Frozen Waterfall (Panorama)

Starved Rock Park, Illinois, USA

While in graduate school, some friends of mine and I visited Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. We wondered around the park for a while, exploring some of the many trails. It should be clear from the photograph that we visited the park during the winter. I had heard there were several interesting rock formations and some waterfalls in the park, so I brought my camera along with me. And, I am glad that I did.

We were following one of the streams up through a rock formation. It was fairly slow going for some portions since we found ourselves walking on the frozen over stream. In this photo, for example, the rocks come up directly on either side of the stream. The white at the bottom is the ice with a bit of snow that has settled on top of the ice. During the summer months, this would be a flowing stream of water.

The sky was basically clear, so it was a fairly bright and sunny day. Of course, the rock formations affected this, given that the canyon walls were blocking entire regions of the sky. The snow and ice is fairly reflective as well, creating some relatively bright areas against some of the darker, non-reflective rocks along the walls. The overall result is that there was a wide range of light in this scene. As such, high dynamic range (HDR) techniques were used to take this photo.

Starved Rock State Park

This photograph was taken at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois. The park has some rather interesting rock formations that many people would not normally associate with Illinois. When most people think of Illinois, they probably think of endless, flat fields of corn and wheat.

The park has many trails and multiple waterfalls. If you are a fan of visiting parks and live near the area, or happen to find yourself near the area, the park is worth a visit.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography

In high dynamic range photography, the scene being photographed is captured at multiple levels of light (exposures). This allows all portions of the scene, whether they are bright or dark, to be captured with sufficient detail in at least one of the different exposures. The brightest exposures provide detail in the darker areas of the scene, but wash out the brighter areas. Meanwhile, the darkest exposures provide detail in the brightest areas of the scene, but the darker areas are quite dim and hard to see.

Later during post-processing, the different exposures are combined using software to create a single high dynamic range image. The resulting HDR image includes all the details from across the scene, regardless of bright or dark areas particular portions of the scene were.

It is also common to remap the HDR image back into a standard dynamic range (SDR) image using a method known as tone mapping. Depending on the tone mapping method used, the resulting SDR image may look either realistic or unrealistic. Tone mapping is often necessary to share photos taken using HDR techniques since many of the most common image formats only support SDR.

More high dynamic range photographs I have taken can be found here.


I really enjoy capturing high resolution panoramas. Commonly, I'll also make use of high dynamic range techniques when shooting panoramas. When shooting panoramas, I am most likely doing so while shooting landscapes. However, in some cases, I combine images simply to make larger resolution photographs. I have even used it while doing macro photography in a few cases.

Here are some more panoramas that I have taken.