Sunday, January 25, 2009

Long Exposure Night HDR with the Arduino

Last November I wrote about Joergen Geerds' HDR night panoramas of New York City. HDR ("High Dynamic Range") requires an identical set of original exposures taken across a wide range of exposures. With the Canon EOS cameras, the photographer is limited to an exposure range of only +/- 2EV when shot in any sort of automatic bracketing mode. Since many HDR enthusiasts require an exposure range greater than +/- 2EV, the only solution is to shoot in manual mode. However, this creates a big problem for night photographers. Night photography requires longer exposures, so anyone who wants to combine 1) HDR and 2) panoramas while 3) shooting at night is faced with a big problem: either babysit your camera for hours in the cold while shooting in manual mode, or limit yourself to an automatic +/- 2EV range while taking advantage of a self-timer.

What is a serious HDR panoramic night photographer to do?

Joergen has solved the problem with a bit of ingenuity. Joergen built his own automatic exposure controller using the Arduino platform, a Nokia LCD, and little bit of his own programming. He calls it the Bracketmeister, and it allows bracketing up to +/- 10EV, exposures up to two hours, and up to 11 exposures per bracket. You can read more about it, and see some of his great night panoramas, on Joergen's blog.

(The Bracketmeister 0.32, by Joergen Geerds)


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