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The Viking Ship, Gokstad

Taken during my visit to Norway earlier this year,  the restored/preserved Viking ship,  Gokstad.   One of three 9th century Viking ships found in the late 19th-early 20th centuries and now on display at the Vikingskiphuset (Viking Ship Museum) on the Bygdoy Peninsula,  Oslo.

It's believed that the ship was built between 885 and 892 AD,  a period when the Vikings were busy exploring,  trading and plundering,  and could be either sailed or rowed.   With 16 oar holes on either side,  it's likely to have had a crew of 34 including a helmsman and a lookout,  and is constructed of oak and pine.  (further reading: http://www.khm.uio.no/english/visit-us/viking-ship-museum/)

As a photographic subject it provides some challenges mostly because of the huge contrast range.  The walls of the museum are painted white,  there is light streaming in through the windows and the timbers of the boat are almost black.    I decided that HDR would probably be required to get the kind of image I wanted and so took 3 bracketed images at 2 stop increments.    All camera settings were locked down with only the shutter speeds changing between the individual frames.   1/15th,  1/60th and 1/250th second.

HDR has been given a bad rap in some quarters, its misuse and abuse giving rise to the dreadful "Harry Potter" look.  My objective here was to arrive at an image which contains a pleasing range of tones,  which couldn't have been achieved in a single exposure,  but which remains faithful to the actual scene.   Indeed,  I wonder how many readers would suspect the image was HDR had I not openly acknowledged it?   You'll notice that there are areas of the image where highlights are blown out,  but I'm comfortable with that.  Those areas represent the strong lighting flowing into the scene through the museum windows and in reality appeared glary to the human eye.

Image processing was quiet simple.   The three frames were each given nothing other than a profiled lens correction in Lightroom before being opened in Photoshop.   Once in Photoshop,  I took the images into Nik HDR Efex where I chose one of the monochrome presets,  applied some localized contrast control to the boat itself,  converted the file from 32 bit back to 16 bit,  sized, applied a text layer (got to remind people whose image it is! ;-) ) sharpened,  and outputted as a jpeg for web presentation.

The Viking Ship, Gokstad
The Viking Ship, Gokstad

Canon 5d Mk2 20mm F8, ISO 3200 20mm shutter speeds 1/15 to 1/250 second.   Processed in Nik HDR Efex.