[HDRI] St Lucia Beach

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It had been a long time since I’d been to the beach, so I was excited to get down there as early as possible on the first morning. St Lucia is a place with huge empty beaches, just next to an estuary where hippos, crocodiles and sharks roam the river by day and the small town streets by night. Continue Reading…

[HDRI] St Lucia Interior

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Went on another holiday recently, this time to the small town of St Lucia in KwaZulu Natal. A long drive there, but turned out to be a really nice, simple place.

This pano is of the interior of the room we stayed in for a few days. I figured the opposing sources of cold natural light and warm man-made light was rather nice.

Several great beaches there as well, but you’ll see more of that in the next pano ;)

Also, I’m surprised this one turned out so well, it’s quite a small space with lots of straight lines nearby, I was expecting my lack of a pano head to be a real issue when stitching.

[HDRI] Golden Gate

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Turns out pretty scenery does actually make for nice image-based-lighting ;)

I went on holiday with my family last weekend to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, just North of Lesotho and down the road from Bethlehem (not that one).

I took a crapload of photos that I’ll upload sometime, surprisingly even more than I did when I went to see Rex in Scotland for three weeks (which I suppose I never mentioned here), but that’s probably because many of them were sets of different exposures as well as two (HDR) timelapses and two of these HDR panos (yes, another one coming in a few days alas, that second one failed :/ I accidentally twisted the lens to a higher focal length and thus there was not enough overlap to stitch with)


[HDRI] Parking Lot

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While driving home today I got hit by a giant thunder storm. One of my main roads home along with the nearby parallel ones were flooded, and when the hail started getting bigger I found a parking lot to hide in for a while. It was actually owned by a car wash company, so they let me stay as long as I got a vacuum as well (which was long overdue anyway). While waiting for the storm to die down I grabbed my camera and tripod and took this opportunity for a nice HDR pano.

I’ve found that pretty scenery usually doesn’t make for nice image-based-lighting, so it’s better to keep an eye out for ordinary places that have interesting lighting – under a tree, next to a wall or inside a restaurant. When using these images for lighting, you don’t see the epic landscape reflected in your characters’s eyes, you see the soft diffuse glow of the sky, the warm bounce from the grass and the harsh rays of the sun. In other words, most outdoor IBLs give you the same lighting, especially when you have your own ground plane.

How to Create Your Own HDR Environment Images

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I searched long and hard for a way to create these magical images that light your scenes for you, and I never once found any article or mention of the process in any of the Blender forums. Every time I saw a render using image based lighting (IBL), the artist had always found it on some website (and was usually accompanied by a complaint about how Blender doesn’t give you nice hard shadows).

I’m no expert in this matter, but due to the lack of information that can be found easily, I’d like to share the little that I do know with you.

So in this guide I’ll show you the basics, but it’s up to you and the rest of the community to find out by experience what is good or bad practice and when to ignore everything you’ve ever been taught.

Continue Reading…

First Successful HDR Panorama

For several months (more than a year even?) I’ve been trying on and off to find a way to create HDR panoramas. 360 degree equirectangular panoramic high dynamic range image, to use for lighting.

And recently I’ve finally had success o/

Might be because I’ve got a decent DSLR camera now, or simply that I understand the process a bit better. Either way, expect a whole bunch of these in the future, and some how-to’s (because “tutorial” is too mainstream) on how to make your own on a budget (or no budget at all).

For now, here’s my first successful one:



Test render using only the HDR for lighting

Test render using only the HDR for lighting

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Yes this is my lounge… and yes that is a cat.

One thing this tought me is to pay more attention to white balance. I figured I could just fix that in post, but it’s not as simple as that when theres about 120 images to edit and retain their raw color depth and exif data. The image is a bit more blue than it should be, but lesson learnt!