Readers Challenge – The Entries

Here are the entries for the HDR Reader Chalenge

Entry 1: Brian R

Peter I used images 3, 4, & 5

In lightrooom3 cropped the vignette off then processed in Photomatix 4.  Here is my settings: Details Enhancer,  Strength 94, Saturation 56, Luminosity 1.7, Details Contrast 4.6, Lighting Adjustment – Natural.  In PSE9 I clone dust spots and lens flare. Used Noiseware to smooth the sky.  Back in Lightroom used selection brush to increase the saturation on the horizion.

Thanks for the project.

Brian R

 Entry 2: Joseph B

Hey Peter, here is my take on your images. There are so many ways this image could’ve gone. Mild or wild. I guess mine goes more into the wild? It’s something different for sure. So, here’s what I did:
I used all six images
Here’s the interesting part, I actually used the Enhancer Painterly preset!
     Preset adjustments:
     Temperature: -4.1
     Saturation Highlights: 10
     Saturation Shadows: 8.0.
Here’s the main body of the work.
Exposure: -0.75
Fill Light: +33
Blacks: +5
Contrast: +35
Clarity: +40
Vibrance: +25
Tone Mapping: Darks +30
Sharpening: +25 @ 1.5 radius
Noise Reduction/Luminace: +15
Post Crop Vignetting: +5 on Color Priority
Crop (adjusted a number of times throughout – really should’ve waited to the end)
Photoshop Elements:
Spot Removal of dust spots
Clone some of the lens flares
5% burn on the ground area
Leveled the image
Added a graduated filter for the sky area with +0.78 exposure setting and color cast (purpleish)
Added a second graduated filter for the lower right corner with -0.39 exposure setting to bring down the brightness of the corner ground.
I looked at the image and saw the artifacts on the sides. I’m assuming this is some form of Peripheral Lens Distortion? Pincushion? I don’t get this with my 18-55mm lens at 18mm, but I’m also using a crop sensor so I assume I wouldn’t since I’m really at about 28.8mm. I looked at the exif data and saw that they were all shot at 17mm and the images all appeared to be well aligned, indicating they were shot with a tripod. However, there were some alignment issues observed when Photomatix processed the images. Therefore, the equipment mistake made I would assume would not be adjusting the camera settings for PLD correction? I think newer cameras can do that. Mine can’t so I’m not sure. If it isn’t that, the only other thing I could think of is some form of distortion cause by an attached filter since you’re at the lens’ wide end.
I did start thinking about PLD potentially being a problem towards the end of my play on your images. I took one of them into Lightroom and applyed PLD correction which seemed to correct most of it. Well, that was just damn smart of me, I do it AFTER I’m almost finished with the image, and well beyond recovery, so there was no way in hell I was going to start over! LOL. Instead I just cropped it out. I know, my workflow sucks. I need to work on that!
Oh, and THANKS for featuring my image. I’m STOKED!
Joseph B

Entry 3: Robert Mc

1. Dirt on Lens, Filter, or Sensor
2. Cropped Picture to remove Filter Holder (?) on left and right of frame and tighten scene on bottom.
3. Removed flare on filter or lens from the setting (?) sun.
4. Was that Death Valley by any chance.
5. I used Corel PaintShop Pro X4 to process the files
Thanks for the challenge.
Rob Mc

Entry 4: Miguel P

Alright, here goes … With all of the texture in the rocks, I had a feeling I wanted to convert this to a black and white. I noticed that the lens hood must have been a little loose and therefore caused the left and right edges to vignette quite a bit. I decided right away that I would crop the image at the end to remove this.
1) I used Nik HDR to combine all six images and then tonemapped. I tried several combinations of exposures but decided that I like the result with all of the images the best. I tried a couple of the built in presets, but decided that I really liked the default with a couple of minor adjustments.
2) The next step was to take the image into photoshop to get rid of all of those sensor dust spots! I’m not surprised that they were present since you shot at f/22. I asked myself why not shoot at f/8 (where you would have gotten the same sharpness with the right focus), but then I saw the sun – the starbust!
3) Since I know that I wanted this to be a Black and White, I decided that it needed a bit more contrast. I was already in photoshop, so I added a curves adjustment layer. I used the black and white eyedropper tools to select the darkest and lightest sections of the image. This added quite a bit of contrast – too much for a color photo, but I know that BW images eat up contrast, so I kept it.
4) I then did a quick desaturation layer (not the best way to do a black and white, but I’m still learning!). The sky looked nice, but the mountains were a bit flat. I tried adding more contrast, but settled on a sharpening layers (which actually brought up the contrast in the midtones, just what it needed!). I added a layer mask so that the sharpening was only applied to the mountains.
5) The last thing I did was dodge and burn. I liked the trail on the left side of the image that led to the sun, so I dodged it a bit on a separate layer. I wanted to add a bit more ‘drama’ so I burned some of the ‘valleys’ on the right side of the image.
6) Last thing I did was crop the image to remove the edge vignetting.
That’s it!
Miguel P

Entry 5: Ann H

I’ve attached my take on your photograph.  I used #2,4 and 6 with Photomatix Pro.  My settings were Strength 90, Color Sat 75, Luminosity 5.0, Microcontrast 5.5, Low smoothing, Light mode, white point .457, Black point .092, Gamma 1.30.  Then I took it to Photoshop and adjusted the levels, did a 30% opacity multiply layer and cropped the right and left edges off.  I don’t know what that was, and hope that what you were referring to about the equipment mistake.  It looked to me like you were shooting through something and didn’t completely get it out of the way of the shot.
I’m anxious to see everyone elses adjustments, and really like this exercise!  Thank you!
Ann H

Entry 6: Stephen P

Here is my take at your desert (sunset?) scene.  I only used the middle 4 images of the 6, because the brightest exposure was unnecessary (the shadows were already all captured in the 5th image) and the darkest exposure didn’t change the result (I tried both ways).  It looks like you used a polarizer/UV filter with your 17-40mm lens, and at 17mm the edge of the filter showed up in the frame.  It also looks like you need to clean you sensor 😉
My process:
  1. Crop all images to correct for the filter
  2. Exported the middle 4 images to Photomatix Pro 4.0
  3. Tone Mapped to my liking.
  4. Saved this image.
  5. Tone mapped again!
  6. Saved this image.
  7. Brought both images into LR3 and processed, adding contrast, clarity, vibrance, and warmth.
  8. Cleaned up all the dust in the sky and the lens flare on the mountain.
  9. Exported 2 images to CS5.
  10. Blended the sky from the single tone mapped image to the ground in the double tone mapped image using a gradient mask.
  11. Added a little vignetting.
  12. Resized and saved.
I hope you like my result.  It may be a little extreme, but I think the detail in the mountains in the foreground needed to be shown off.
Stephen P

Entry 7: Duane W

What I did in review:
I only used 3 of the images (3,4 and 5) and processed them in Photomatix first, I had the image processed and by mistake I double processed the image and like what I saw.
Then used Photoshop and did some of my normal post processing.  Used Levels adjustments, Cropping, fixed Dust spots.  I then used some Gradiant layers to enhance the photo and midtones.  Then brought it into Lightroom and did some nosie correction and some other minor adjustments.
For the extra point:
I removed the black lines caught on the sides of the images.  What I think caused this issue is a sync issue and it captured the edges of the shutter curtains.  You may have had a flash or wireless transmitter on the hotshoe that was turned on by mistake, so it was trying to sync the speed and was off a little.
Thanks for doing this exercise. Have not been able to get out and do any shooting, so this was a good way to get back into my post processing skills.
Duane W

Entry 8: John Mac

 I used files 1-5. I Enfused them in LR3 and saved a TIF. I imported that TIF into LR4 Beta. I cropped the sides and applied these settings:

Contrast +35
Highlights -100
Blacks -5
Clarity +100
Vibrance +65
Lights: +10
Darks -10
Sharpening – Narrow Edges (Scenic) preset
Distortion: 100
Vignetting: 20
“Sky” above sun:
Exposure: -.33
Clarity: 30
“Foreground” below sun
Clarity 20
“Foreground” bottom 1/3
Exposure: -.33
“Central” area
Contrast 25
Flow 20 (not full density)
“Lead in Path”
Exposure -.33
Flow 20 (not full density)
Thanks everyone for submitting their great images for the challenge. You certainly didn’t make it easy for me to pick, nor did I make it easy for you. It’s really hard to edit an image that you weren’t there to see what the scene actually looked like, You could just get a few clues from the setting sun, but other than that, did you know if the sky was blue or hazy white? How dark was it in the crevasse?
Plus the other thing that made this difficult was that it was not well shot at all. It was shot just 5 minutes too late after the better sun light that illuminated some of the badlands was now gone as the sun got too low in the horizon and was blocked to the canyon area below my position. A shot just done a few minutes earlier was a much better shot.
Plus having the sun in the image always makes it harder, do you keep the Star pattern, as Miguel pointed out a result of using f/22, a aperture usually not recommended, or do you blow it out for more of an “As the eyes sees” effect.
So with the little you had to work with, you all did a great job.
OK, for tonight I will answer who got the extra credit question right. Which was” There  is a mistake in the image caused by a error in equipment, what was it?”
No one fully got it right but you were all on the right track. Again this is something too difficult for anyone to get. So yes, it was a trick question but you all did know mostly the reason.
Earlier in the Day I was shooting with both my 17-40L and my 24-105L and I was using a Cokin Grad ND Filter. Which made me take off the Lens shade on both lenses. Well later in my rush to get to my spot for the sunset, I grabbed the wrong shade for my 17-40 lens. so the longer shade from the 24-105 is what you see blocking the sides of the image and causing that harsh Vignette.
Well, it’s late and I’m going to make you wait till tomorrow or really later today to tell you the winner and show you my version of the image.
Let me sleep on this and I will tell you later today who won.
Thanks again everyone!


  1. Miguel Palaviccini February 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Can’t wait to hear who you choose as the winner … and really want to see your processed image!

    • Peter February 26, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      Coming up in a bout 5 minutes, I was sick today so I’m late posting it

  2. Dave April 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    It’s fascinating all the looks from the same set of images.
    I wonder how many times I’ve missed an awesome image by not seeing it in the raw files!

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