Living Colours with Exilim ZR100 HDR-ART

A photograph is a time machine. It brings us back to the moment we first greeted the world, our important events, milestones, holidays and helps us remember the people in our lives. But more than a memory bank, a photo is also a medium of communicating beauty that has the ability to alter the mood of a viewer.

To me, I think the best photographs are those that seamlessly blend the 2 functions together where the adventures in our lives are captured beautifully. And it need not be difficult. Nor does one need a big camera to do it. A powerful compact camera such as the Casio Exilim ZR100 can do the job more than adequately.

I’ve been using the camera for about 2 weeks now and I must say I’m really impressed at what I could do with it, the ease of use and the quality of images. I’ve shared in my previous post about the HDR mode and how it’s so easy to acquire High Dynamic Range (HDR) shots with just one click. In this post, I’ll go a step further and share with you my experiments with the Casio Exilim ZR100 HDR-ART mode.

What’s the difference between HDR and HDR-ART mode you may ask? Instead of describing it to you in words, I’ll let the photos taken in the HDR-ART mode do the talking. All photos in this post have NOT been post-processed with Photoshop. There’s really no need to with HDR-ART mode anyway.

This photo was taken with the Casio Exilim ZR100 (EX-ZR100 in short) in Auto Mode. The sun was shining at the top right hand corner and I wanted to show the x-ray effect on the leaf caused by the bright light. However, the area of the light source in the photo was burnt-out.

I switched to HDR-ART mode and immediately, the veins of the leaf became more pronounced and the burnt-out spot was eliminated.

As you can see in the above example, the HDR-ART mode saturates the colours in a scene to produce photos that not only reap the benefit of HDR’s ability to balance exposure, but adds an artistic quality to the final image.

What is art is often subjective and open to personal preference, but I think it’s pretty cool that I have a camera that has the potential to artify anything if I choose to without external imaging softwares. This post will share with you the different lighting conditions and subject matters that have been shot in HDR-ART mode and their outcomes. You will see photos taken in that mode during dull skies, a rainy day, sunny day, outdoors, indoors, daily objects, and scenes with strong lighting components.

Visited the Gardens by the Bay during its preview but the sun was on vacation that day. I tried to take a photo of this branchy structure that is one of the icons of the development but it turned out so depressive.

Shot in HDR-ART mode, the colours of the organic tower came to life!

View from my window during a rainy, misty day shot in Auto mode.

Same view shot in HDR-ART mode. The evening sun and dispersing clouds came into focus while streaks of rainfall are visible against the darker green canopies of the trees.

Still on dull grey skies that dominates our November / December weather here in Singapore, this aerial shot of Centrepoint in HDR mode (left) and HDR-ART mode (right) shows the whimsical cartooning effect of the latter mode. HDR-ART mode works well with subjects or scenes with lots of lights. But it can also be an overkill so experiment and determine if the result is to your liking.

Dramatic Photos with Just a Touch

Okay, enough of grey-skied photos. Here’s a collection of shots showing what happens when the situations had been HDR-ARTed!

The sky makes for a great subject to use the HDR-ART mode on especially when there's a sharp contrast. In this photo, the sky seem to form a paw imprint over the Bangkok General Post Office and it reminded me of my 2 lovely dogs at home.

HDR-ART captured the gloriousness of a sunny day at Merlion Park spined by the Singapore CBD skyline. Personally, I find that the HDR-ART is not suitable for scenes with a lot of elements as they fight for attention. This scene somehow worked but there were many that were deleted because they were too busy for the eyes in HDR-ART mode.

Visage of Bangkok's CentralWorld office wing. This was taken with HDR-ART mode's Level 1 strength in colour saturation and I thought the photo looks very natural as the ART mode can make things look rather artificial at times.

From the exterior of buildings, I tested HDR-ART on the interior of buildings such as this photo of the Suvarnabhumi Airport. I love how the colours looks so natural at Level 1 saturation in HDR-ART mode.

Another interior architectural shot. This time of in-building decorations such as the cyclical art installation at the foyer of Novena Square. the cyclical installation at the foyer of Novena Square.

Fly Awaves. Initially, I couldn't decide if this pic was taken in the HDR-ART mode because the colours looked so natural. Then I consulted other photos I took of this scene in other modes (Auto and HDR) and I confirmed this is HDR-ART because the colours were more vivid compared to the others.

Exterior of my office. I wanted to see how HDR-ART performs in a scene like this with strong and muted colours. The earthy hues remained sombre but the pinkish highlights of the floral motifs were given a flourescent fushia upgrade!

Having looked at how HDR-ART bring out the colours of scenic and architectural subjects, the following photos will demonstrate how this mode performs with daily life objects and when used during the night.

Strong primary colours get wildly accented in the HDR-ART mode. Here's an example of how the pink flowers of a dwarf frangipani (kalachuchi) was made louder in this mode!

Asian profusion of sleeping beauty or Ai Li in Wonderland?

My newly acquired radio bag from Jatuchak Market. Love how the HDR-ART mode made it look so retrolicious and funky-cool!

Shot taken below my flat. My family and neighbourhood is my circle of life.

Here’s a tip you should know. The HDR-ART mode offers the flexibility of controlling the level of colour saturation. The preceding photos were taken with varying strengths of colouration but I couldn’t recall what I used in most of them. So I decided to chart the differences between the various levels in the following photos. In the HDR-ART mode, you can decide between a level of 1 to 3 for how artified you want your photos to look.

As a general observation, I realise that focusing improves with the higher saturation level (that is, Level 3) as more of the subject is in focus. Level 1 is good for having just an element closest to the camera sharp while the rest of the subject gets blurred. Look at the clarity of the green glass piece in the above photos to get what I mean. Level 1 has more of the lantern out-of-focus while keeping green section relatively clear. Overall sharpness is achieved with Level 3.

However, this is used indoors on a single object. I think Level 1 is great for taking HDR-ART shots of landscape and buildings to give them stronger colours yet looking natural. Looking at all the photos on this post again, can you identify which were shot with Level 1, 2 or 3?

HDR-ART mode loves the light. No better time to use it than this Christmas! I call this shot, the Infinity of Creativity with HDR-ART!

With Casio Exilim ZR100 HDR-ART mode, colours go on steriods to create photos that are not just a mere record of things happened and seen, but opens up an artistic realm. Sorta like Andy Warhol’s famous pop-art treatment to a can of Campbell Soup and Marilyn Monroe. Oh, I didn’t put up photos of people taken in the HDR-ART mode because I felt they look rather weird. Maybe it’s the model (me) and not the camera’s fault. LOL.

HDR-ART mode is highly addictive as anything can be photographed with unexpected colour results. I love taking a photo in this mode and then waiting for the image to be processed in the camera. The wait is like unwrapping a present because I don’t know what to expect of the outcome. And because I cannot predict what a photo will look like, it spurs me to try shooting everything and be spontaneous.

To me, that’s what photography should be and all about… spontaneity, having fun and breaking free from photographic traditions. With HDR-ART, we could just very well be the next Andy Warhol!

For more photos taken with the camera, please visit my album A Month with Casio Exilim ZR100.

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