Updated: Friday, 17 Jul 2009, 9:54 AM CDT
Published : Thursday, 16 Jul 2009, 9:59 PM CDT
AUSTIN (KXAN) - The pictures will take your breath away, knock your socks off, blow your mind and stop you dead in your tracks, and there is nothing cliché about them.
They are the result of something called High Dynamic Range, HDR, photography and Austin photographer Trey Ratcliff, 38, is an authority on the matter. His Web site boasts the most popular travel photography blog on the Internet, receiving what he said are 350,000 visits a month. His online portfolio is rich in HDR pieces.
"The way it works is you take multiple pictures of the same scene; let's say five photos, all at different shutter speeds,” said Ratcliff. "The quick shutter speed only lets in a little bit of light; the long shutter speed lets in a lot of light; so that you end up with these five photos at various light levels. The software stacks them all on top of each other, takes out the extreme brights and the extreme darks, and leaves you with this impressionistic hinterland that's somewhere betwixt."
Often as not, photographs taken by most of us, with the best of intentions, nonetheless, result in flat two-dimensional ho-hummers.
"You know, we've all been on vacations; we've all been to places and taken photos, sometimes with nice cameras,” Ratcliff said. "And then we get back and we show the photo to friends or to family, and you say, 'Well, you really had to be there.'"
This man’s photographs, though, virtually erupt in color, depth and vibrancy. You could say they actually, "shimmer." Odd, perhaps, for a man who quite literally sees the world in the same two-dimensional way a camera does. You see, a genetic issue caused Ratcliff to grow up blind in one eye. That, however, did not get in the way of his ability to experience the world around him in the most dynamic of ways.
"I think that anybody who grows up with peculiar circumstances inevitably is able to see the world differently,” he said. "And that gives them an advantage, because if you grow up doing the same thing as everybody else, thinking the same thing as everybody else, learning the same thing as everybody else, you're going to end up like everybody else.That's OK, some people want to fit in, right? Some people want to not be noticed, but I think other people like to be different." Below is a behind-the-scenes interview with Ratcliff:
So after experimenting with a variety of self-expression
endeavors, Ratcliff poured his heart and one remaining eye into HDR
photography. To his amazement, he discovered in the process that
he’s not as unique as he thought.
"I didn't expect that other people would see the world like this, too,” he observed. "I thought I was different, but it turns out that I'm not that different, that a lot of people see the world like this. It's just that nobody has really taken a big effort to make this style of photography popular. I hope to take this HDR idea and I want to take it mainstream. I think it's going to be big."
Ratcliff has a Web site that among other things, offers up a step-by-step tutorial for creating HDR photos. He’s also planning a photo walking tour for early next month. He describes the event this way:
“We are going to have a fun and free photo walk in Downtown Austin! Everyone is welcome, whether you are a beginner, amateur, or professional. Even if you have a dinky little camera that you are not sure how to use, come along and there will be people there to help you out! If it's your first time at one of these, don't be afraid. I find that photographers are some of the kindest and most helpful people around.”
The event is planned for 7:30 p.m., Thursday, August 6, beginning in front of the Driskill Hotel on Sixth Street downtown.