Dabbling with HDR photography

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed the improved photos since January. My lovely husband surprised me with a DSLR camera, something that I’ve always wanted since my film SLR stopped working years ago. The new camera spurred me to take a photography class through UT Austin’s informal classes, as well as read some photo blogs and books. I latched on to the idea of trying high dynamic range (HDR) photography after seeing HDR photos in a variety of places. I know that professional photographers have mixed feelings about HDR, but for us amateurs it can really help bring out detail in photos that we would not otherwise capture. When we traveled to my husband’s family farm in Iowa over this summer, I knew I’d have the perfect subjects for HDR photos. The farm is over 100 years old, the farm house was built in 1927 and my father-in-law has a variety of old Ford tractors and old farm implements on display. See timstractors.com for more information on how he restores the tractors.

For the photos below, I used my big tripod, 5 stops for the HDR (-2, -1, 0, 1, 2), and Photomatix essentials to process the photo series. I tried to not go crazy with special effects.

The farm house, built in 1927.

One of the many Ford tractors brought back to its former glory by my father-in-law.

An old thresher, a farm implement that separates grain from the stalk and the husk.

An old Ford truck parked on the farm.

I picked up a collage frame and had a few photos printed to give to my father-in-law. I hope he likes it!

HDR photos of the farm ready to be gifted.

Creative Commons License
This work by Laura Feeney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Making a Mother’s Day letter frame

Quite often I have the urge to make handmade gifts. Much of the time, my urge doesn’t actually align with my available time and I default to buying gifts. For Mother’s Day this year (yes, this post is late) I collaborated with my sister to make a photo collage that spells “Mother”. While you can go online and order frames that spell anything you want, I had two problems with this. The first problem is that the frames tend to be quite large and the second is that you can’t upload your own photos to use. The big draw to making this gift was using photos from the cities where my sister and I live.

After we both went out and took a slew of  photos, I processed them to be black and white and cropped them to be 3.5″x5″ so that I could buy a smaller frame that would fit better in our Mom’s house. The photos were printed as 4 x 6 prints that I cut down to size with my swing arm paper cutter. I found a frame at Michaels that would fit the photos and had a piece of mat cut to fit inside the frame. I used photo corners to mount the photos. I had to carefully measure and draw light pencil lines on the mat in order to properly align the photos. After mounting the photo corners, I erased all of my lines.

The finished product, now in Mom’s hands:


Photo key:

  1.  My sister and her fiance making the letter M in Anchorage
  2. A work of art in the sidewalk on 2nd street in Austin
  3. My husband and I forming the letter T in Austin
  4. A sculpture / bench downtown Austin
  5. The letter E from a light up sign in Anchorage
  6. The side of a bench in Austin


Making a care card

My uncle has been in the hospital for cancer treatment and I’ve sent him a few cards and a knitted hat to let him know that I am thinking of him.

This weekend my Dad was in town and we decided to do something silly for his brother / my uncle. We took paper and markers with us out to “Oasis” Texas, this crazy food complex out on Lake Travis in Austin.  There were plenty of statues and scenery to make silly signs for and then take our pictures with the signs.  They are now printed out and headed in the mail to Pittsburgh to my uncle! I hope he enjoys looking at them as much as we enjoyed taking the photos.