Fruit Loops and HDR

By default, New Year’s Day for most of us is spent bumming around the house. Everyone lacks sleep, the skies are smoggy and the malls and restaurants are mostly closed. Perfect time to just be lazy, bum around and do unimportant stuff, such as take a photo of Fruit Loops breakfast cereal.

Original photo - no post processing

I was obviously bored enough to pour a serving of cereal in a bowl, and take a picture of it. This was taken early morning and outdoors, but in the shade. For metadata freaks: f/2.8, 1/800, ISO200. I was pleased with the result. The large lens opening contributed to the 3D effect by making the cereals on top very sharp and the ones at the bottom slightly blurred.

Post-processing

To kill more time, I decided to tweak it on Aperture. On the app, I added some definition and vibrancy, plus a huge amount of vignetting for more drama. I also inserted a watermark which I have learned to do on Aperture just now. You will see a watermark on all my blog photos from now on. The results were beautiful, at least to my amateur standards.

I wanted to squeeze out more from the image so I decided to post process it further with Photomatix HDR Tone Mapping–the “cheater” 1-click application to create HDR photos. This is also my first time to use Photomatix and I specifically used the Aperture plug-in version. For my first attempt, I didn’t make any adjustments. Here’s the result:

Same photo after Aperture and Photomatix post-processing

The output is very pretty and surreal, again for my amateur standards. The original literally pales in comparison. However, for true HDR effect, three photographs of different exposures must be merged into one image with increased dynamic range. I’ve seen a lot of HDR photos on online and the best ones are a whole lot better that my first attempt with the Fruit Loops.

Fearless Forecast

Back in my day, an amateur photographer had no control of how his photos would turn out. He would just leave his roll of film in a 1-Hour Photo Lab and hope that the technician will do a good job in adjusting contrast, color, white balance, etc. The early days of digital has brought about post-processing software such as Photoshop which were powerful tools but often reserved for professionals.

In the very near future, I would predict that all amateur photographers would have had some form of post processing done to their pictures before uploading them online. Look around the web; it’s already starting to happen. And it doesn’t matter if the photos are a hobbyist’s online portfolio, merely an avatar, or just a Facebook photo album of dinner with friends.

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