Water, Statues, Flora and HDR

This week I got to take yet another photo walk with some great photographers and this time we got the best weather and some awesome photo ops.  The place we went to was so huge that I didn’t get the chance to see everything nor take all the pictures I had wanted to.  But that just means another visit perhaps later in the year when fall comes around

Where was this place I speak of you ask?  Well for those native to the New Jersey area, you may be familiar with Duke Estates in Hillsborough.  This is 2,000 acres of walking, biking, photography goodness.  But you can click on the link for more info.  Why put out spoilers?

I came fully prepared to take different types of photos and as most of you saw in my last blog post, I basically stuck with long exposures.  This time I wasnt sure what to expect so when we arrived at the farm and I saw how the weather looked, I kinda had HDR in mind.  Having a camera that can do up to 7 bracketed shots had me hoping for some good opportunities.  So lets take a look at what I was able to capture.

The mini waterfall

As we entered the walk path around the estate we came across this small lake and waterfall. My friend Khurt had just recently purchased a 10 stop ND filter for his camera and wanted to take some test shots just to get familiar with how to set up his aperture, and shutter.  I gave him some review of an app for ios called photo pills which he immediately downloaded but really didn’t have time to figure out.  So I just called up my trusty app for ND filter calculations and we did some experimenting with his camera till he got that perfect shot. So…I guess I might as well do the same before we headed deeper into the estate.  My shot wasn’t really as long as his (his was a 20 second shot, mine was more like 1/8th).  When I got home and looked at it, I immediately saw no color (still waiting for the greenery to emerge here in NJ) and just converted it to B&W.  This was touched up with OnOne Perfect Effects.


The lonely daffodil

A little further up the path we came upon this one lone daffodil.  Seemed like a good shot with a little more color than my waterfall.  Tripod out and low I went ahead and did a 3 shot bracketed.  I had to really focus my efforts on using rule of 3rd.  I think this one works nicely with the rule.  HDR done with Photomatix Pro 5




Moving along we come to an area where Doris Duke decided to place a sculpture garden.  The quality of work on these sculptures was exquisite.  Although not HDR I did use Perfect Effects to bring out and accentuate some of the highlights of these beauties.  Photos really can’t do them justice.  You just have to go visit them for yourself.

The estate also has its own greenhouse with an abundance of orchids and other flora.  I did what I could with my trusty 24-70 f2.8L.  This was a place where a 100mm macro really would have came in handy.  So we have seen 3 out of the 4 items in my blog title.


By this time the weather was getting pretty warm and folks were getting hungry so before we ended our day at the estate we were able to make it to the clock tower.  Here is where I felt I could get the best HDR shot since I could see the shadows next to the building and the highlights of the sky around us.  It wasnt quite high noon but fortunately the sun was not directly hitting us, so no harsh light to really worry about.

This was done with 5 bracketed shots about 1 stop apart.  I didnt want to go surreal HDR so I tried to keep it a bit more natural but still give it some pop. In my haste to post this up on the internet, I forgot to do a little tilt alignment so bad on me for being a little over anxious.  I will be going back to this picture to straighten out the tower.

Overall an excellent day when it comes to April weather, plenty of attendees on this walk which made discussing our skills so much more invigorating and just trying out some new ways of doing long exposure and HDR.


Avid amateur photographer always looking to enhance my skills and to learn from others through workshops, photowalks and just meeting up.

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