I’ll start this rant off with my usual disclaimer: Artistic Intent, I don’t care what you do to your image provided it was Artistic Intent. Backwards, inside out and purple…fine if that’s was your intent. It’s when you did it because you didn’t know any better, that’s when I have a problem and I’m here to help.
My two biggest pet peeves in HDR images are; Halos and Gray Clouds that should be white. The funny thing is, most likely the same thing is responsible for both.
It’s a very simple fix but one that a lot of people don’t seem to either know about or even want to fix. But it certainly drives me nuts. Now I am not talking about gray storm clouds and having them mean and menacing-looking, as is possible in HDR images. I’m talking about beautiful white puffy clouds on a fair weather day being turned gray by over-processing the image. You may, as this image shows, also have some graying to the blue sky and some black halos around the clouds- all of them undesireable
It seems to be more pronounced in Photomatix possibly than other programs but certainly possible in all and it has a simple cause and a simple fix.
The reason the clouds look gray is that the image’s tonal range has been completely compressed to that of a mid-tone. When you make white a midtone…it turns to gray. Simple as that.
To fix it, is just as simple, Turn down your strength, use a more natural Lighting setting. That’s all you have to do. You can up your detail or saturation or whatever you want to do, but use these control judiciously. Oh and I bet your Halos take a vacation too.
Hope that helps,