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Sunrise at The Temple, Burning Man 2009 | by Michael Holden
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Sunrise at The Temple, Burning Man 2009

Sunrise at The Temple, Burning Man 2009 - The Temple at Burning Man 2009, aka "Fire of Fires" built by the CommunityArtMaker kids from Austin. This is an HDR image comprised of three exposures taken at 1/20, 1/40 and 1/80 at f13. It was shot around the same time as that other shot of the temple y'all liked so much. I've got a bunch that I haven't published and will try to release new ones as time permits.


This part is for the photo geeks and HDR dweebs...Last weekend I did some experiments designed to identify the strengths and weaknesses of various color spaces and workflow techniques in regards to HDR image processing. The variables were "raw or tif" versus "auto or manual white balance" versus "HDR merged in Photoshop or Photomatix" versus "AdobeRGB or sRGB or ProPhoto".


A full test matrix would have been a real pain in the ass to work through, but I found that I had the best results with creating the 32-bit hdr files in Photomatix using RAW files in the ProPhoto color space with WB set manually. This might seem obvious (if you happen to be "that kind of geek") but I wanted to see if I could open up some new territory, hone the workflow and clearly mark other techniques as being not so much amazing. If I had to sum it up, I'd say don't be lulled into complacency by sRGB. It *might* look better on your screen at first but it goes straight to hell when you start crushing and torturing your pixels. ProPhoto and AdobeRGB both have a lot more space in the low end, which is crucial in....well, my HDRs.


After some very straightforward tone mapping I sucked the image into Photoshop, busted out the sky from the rest of the image, mellowed out some jangly crunk with the soft light/opacity trick, tweaked some levels so it looked more "natural" (yeah, I'm LOL, too, shaddup!) and then pulled it into Lightroom for final cropping and a couple other things. Exported as tif, de-noised in Noise Ninja, re-imported into Lightroom and uploaded.


If you're a "real" photographer, this workflow probably sounds an awful lot like super-gluing a kitten to the ceiling for kicks. And you'd be right about that. :)


More pics on my site at

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Taken on September 4, 2009