For my purposes, HDR processing is successful if the viewer is not sure if it was used. Lets call this HDR Lite.
I have been working on a project to photograph Ontario’s waterfalls, and often these images have a large dynamic range. Consider that these images my be required to record the near white of the water to the near black of rock crevices and it is easy to see that it could be a problem for any camera.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing is designed to tackle this type of problem, it is a process where a series is taken of the same scene with a range of exposures. An example may be three images taken at -1, regular, and +1 exposure. These are then combined in the computer for a composite image. I use Photomatix for this.
Above are the base exposures used at -2,0,+2 exposure (You can click on them for a large resolution). While I didn’t want an extreme example of HDR processing, I did want to bring out the natural fall colors as well as the complete dynamic range. Photomatix has different processing methods available but each on their own was not what I was looking for. Lets take a look.
The above image is the result of using Details Enhancer at the default settings. I like the foliage detail it has brought out but it lacks contrast and is too light.
This image above was processed using the Tone Compressor method. I like the contrast and color but it is too dark and lacks detail.
Lets see if we can get this porridge just right. I opened both images in Photoshop and copied one as a layer to the other. I then adjusted the Opacity of the second layer to incorporate the best features of each image. This can range from 30-70% but often I find I am happy with it at 50%.
For waterfalls, HDR processing has a bonus in that it gives the water a nice blur.
Thanks for reading this, I hope you find it useful.
Processing Tutorials Index
All Images are Available for Licensing at Singular Video&Pix