The Deck Days of Summer


Deck in Progress

An HDR Panorama of our deck under construction


As I mentioned, my life, of late, has revolved around the deck construction. The deck is the center of our lives at the river. We spend about as much time outside on the decks as we do inside the house. More, if we start sleeping on the deck all summer. It is also somewhat critical, as it is our only entrance into the living space of our home.

This photograph is not a great photograph, but a lot of processing went into the making of it. I want to talk about the post processing, because I think that is valuable. Later, when I get comfortable with how to execute it, I will spend more time making the subject interesting.

The final product is a composite of 15 images. Why so many? Well, I had two obstacles to overcome.

  • First, I don’t have a good wide angle lens and a cropped sensor. This means that, I need to stitch several images together to take a picture of most (but still not all of) the deck.  I captured the deck in five slices.
  • I also had a high contrast scene. You will notice that the umbrellas and trees are mostly in direct sun, where as the deck is in the morning shade of the house. The dynamic range was well beyond that which the camera was capable of capturing.  The answer was to bracket each of the shots by +/- 2/3 stop and use an HDR merge to combat the contrast.
  • The final step was to straighten out some of the distorted lines. There is still an issue with the edge of the deck in the bottom, right corner.

What did I learn?

  • Do the HDR first; then do the stitch. With the stitch software I am using (Photoshop CS5 Built in) the starting images have to be the same size. No matter what I do, stitching the three (normal, under and over) sets of five images together first gives me different size results???
  • The HDR software I used was the Photoshop CS5 Built in HDR Pro 2, and I was somewhat disappointed in the results. I went to a class several months back where we discussed the features in other HDR products here far superior. I still have the originals, so I can always go back and reprocess if I get a better HDR package. I would like to make the foreground brighter, and I think that I could have done that in a better HDR package.

What is next?

  • More pictures of the deck from other angles and under better lighting conditions
  • Explore other HDR packages, but budget is tight, as always.

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