SLR Lounge, of slrlounge.com the judges of the HDR Photo Contest asked me a few question about what inspired me to take the winning image and how I took the image. Here are the questions they asked me about the winning image.
1. Brandon, where did you take this photo?
I took this image in Rome, Italy, of the Roman Forum.
2. What time of day?
I took it at sunrise on Christmas morning.
3. Anything worth sharing about lighting?
This image is all natural light. It was still pretty dark, so I had to use a tripod to keep the image sharp with the slow shutter speed.
4. What equipment did you use?
I used my Nikon D50 with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens and a Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 tripod with a Manfrotto 498RC2 Ball Head.
5. What inspired you to take this photo?
I was deployed to Italy in 2008 but only got to spend about 24 hours in Rome. While in Rome, I bought a painting of the Roman Forum with this point of view and hung it in my living room when I got home. I looked at the painting every day vowing “If I ever get back to Rome, I will go to this spot and get an image”. Three years later, I once again got deployed to Italy, but this time I got to spend three days in Rome for Christmas. On Christmas Eve while walking around taking in the sights, I finally found the location with the view of the painting. It was a horrible sunset that night, so on Christmas morning I woke up and set up my camera to capture the sun rising over the Roman Forum. Now I have a large canvas print of this image hanging in my living room.
6. Did you do any post-processing? if yes, tell us about it!
Yes, I use Photomatix Pro 4 to make my HDR images and then stitched the three HDR images together in Photoshop CS4. I also made minor color adjustments and noise reductions in Lightroom 3.
7. What equipment do you normally have in your bag?
Currently in my bag I have a Nikon D800, Nikon 7100, Nikon 16-35mm F/4, Nikon 70-200mm F/2.8 VRI, Sigma 35mm F1/4 (art), Tamron 60MM F/2 Macro, Nikon TC-17e ii, Nikon SB-910, Nikon MC-36, B+W CP Filter, Lee Big Stopper, Lee .9 Grad ND Hard and Soft Filter, and a Manfroto 190CXPRO4 tripod with a Manfrotto 498RC2 Ball Head.
8. Any advice for others trying to capture something similar?
The best advice is to wake up early and get to your location before sunset and get everything set up. Over the years of taking landscape pictures at sunrise and sunset, I have found that the images I tend to like the best were all taken at sunrise. As I have shown, you do not need the best equipment on the market to make a great image; you just need to know have to use the equipment you have to its fullest ability. The 18-55 lens wasn’t wide enough at 55mm, but if i shot the images at 18mm the building and columns would have bow inwards. So I took three vertical images at 55mm and stitched them together in Photoshop. I didn’t have an expensive felt shift lens to keep the columns from bowing, but I did know at 55mm on crop sensor it would give me about 82mm on a full framed camera which would be long enough to keep the buildings and columns looking straight. A sturdy tripod is key for a great HDR. One, it will make sure your image is sharp and two, it will make sure everything lines up perfectly in post production. I also used my camera self timer to make sure there was no camera shake from pressing the shutter button. My camera settings were 55mm, at 1/4sec (+2, -2 stops for the HRD), at f/16, ISO 200.