A Sucker for Punishment

I’ve finally updated my gallery to include photos from Ireland and Switzerland. Here is one that wouldn’t fit:

Zurich at Night

It’s a panoramic HDR image taken at night, which doesn’t sound so difficult. I certainly didn’t think it would be very difficult while I was taking the 33 shots that went in to it. The problem is that you can’t create the HDRs individually and then stitch them together because each combined section will be anywhere from subtlely to hugely different than the others. In the end, I had to…

  1. load each set of 3 images as layers in photoshop
  2. align them
  3. crop the image to the minimum area covered by all layers
  4. save the layered file
  5. save the brightest layer as “a.tif”
  6. repeat steps 1-5 for all image groups, output to b.tif, c.tif, … k.tif
  7. load images a.tif … k.tif into PTGui
  8. create points, optimize, adjust, and generate a panorama: x.tif
  9. save PTGui project
  10. open all the PSD files from step #4, this time saving the middle layers as images a.tif … k.tif
  11. load PTGui project
  12. touch nothing — generate again, saving as y.tif
  13. repeat steps 10 to 12, saving the darkest layers and generating the panorama z.tif
  14. load x.tif, y.tif, and z.tif in to whatever HDR program you use
  15. watch it crash from lack of memory
  16. load x.tif, y.tif, and z.tif in to Photoshop and shink them
  17. load x.tif, y.tif, and z.tif in to whatever HDR program you use and go (remember that they’re already aligned)

See… Easy! Of course, the pano was too large for EasyHDR to handle and Photoshop (CS2, anyway) does a terrible job in comparison. I had to scale x, y, and z by 50% in each direction before it could load and process it.

Of course, all this was done for the same reason you climb a mountain: Because it’s there. The image is blurry if you look close-up in the original (not posted here) because it was so windy the night I took the photos that I could not keep the camera perfectly still for the long exposures. C’est la vie!

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5 comments to A Sucker for Punishment

  • Good to see the new work sir. I love the subtle color rendition in the image where there are canvas-covered power boats in the foreground. This is a nice selection of shots. I will be posting some new stuff soon as well. I return to the States tomorrow from Belgium and Sweden. There was too much fog and rain in Belgium to shoot anything, but I made a few worth sharing in Sweden.

    Are all the night shots HDR?

  • Yes. All the night shots are HDR. Without it, streets lights et al were all blown out and looked terrible.

    I look forward to seeing your shots.

  • Hi Brian,
    Well here I am looking at your beautiful and am totally envious of you guys.


  • […] has to be at least 50 mega-pixels to be accepted. My original met this requirement but, as you may recall, I’d had to cut the image in 1/2 both horizontally and vertically in order to load it in to […]

  • […] huge dynamic range of night photography.  I usually do these with HDR but if you’ve read my previous HDR adventure (and the follow-up) using only 11×3 images, you’ll understand why I was not about to do it […]

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