Experiment Insanity

Yesterday evening I decided to shoot this building.  It's been calling to me for a while and since I was going to be right there, I decided to take advantage.  I quickly realized that I forgot my tripod....the first in many misadventures for this image!  


I knew I wanted to combine two techniques to really bring out the color and contrast in this building...and to be able to get the whole building in one image.  The Brenizer Method involves taking multiple photos of a scene and "stitching" them together.  This is very similar to how panoramas are made.  I absolutely love the distortion this technique created.  


In addition, I wanted to try my hand at HDR.  Also known as High Dynamic Range, HDR involves taking multiple images of the same scene at different exposures and blending them to create a very dynamic image.  This technique can look amazing or really awful.  


Here's how this image came into being.  I retrieved the forgotten tripod and shot my scene.  3 images at a time, in small sections until I had the whole building.  I came home and imported my images while I researched some free HDR processors.  An hour or so later, I was combining exposures to get me one set of 8 images that needed to be stitched together.  Wanting to make sure I didn't overwhelm my computer, I decided to stitch them together 2 at a time....but apparently that was overwhelming 'cause PhotoShop crashed....over and over again until I gave up.  


I knew I needed to take another approach.  "Ok, lets try stitching the pre-HDR files"...."Oh YAY!  It's not crashing!  WAHOOOOOO!"  At this point it's midnight, I'm exhausted but afraid that if I walk away, I'll loose track of where I'm at.  So I drink a cup of coffee and keep on working.  Fast Forward to 2 am and I've got my stitched images ready to run through the HDR processor.  I'm giddy....until I see that the processor won't run my images because they are not precisely the same size.  "Ok, back to Lightroom to resize."  Yeah, it still won't run them.  Oh and now it's popping up an error and crashing.  What to do?  I take one stitched image and create 2 copies...1 overexposed and one underexposed.  These are definitely the same size because they are the exact same photograph.  Yeah, that crash error keeps coming up.  4am, I HAVE to sleep.  I set a new HDR processor to work and head to bed.  


10 am I wake up to the new HDR software crashed.  I try again.  It works....YAY!  But it looks awful and nothing I do is fixing it.  In fact, each adjustment I make takes about an hour to render and I've long ago lost patience with the process.  


New approach.  Take one stitched image and make it as HDR like as I can in Lightroom.  Took me all of 30 minutes.  It is 7 pm.....23 hours after I shot this and I am finally done with it.  I almost don't even care if it's good....almost.  I am so glad that I'm done with it and should I ever attempt the HDR/Brenizer Method combo again, it will be when I have a brand spanking new super computer!

*The Queens Ransom is an incredibly cool antique shop on Main St in Buckley, WA.  If you've never been there, you NEED to check it out!