Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Photo Nerd

I really like photographs. I especially like them if they are ones that I took. I also really like them if they look really cool!

Involving a bit of nerd-factor is always a bonus.

A friend told me to check out HDR imaging. A quick Google Image Search brings up a bunch of awesome looking pictures.

I decided to read up how it's done. Wikipedia basically told me that a digital camera sensor only has a specific range of definition it came make out in a single exposure while our eyes can see much larger ranges. The concept of taking a HDR photo is that you take multiple photos in quick succession of the same subject (on a tripod to eliminate/reduce movement) all at different exposure levels. That way you will have a much larger range of colors. To create the HDR photo, you use software to overlay the images and the result is an image that the camera alone could not have taken in a single exposure.

So this sounded really cool and I thought I should try it. Some cameras have a feature called Exposured Bracketing or sometimes AEB. My new Nikon D3000 does not. It's also not feasible to take a photo, switch the settings manually, and then take the next one. That is unless my subject is REALLY not moving at all. I needed some way to automate this.

Enter gphoto2...

I noticed there are several free Windows applications that can control the Nikon cameras, but I don't have any Windows computers also my Netbook would be the most convenient for me to take outside with me to actually make shots. I ended up finding a command line application called gphoto2 for Ubuntu. It could be installed with a simple:

apt-get install gphoto2

I heard there was limited support for my particular camera so I decided to play around. It worked! I was able to make some changes to exposure and take photos using the command line of my computer! The next step was to automate an exposure bracket. I created a really quick shell script with the commands below:

#! /bin/bash
gphoto2 --auto-config
gphoto2 --set-config exptime=15 \
--capture-image \
--set-config exptime=20 \
--capture-image \
--set-config exptime=25 \
--capture-image \
--set-config exptime=30 \

When I ran that my camera took 4 photos back to back! When I looked over to my computer I could see my Eye-Fi card was already uploading the pictures and it had totally worked! All 4 pictures were taken at different exposure levels. The pictures where awful and just of my refrigerator, but it was a proof of concept.

I can't wait to get out and do this for real!

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