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 isnothing cliché about them.
They are the result of something called HighDynamic Range, HDR, photography and Austin photographer TreyRatcliff, 38, is an authority on the matter. His Web siteboasts the most popular travel photography blog on the Internet,receiving what he said are 350,000 visits a month. His onlineportfolio is rich in HDR pieces.
"The way it works is you take multiple pictures of the samescene; let's say five photos, all at different shutterspeeds,” said Ratcliff. "The quick shutter speed only lets ina little bit of light; the long shutter speed lets in a lot oflight; so that you end up with these five photos at various lightlevels. The software stacks them all on top of each other, takesout the extreme brights and the extreme darks, and leaves you withthis impressionistic hinterland that's somewhere betwixt."
Often as not, photographs taken by most of us, with the best ofintentions, nonetheless, result in flat two-dimensionalho-hummers.
"You know, we've all been on vacations; we've all been to placesand taken photos, sometimes with nice cameras,” Ratcliffsaid. "And then we get back and we show the photo to friends or tofamily, 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 sametwo-dimensional way a camera does. You see, a genetic issue causedRatcliff to grow up blind in one eye. That, however, did not get inthe way of his ability to experience the world around him in themost dynamic of ways.
"I think that anybody who grows up with peculiar circumstancesinevitably is able to see the world differently,” he said."And that gives them an advantage, because if you grow up doing thesame thing as everybody else, thinking the same thing as everybodyelse, learning the same thing as everybody else, you're going toend 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 peoplelike to be different." Below is a behind-the-scenes interview withRatcliff:
So after experimenting with a variety of self-expressionendeavors, Ratcliff poured his heart and one remaining eye into HDRphotography. To his amazement, he discovered in the process thathe’s not as unique as he thought.
"I didn't expect that other people would see the world likethis, too,” he observed. "I thought I was different, but itturns out that I'm not that different, that a lot of people see theworld like this. It's just that nobody has really taken a bigeffort to make this style of photography popular. I hope to takethis HDR idea and I want to take it mainstream. I think it's goingto be big."
Ratcliff has a Web site that among other things, offers up astep-by-step tutorial for creating HDR photos. He’s alsoplanning a photo walking tour for early next month. He describesthe event this way:
“We are going to have a fun and free photo walk inDowntown Austin! Everyone is welcome, whether you are a beginner,amateur, or professional. Even if you have a dinky little camerathat you are not sure how to use, come along and there will bepeople there to help you out! If it's your first time at one ofthese, don't be afraid. I find that photographers are some of thekindest 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 Streetdowntown.
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