Chinatown in HDR – 1

Anyone who’s been on my blog with any regularity knows I love shooting photos in DC’s Chinatown. It’s a rare combination of city dweller, suburbanite, and tourist, all cramped into a few city blocks. As a street shooter, it’s perfect fodder.

I like HDR for street photography. There are a number of algorithms, but 2 main ones I use. One, Mantiuk ’06 provides local contrast, and boosts textures and details that the camera sees, but which are difficult to discern with the naked eye. This is perfect for color contrasts and for showing the grittiness of the street. Here are some examples:

The other algorithm is Fattal ’05, which provides a more “realistic” view, while boosting contrasts and color somewhat. It provides a rich, more tonally pure shot. My favorite of the Chinatown shots is below. I shot it into the sun, which darkened the scene considerably. Using Mantiuk, all the shadowed people would pop into view. Here, the HDR focuses you on the light, color, and shadows.

Probably my best example of the contrast between the two is below — two renditions of the same shot, one with Mantiuk and one using Fattal’s algorithms. I still don’t know which one I like better. I guess it depends on which part of the scene I’m looking at. In the future, I’ll probably start working up some hybrids between the two.


5 thoughts on “Chinatown in HDR – 1

    1. In that shot, the couple was walking in the crowd, and the homeless man was just stirring awake. They emerged from behind others, just as he lay back down and flopped his hand over the side. They were startled both at the sight of the sleeping, intoxicated man, and me, with the big camera aimed down the street. It was just a flash of a look, but I got lucky.


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