Travails with my camera

Natural History Museum Shot – B&W HDR

I’ve been asked how I created my natural history museum shot:
Natural History Museum

First, you need to know a friendly guard to let you in at 7am. Before it opens to the public, they’re happy for you to use a tripod, without which this shot wouldn’t be possible.

In order to get a focussed image from the foreground to the background, a small aperture is needed in the camera lens. This image is taken at about f/18.

In order to minimize noise in the image a low ISO value of 100 is used.

The camera is placed on a tripod and placed in the centre of the staircase (there’s a bannister you can use to line up the shot). Then a spirit level is used to level the camera and lens.

The dynamic range of the camera (the range of brightnesses it can record from the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights) is less than the range present in the room. To fix this I took 3 exposures, of 1, 3 and 6 seconds. I then used Luminance HDR to align and blend the 3 images into one image with a higher dynamic range.

The final problem to overcome was lighting. The top of the image is lit by daylight and the bottom half by tungsten lamps. These are different colour lights – daylight is quite blue, tungsten is quite orange. I could have adjusted the white balance of each shot (tungsten shadows, daylight highlights), but I didn’t. I couldn’t be bothered to fix it so I used DxO Filmpack to convert the oddly coloured picture to look like it had been shot on Ilford F Pan 25 film.

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