Over the last year or so, I have been seeing increasing numbers of HDR (High Dynamic Range) images on blogs and photo sharing sites. HDR images are made by using special software to merging several differently exposed images together into a single image. On recent trips to Malta I have been trying my hand at HDR photography and I am going to share some of the resulting pictures with you here.
A single camera exposure is usually made to show good detail in the main subject regardless of whether the highlights burn and the shadow areas block up. We don’t have any other option but to expose for the area of the scene that we are most interested in. In real life we have the luxury of being able to widen our pupils to peer into shadows or to screw up our eyes to look at brighter parts of the scene. HDR photography mimics this real life behavior by taking separate images to capture shadow, mid tone and highlight detail before combining them into a single image. I used Photomatix software to do the clever stuff. Do some Googling to find out more about the technique. In the meantime, here are some of the images that I took.
Starting near Mgarr, the first shot is of the Ta Hagrat Neolithic temples. They are smaller than the more famous sites at Hagar Qim, Mnajdra, Ggantija & Tarxien but are definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. They are only open to the one day a week (I think) but you can get a reasonable shot of them through the fence. Whilst you are in Mgarr, take a look at the ‘egg church’ with it’s oval dome and the bomb shelter underneath the ‘Il Barri’ restaurant.
The next shot is one of Malta’s trademark dghajsas. Literally translated dghajsa means boat in Maltese but it usually refers to the traditional narrow rowing boats that can still be seen in the Grand Harbour. Dghajsa’s are rowed standing up with the oarsman(men) facing the direction of travel. On the 31st of March each year (Freedom Day), a regatta is held with boats from the Three Cities and other towns competing against each other. This boat was photographed in Dockyard Creek as the the limestone buildings turned gold in the setting sun
One of the problems with combining several photos together is that you have to keep the camera AND the subject still. A tripod is very useful but not always essential as most software packages try to align the images. In this shot, taking in the evening in Kalkara, the water was calm but not 100% still so the boats did move a little between shots. I had to tidy it up a little in Photoshop to remove blurred edges and the like.
The sun had just disappeared over the hill behind Mgarr church when I took this picture from the deck of the Gozo ferry. I didn’t have my tripod handy but was able to balance the camera on one of the ships deck rails.
The Dingli cliffs are a fantastic place to sit and watch the sun go down. Take your tripod and make sure you dont go too close to the edge
One of my favourite parts of Malta is the wild section of coastline between Migra iL Ferha and Ras id Dawwara. Here are a couple of winter sunsets taken a couple of years apart but within a few hundred meters of each other.
This tiny chapel and cemetary stands close to the entrance to the Mediterranean Film Studios. The remains of Cholera victims from nearby Kalkara were interred here. Nowadays it stands mostly forgotton between Fort Ricasoli and Fort Rinella (home of the Armstrong 100 ton gun).