Tuesday, June 21, 2011

HDR Challenges ... Photographing a Kitchen

I recently completed a shoot for my friend, Steve, who's a kitchen designer/contractor.  He needed some images for his website and brochures.  I was happy to help.

The nice thing about doing a job for a friend for free is that I know he'll be happy with the product and the price.  This is the third kitchen I photographed for Steve and each time I do a shoot like this I learn more about the complexities of interior kitchen shots.

Here are some of the final images from that shoot.  Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Working on these pictures in HDR reminded me that there are a few challenges about interior shots, especially in kitchens:

White Balance ... This can be tricky with multiple light sources.  Natural light streams into the windows, florescent lights are under the counters, and halogen lights might be overhead.  This particular kitchen produced some images I just couldn't correct to my satisfaction.

Color Saturation ... Some colors become over saturated in HDR images.  I backed off somewhat when I imported the HDR images into Lightroom and clicked on the particular colors to tone down. There was too much red in the floor in some of the HDR images.  I was able to tone it down and return the floor to its brown color.

Noise ... Watch out for noise, even when shooting at ISO 100.  HDR amplifies noise even in areas you wouldn't expect to find it. Kitchens always have deep recessed places where little light penetrates. These places are where noise lurks.  Noise also likes dark shadows.  Noise reduction software or the noise reduction sliders in Lightroom can reduce this problem.  Apply the adjustments before processing the images through the HDR software.  Additional noise reduction might be needed a second time after creating the HDR image.

Setting up a tripod and taking multiple exposures for HDR processing is a lot easier than managing multiple strobes and light stands.  But the trade off is challenges in post-capture processing.  Some of these challenges, like white balance issues,  might not be fully solvable.  Other challences, like excess noise, are usually fixable.

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