I know, I know, this isn’t really too artsy, or heck, even fartsy, but I’ve been having so much fun with my new digital SLR camera that I had to share. Here’s some tests I’ve been doing with creating my own HDR (high dynamic range) images and using them to light scenes in Maya.
First I took a chrome Christmas ball outside and took some pictures of it. I took anywhere from 3 to 7 exposures of each picture in RAW format.
Then using Photoshop’s Merge To HDR function, I combined all the RAW images into one HDR image. HDR images have a much larger range of values and color information than a regular digital image. More information than is visible to the naked eye even. But a 3d program can see it, and use it!
Then I cropped out just the Xmas ball spheres. Having an image of an environment in this spherical format provides much more information than just a single flat frame.
Next I made a really simple scene in Maya to test the image based lighting with. Three basic primitive shapes sitting on a plane. Here’s what it looks like with just some generic lighting.
And here it is using the image above to light it. What a difference!
Then I started swapping in some of the other hdr images I’d created.
Wow, what a change! This is from indoor shots of our living room with just the Christmas tree lights and the TV turned on. Note the bright white reflection in the cube, coming from the backside of the sphere, which is getting it from the bright light from the TV.
Here’s a panorama photo of our living room that the image lighting was based on (click it for a bigger version).
Then I took this spherical photo of our living room with the normal room lights turned on.
And here’s a render of the same scene using that image for the lighting.
Anyway, I’ll be incorporating more hdr image based lighting in my 3d work as I experiment with this more (and thanks to my buddy Josh W. for getting me excited about digital photography!)