Why Purchase From Me

Why Purchase A Print From Me?

With the vast number of people selling photographs on the internet, why purchase one of my prints over someone else’s? A big reason you might choose to purchase a print from me is that I show you the quality of my work. A lot of other photographers will only show you small-sized versions of their images – these images look great on a monitor at small size, but they won’t print well at all.

Most photographers don’t put large versions of their images up on the internet for you to see, but there are a few that do put up their full-sized images so you can see what the quality is. I’m going to show you what some of these look like so you can see the difference in quality between my work and other’s work that is out there for you to purchase.  It’s especially important that you pay attention to the quality of the image if you are purchasing an HDR image.  The HDR process can cause the image quality to degrade substantially if you aren’t skilled in the process of creating the HDR image.

 

HDR Issues

In recent years HDR images, photographs, and art have become very popular. By making an HDR image a photograph that was very bland suddenly has a lot of pop and color to it. Because of this a lot of photographers have started using HDR in their images to make them more interesting and sellable. However, a lot of these same photographers don’t appear skilled enough in processing HDR images to overcome their inherent issues. The end result is a nice image on your monitor, but a very poor quality print hanging on your wall.  I’ve spent many years creating HDR photographs and learning how the HDR process is being performed.  By understanding how the HDR process works I’ve developed processing techniques to overcome the HDR issues that result in poor quality prints.

 

HDR Noise

One of the biggest issues with HDR photography is the resulting noise. During the process of mathematically combining the multiple exposures, the noise inherent to the image is also processed and enhanced. Some people refer to this as “grit”, it’s what makes HDR effective for images of abandoned buildings and construction equipment. Textures and rust become enhanced and a visually interesting piece of the photograph. However, for other types of photographs, this HDR noise becomes a distraction from the final result.

Here’s an example of some other HDR photographers images.  These crops are from a full-sized image they put up on the web.  These crops represent the pixels that would be used to print a 1″x1″ square section from a 20″x30″ print:

HDR Noise In Other Photographer's Work

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As you can see, their images have a lot of HDR noise in them. The image on the left is from inside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. These are the stone blocks that make up the memorial. The image on the right is of a blue sky area with clouds. The noise shown in it is very common to see when processing images as HDR.

Now here’s a crop of an image of mine taken inside the Lincoln Memorial. These are the pixels that would be used to print a 1″x1″ section from a 20″x30″ print:

HDR Noise In My Image

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First thing to notice is how much bigger it is compared to a similar 1″x1″ section taken from other HDR photographer’s image. This is because a lot of my images are created by stitching together many images, so the amount of detail that the final image has is much more than other photographer’s images. The next thing to notice is the level of noise. It’s nothing like the other photographer’s image from inside the Lincoln Memorial.

Now let’s look at a crop from a sky section from one of my photographs:

HDR Noise In Sky From One Of My Images

Again, much larger so more detail and no noise like is present in the sky image from the other photographer’s work.

The other photographers either don’t know how to fix these issues or have just quickly created the images to sell and didn’t bother trying to fix them. Either way, this type of noise will be very apparent in a print. I take a lot of time processing my photographs so that I don’t have this type of HDR noise in my images.

 

Misaligned Images

You learnt from my About page that HDR images are created by combining multiple images of different exposure levels. When the images are combined they need to be perfectly aligned, otherwise you will get “ghosting” in the image. Ghosting is when an element in a photograph will be slightly shifted in each image, so when combined fine details will either be blurred or there will be a faint outline of the element in different locations.

Here’s a couple of examples of misaligned images:

HDR Misaligned Image

Click to zoom

The photograph on the left is of a mountain scene with trees. This portion of the image is just of a rocky part of the mountain. As you can see, the mountain shows severe misalignment. In the sky you can also see some gritty noise that was discussed previously. On the right is a portion of an image of a church. This piece is of the upper area of one of the towers. The architectural carvings on the tower are blurry, not well defined. Again, this is caused by misalignment of the multiple exposures used to create the final HDR image.

Some misalignment in other photographer’s works can be the result of not knowing the best ways to prevent camera shake. For a long exposure at night everyone knows to use a sturdy tripod, cable release, and mirror lock-up to minimize camera shake.

I’ve found that this isn’t enough to prevent slight blurring of the image. From years of taking these types of pictures and analyzing the problem I’ve come up with my own way of setting up the camera to virtually eliminate any issues from camera shake. By eliminating camera shake I don’t have blurring issues with the final image. My photographs don’t show any of these misaligned or blurring issues that are present in some other photographer’s images.

 

Image Quality/Attention to Detail

I take a lot of pride in the quality of my final images and the level of detail they show. It’s not uncommon for it to take me a week to fully process a smaller stitched HDR image. For my really large ones, I’ve worked on some of those upwards of a couple of months. This dedication pays off in the end and can be easily seen when compared to other photographer’s work of the same scene.

Since I live in the Washington DC area, let’s take the US Capitol as a subject to compare my work to others. There’s a site that I sell prints through that also hosts other photographer’s images. A search for US Capitol pulls up a lot of images, some that have been sold multiple times to buyers. This site that I sell through offers a zoom feature so you can zoom in on the image to see what the quality looks like. All of the examples below are crops from the zoomed in version of the top-selling images of the US Capitol dome:

US Capitol Dome Crops From Other's Photos

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As you can see the quality varies a lot. There are very noisy/grainy images, lack of detail, and blurry images. These images will not look good printed hanging on your wall at home. And the price you’d be paying (a 20×30″ print of these range from $61 to just over $200!) is too much for the quality you’d be getting.

All of these images look great on a monitor though. And that’s part of the problem, most photographers will only let you see their images at small sizes. Most of the time, about 800×800 pixels is about as large as they want to show you their images. All of my images you can click on to see them at 1600 pixels wide or tall. And my really big images, I’m putting them up as zoomable images so you can zoom right into them and see how much detail they really have.

 

Quality You Can See

My images have quality that you can see. I don’t try to hide any details from you, I’m proud of how much detail my images have and want you to see them. Making large images that contain a lot of quality detail isn’t something new for me.

Take for example this image:

US Capitol Christmas 2003

Click to zoom

This is the Christmas tree that’s in front of the US Capitol. I photographed this scene in 2003 using a Canon 10D camera with a consumer grade lens. The Canon 10D camera was a 6.3 megapixel camera. In its day it was a decent camera, but compared to today it’s not very impressive. But if you compare the dome from my image to those of other photographer’s, you can see the detail and quality of the image I was able to get from the camera:

US Capitol Dome - Christmas 2003

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Notice that the image is well aligned, that there isn’t excessive noise present, that there is detail in the columns, you can see the mural inside the dome through the windows.  There is a vast difference in quality when comparing this photograph of the dome to those above.

 

Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read through all this.  I hope now you can see that the quality of work you get when purchasing a print from me is second to none.  

 

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