Oxford School of Photography

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Tag Archives: High dynamic range imaging

Computational photography: the snap is only the start

To paraphrase REM “Is this the end of the world as we know it? ”

Certainly there will be many who think the end is neigh and that photography as a means of creative control through camera techniques is in it’s death throes. I’m not talking about the ‘art’ photography we are supposed to admire like the recent winners of the  DEUTSCHE BÖRSE PHOTOGRAPHY PRIZE who don’t make photographs whilst still entering a photography competition, I am talking about the regular every day photography that you and everyone you know engages in, whether with a camera or a phone.

From the BBC an article by Leo Kelion tells how in the not too distant future what you photography will be irrelevant because computational photography (software) will allow you to change where and what you focus on.

Imagine a camera that allows you to see through a crowd to get a clear view of someone who would otherwise be obscured, a smartphone that matches big-budget lenses for image quality, or a photograph that lets you change your point of view after it’s taken. The ideas may sound outlandish but they could become commonplace if “computational photography” lives up to its promise. Unlike normal digital photography – which uses a sensor to capture a single two-dimensional image of a scene – the technique records a richer set of data to construct its pictures. Instead of trying to mimic the way a human eye works, it opens the activity up to new software-enhanced possibilities. Pelican Imaging is one of the firms leading the way…..

A companion app uses this information to let the snapper decide which parts of their photo should be in focus after they are taken. This includes the unusual ability to choose multiple focal planes. For example a photographer in New York could choose to make the details of her husband’s face and the Statue of Liberty behind him sharp but everything else – including the objects in between them – blurred.

We have already featured the Lytro Camera that allows this but the new technology is of a whole different order of things and the suggestions are that even camera phones will do this along with sophisticated HDR that actually looks good

For now, high dynamic range (HDR) imaging offers a ready-to-use taste of computational photography. It uses computer power to combine photos taken at different exposures to create a single picture whose light areas are not too bright and dim ones not too dark.

However, if the subject matter isn’t static there can be problems stitching the images together. Users commonly complain of moving objects in the background looking as if they’re breaking apart. One solution – currently championed by chipmaker Nvidia – is to boost processing power to cut the time between each snap. But research on an alternative technique which only requires a single photo could prove superior. “Imagine you have a sensor with pixels that have different levels of sensitivity,” explains Prof Shree Nayar, head of Columbia University’s Computer Vision Laboratory. “Some would be good at measuring things in dim light and their neighbours good at measuring very bright things. “You would need to apply an algorithm to decode the image produced, but once you do that you could get a picture with enormous range in terms of brightness and colour – a lot more than the human eye can see.” Even if current HDR techniques fall out of fashion, computational photography offers other uses for multi-shot images.
So do you want to embrace this or does it fill you with loathing?
Pelican makes a phone camera that allows two subjects to be in focus but not objects in between them
Here to make you feel better is a picture by Henri Cartier-Bresson

95 Amazing Photography Links

We get so much benefit from following Lightstalking, maybe you should too…..it’s been a really exciting week in the world of photography and Toad Hollow Photography has been searching everywhere for the very best links to share here.  This week’s comprehensive list contains some terrific tutorials, reviews, collections, special features, great photography and interesting blogs, enough to keep the avid enthusiast busy for quite some time!  The Toad hopes you dive right in and enjoy this list as much as he did in bringing it to you.

Here is a taste of those 95 links


How to fix skin tone in Photoshop: Video tutorial – this 10 minute video tutorial takes the viewer through the process of using a curves adjustment layer and its associated making layer.  Lee Brown’s comprehensive tutorial shares techniques that can be used in many other ways during post-processing, expanding the horizons of those who view this presentation.


Posing Tips: Expressions & Hats – a great article by Joe Farace that discusses the how’s and why’s of the importance of facial expression and props like hats for portrait photography.  This brief post shares some great insights into the topic, with the points being useful for a wide range of work.


How to Get the Perfect Photo of a Steaming Cup of Coffee – this 5 ½ minute video tutorial shows the viewer how to stage, light, compose and capture that quintessential steamy cup of coffee shot.  Commercial photographer Robert Grant takes you on a detailed and entertaining journey through the entire process, with phenomenal results.


Camera Settings for HDR Photography – this ten minute video presentation takes the viewer through the basic steps to get into HDR photography.  Richard Harrington and Abba Shapiro host this feature, both of them leaders in the field.



Gitzo Series 1 Traveler 6x Carbon Fiber Tripod & Markins Q-Ball Q3 Traveler Ballhead – Edith Levy writes and delivers a completely comprehensive review of this tripod and ballhead combination, sharing some great insight into how versatile and stable these units are.  Use cases and features are discussed here, producing a well-rounded article that covers the topic.



The Body in Nature: Unusually Beautiful Photographs – the human body has been used as an art subject since the beginning of art itself, so it’s highly unusual to come across a body of work that takes on an entirely different perspective of how the body imitates the natural world through a composition focusing on the abstract.  The black-and-white photographs by Arno Rafael Minkkinen are just this, with many of the pieces leaving the viewer with many questions left unanswered.


Silhouettes in a Giant Moonrise, Captured Using a 1200mm Lens – the compression effects introduced by lenses with super-long focal lengths are exploited in the creation of this picture.  As a full moon crests over a hill, Philipp Schmidli positions himself almost a mile away and has a bicycle and rider ride in front, producing a striking result.  This is an absolute must-see post in this week’s list.

Just for a bit of good luck let a caged bird go free….



©Keith Barnes Laos 2012

Click Here: 95 Amazing Photography Links

Keeping it Real in HDR using Photoshop

There are many articles on our blog about HDR, we have always thought that using HDR to try to recreate what the eye sees is the best use of the technology and advocate the excellent tutorials on the Cambridge in colour website. This article By on Lightstalking says much the same and gives a step by step guide to doing so

IMG_0331If you would like to read more of this article on Lightstalking go here

Photography tutorials, links and interesting bits August 2012

We do try to get these out before the weekend but last weekend the sun came calling before Saturday so you can delve into these at work rather than on the beach or in your garden. Much better use of your time at work I think. here again from via Lightstalking

A wonderful week in the field of photography has passed once again, and Toad Hollow Photography has been searching high and low for the best links to tutorials, great photography and interesting links to share with everyone.  These inspirational and beautiful pieces are some of the best seen this week, and the Toad really hopes you enjoy viewing them as much as he did in bringing them to you.

At 3:45 am on a quiet Sunday morning the alarm clock went off and the Toad sprung to action.  An extensive blue hour shoot was scheduled with an exotic supercar, and he couldn’t be late!  The resulting collection of photographs is featured in his blog post “Blue Jet: Corvette Grand Sport“.

Here is just a taste of what is on offer from Toad


Bird Photography Tips | How to Photograph Birds Like a Pro – a great set of tips and techniques is discussed for photographing wildlife in general, and specifically birds.  This is a thoughtful post that contains really useful information for the avid bird photographer.

How to Process 32bit HDR images in Lightroom 4.1 – A.D. Wheeler creates a brief video tutorial that shows the visitor how to work back and forth between Photomatix and Lightroom to achieve the best quality image possible from the workflow.



The King’s Gate at Kastellet – this is a jaw-droppingly good photograph of a remarkable location in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Jim Nix photographs this historic site and by exploiting a perfect composition, Jim captures a great image complete with natural leading lines in the architecture and surrounding details that are brought together with a great vanishing point.

Steady Hand – an absolutely epic scene is captured by Jerry Denham, full of mystery and shadowplay.  As a fisherman makes his way through a fog enshrouded setting along the Little Tennessee River, Jerry takes the opportunity to create a great visual story through his art.

Canyon’s Edge – a gorgeous landscape taken in the Grand Canyon is displayed here in this post by Jason Hines.  Great natural light paints the scene with a deep backdrop of the canyon that appears to go on forever.  This image contains many layers, each revealing their own secrets.

5 Steps to Getting Better HDR Photographs in Photomatix

Photomatix is one of the most popular HDR software options, when you read blogs everyone seems to be talking about it. Over at Lightstalking they have produce a short list of tips that will help you to get the best out of HDR using Photomatix

Photomatix has been the leading HDR photography software since 2003. While HDR photography has been around as an idea for many years, HDRsoft made it a public sensation with the advent of Photomatix. The most recent release of the Pro version of the software, version 4.2, is a major step up and ensures that Photomatix will stay among the HDR leaders in software for some time to come.

While the software is very easy to use, and pretty self-explanatory, there are some helpful tips for the beginner to HDR photography.

Some Great Photography Links You May Have Missed Last Week

From the ever useful pages of Lightstalking

As another week passes by Toad Hollow Photography is busy searching the internet for the best links to tutorials, great photography and interesting blogs to share with everyone.  This week’s list contains some really great images and posts to enjoy featuring the work of some truly gifted artists and writers.  We really do hope you enjoy this list as much as the Toad did in bringing it to you.

Please don’t hesitate to subscribe to the Toad’s Free HDR Guides, Tips and News to receive a copy of the Toad’s first eBook publication.  Work in underway on the next installment which will be made available to all the newsletter subscribers exclusively for free.

100 Awesome Photography Links and Photographs

From the truly excellent Lightstalking

An absolutely wonderful week passes us by, and Toad Hollow Photography has been busy online seeking out tutorials, great photography and interesting blogs to share with everyone here.  This weeks list is a comprehensive selection of some of the best pieces encountered, featuring some really wonderful photographs captured by truly talented artists.  We really hope you enjoy viewing this list as much as the Toad did in compiling and bringing it to you.

The Photography Links List

A long, very long, oh too long weekend here in the UK. Don’t get me wrong I prefer a Queen as head of state (although Graham Norton might be more fun) than some dick of a politician like say Bush or Blair, but do we have to grind to a halt and all be jolly and happy for her; basically for living a long time. I can think of so many better reasons for not going to work although for me most of them also involve visiting an airport and submitting to her majesty’s officials and being treated like a proto terrorist before being allowed to have my fun somewhere else. Admittedly this usually also requires obsequience to some other dictator’s whims.

Anyway I digress, this week’s photography links from the Toad should have been with you before the weekend but here the weekend still has  days to go so maybe….

Theses come to you via Lightstalking “The Toads have been very busy the last few weeks doing shoots on location, and as a result they missed creating their weekly list last week.  Thrilled to be back at it here this week, they have compiled an extensive list of links to tutorials, great photography and interesting blogs for everyone to enjoy.  We really hope you enjoy viewing the images of these talented artists and reading these blogs as much as the Toads did in bringing this list to you.  Without further ado, let’s hop into the great photography, shall we?”

Photographer – at the speed of light by LightStalking, on Flickr

Here are some tasters for you


HDR – Lens Correction – A Short and Simple Sample HTDS – Mark Neal delivers a concise tutorial that shows the reader how to use lens correction tools.  This technique works remarkably well considering the complexity of the image being manipulated.

Showing Scale to Your Photos | Showing Scale Part II – a pair of great posts teaches the reader about the importance of adding scale to an image.  Joe Baraban discusses artistic details in photography that can add a huge element of tension to an image, and in turn create a truly compelling piece.


http://justhundred.com/ – this is truly a special feature based on the great work from Ren Bostelaar.  This online exhibition features a new image every 24 hours and is really a must-visit destination as each day delivers a new image to enjoy.

Special Travel Perks – this is an absolutely epic study in lines in this great post from Theaterwiz.  An empty airport exposes a very compelling bit of architecture that forms incredible natural leading lines and geometries that are mesmerizing beyond proper description.  If you like lines, you will love this.

96 Fantastic Photography Links

from Lightstalking By

Please feel free to check out the Toad’s newsletter!  If you head over to sign up for exclusive Free HDR Guides, Tips and News you can download his first edition eBook “The Toads Tog Tips | The f-stops Here” instantly!  The next edition of eBook is well underway now and will be made available exclusively for free to his subscribers.


Dodging and Burning With a Purpose: Photoshop CS5 – Blake Rudis creates and shares a new 10 minute tutorial video that takes the viewer through the process of using the dodging and burning tool in Photoshop CS5.

HDR – The Capital Transit Snow Sweeper – Monochrome HTDS – Mark Neal shares a brief article on the drama inherent in monochromatic images.  Using a true HDR shot as the source, Mark takes us through his steps in converting this shot and posts examples of the workflow in progress.

Learning Speedlights – The First Step in Expanding Your Photography with Lighting – Chase Jarvis introduces us to what looks like a wonderful online workshop to help those just starting out with speedlights.  Mark Wallace hosts a 3 day symposium online that is free to register for that looks to be of huge benefit to those breaking into this genre of photography.


Return to the Penitentiary – a leader in the realm of incredible UrBex HDR photography, Mike (Theaterwiz) takes us deep inside the famous Eastern State Penitentiary for a close-up look at two presentations on display there.  You will find some of the most incredible colors, details and textures in these mesmerizing images.  Great drama is found in the details visible, but the real strength in these shots lies in what remains unanswered.  An absolute must-see post in this week’s list.

Hayley Lewis Photography – Hayley is an amazing 15 year old photographer with much passion and hope for her life.  She has a natural knack for photography, and her site contains some really great examples of her work broken down into categories.

Shepherd with 300 – the power of the ability to express scale and scope in a single image is shown in this great photograph by Marcin Sobas.  A shepherd works his flock on a beautiful hillside, and we get an incredible image that is sure to captivate the imagination of all who visit.

Tower of Dust – Mike Olbinski captures a stunning image of a natural phenomenon.  A massive dust cloud creates a scene of incredible drama, and Mike takes a picture that leaves the viewer absolutely astonished.

Photography links of the week

The folks at Toad Hollow Photography never seem to rest.  This week’s list is a great compendium of some of the finest tutorials, photography and interesting blogs encountered during their weekly online adventures.  We really hope you enjoy viewing these works of art, produced by some mighty talented artists, as much as the Toad did in bringing the list to you.

As spring rolls in, the Toad has been busy with automotive car photography and this week’s feature “The Deafening Sound Of Fury” showcases a series of 30 HDR images captured during a recent slalom event hosted by the local Corvette club.  If you love supercars half as much as the Toad does, we think you’ll really enjoy this post!

here’s a sample for you


Tim Wallace Photographer: Automotive Car and Commercial Advertising Photography – we really love great photography of all things mechanical; cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, ride-on lawnmowers…  we love it all.  This week we have found the most incredible car photographer in Tim Wallace, and his site is a real must-see destination.  While you’re there, make sure to see his “Car Photography” page.

Grandpa’s Garage – another post that highlights a great automotive photograph.  Blake Rudis sneaks us all into his Grandpa’s garage where sits the most incredible Model T, and as chance would have it magical light comes through the window bathing the entire scene in an almost mystical luminescence.