Abandoned & Decayed – An HDR/URBEX Paradise

Decaying and abandoned old buildings are a treasure trove for the photographer or the urban explorer (URBEX) and these types of environments just shout out for the use of HDR and other post-processing styleization techniques to produce a moody and atmospheric image. The inside of these buildings are normally very dark and where there is bright light spilling in from the outside you can get large changes in dynamic range which can be limiting for most camera sensors. Hence the need for taking multiple bracketed images over a range of exposures to bring out the details in the shadows and properly expose the washed out highlights.
The above image, taken inside an old abandoned colonial house in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, was created by tone-mapping 3 bracketed images as shown below.

0 EV
-2 EV
+2 EV
For dynamic ranges like this where there is a large difference between the dark shadows and the bright highlights of the open doors and windows I would normally have taken more brackets; 5 or even 7 to cover the dynamic range of the scene. However in this case I was taking hand held as I was sans tripod so shot off 3 quick brackets to try and miminise any camera movement.
The images were imported into Aperture and then tone mapped using PhotoMatixPro. I subsequently did some additional post-processing in  Viveza 2 from Nik Software to enhance the colour and texture of some areas such as the wall on the left hand side and the wonderful eroded ceiling beams.
Looking at the final image compared with the “normal” 0 EV photo it really highlights the benefits of HDR techniques to bring out the full dynamic range of the scene.

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