to this same picture in photoshop and the result is pretty spectacular.  Here is a the result:

Paris Landscape

Now, because I was shooting in RAW I was able to tone map photos with a single image.  Below is a landscape of Paris that turned out pretty good in my opinion.  Here are the steps I followed:

  1. Opened in Photomatix and tone mapped with default settings. Saved to JPG.
  2. Opened in Photoshop and adjusted for lens correction to straighten the Eiffel tower.
  3. Imported into Aperture (I could have done this in Photoshop) and adjust saturation, contrast, sharpening and general hue.  Basically tune to your liking.

Here is the original unedited photo

I’m going to give credit to a few people that have helped me work on my HDR technique:

Dave Dugdale –
Trey Ratcliff –

Photomatix is a great tool for HDR.  I know that the latest versions of Photoshop allow you to do this as well, but the results are slightly harder to achieve.  You can download a free trial of Photomatix at HDRsoft.

Let me know what you think.  Do you like HDR?


  2 comments for “Paris in HDR

  1. Bill
    November 17, 2011 at 4:16 am

    Nice HDR Tom! Those look awesome! Have been thinking of trying to shoot some HDR shots. I have an HDR filter from Nik software i want to try.

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