Readers take on HDR Processing (More Images added)

Thankfully a few brave souls sent in their versions of the Automobile images I shot for out Shooting Automobiles Tutorial.

Ken L

The first comes from fellow photographer and great friend Ken L.

Ken reminded me that HDR doesn’t have to be in color at all in fact it can look awesome in B & W. He also reminded me that it may be time to do a tutorial ON B & W conversion methods for those that haven’t ventured there.

Here is Ken’s take on both HDR Processing and B & W












Ken found good tonal balance for the Truck and also has great contrast WITH detail in the mountains which was hard to get.

One thing really cool is. Ken seamlessly MOVED the watermark to the side of the image away from the center that I had placed it. Ken also cropped the image a little more widescreen in aspect ratio for emphasis.

Ken, besides being a great photographer is also a Lightroom Expert so if you have questions about that program , he is the go to guy.

Thanks  Ken!

Miguel P 

The next set of three images come from Miguel P.

Miguel attacked it from a few different angles which I really like. It shows that there is no one way to do anything and everyone has different styles and tastes which keeps the world from becoming boring.  For this exercise Miguel Chose to instead use Nik’s HDR Efex Pro which was a great choice. I will let Miguel own words describe some of the things he did.

This is Miguel’s “Baseline”  image 












“Baseline: This was the image straight out of Nik’s software. At first, I was just going to use the settings that you gave us, but then I decided to start from scratch and play around a little bit. “
Next Miguel was also smart enough to take that Baseline image and do a B & W conversion
“Black and White: I’ve read/heard that HDR’s can be converted into some great BW, so I gave it a shot. I’m not sure that I’m 100% happy with the shot as it still looks a little flat and I can’t figure out why. I feel that the car doesn’t really pop away from the background.”
Notice how different Miguel’s B & W look than Ken’s. This is because there can be just as many ways to convert to B & W as there are to do HDR tone mapping. To answer Miguel. That’s a very common thing to happen with B & W conversions.
 When we have Color in an image, sometimes the color alone is what provides that separation OR draws the eye to something. In  a photograph the first thing the eye is drawn to is the brightest object in the image, secondly the eye is drawn to certain colors, Shades of Red, Yellow and Orange draw the eye first and cause excitement, Shades of Blue and Green Less so and are more calming.
 But, when you take away the color you are only left with tone. So the eye would look for the brightest object or areas of contrast firsts. It’s why not every image converts well. But the other thing is you may have to increase the contrast in a B & W over the color version. Since the color may provide some separation in the image that tone alone as it is can’t. I’ll show you how to do that when I do the B & W tutorial.
Last is Miguel’s Final Version is his fully finished color HDR conversion which he took farther than I did…And I am glad. It shows the possibilities and the artistic styles that people have or are possible.
“Color: Ok, I may have gone a little overboard here, but I like it! I did a bit of dodging and burning on the car. I also used a high pass sharpening on the entire image, added a black layer mask, and then painted in areas that I thought needed a little more “grunge”. I also saturated the mountains a little bit 🙂
One thing that I did notice is that HDR’s really bring out any sort of sensor dust that you have in the camera. There was some up in the skies, and a couple of dots on the car itself. I also noticed that the sky was very grainy (I still don’t know how to make skies look good when using HDR!), so I used the clarity slider in Lightroom (set to -50) and painted over the sky.”
I like it too Miguel. I think it was really done well in that it goes farther to one end ( Grunge/painterly) but doesn’t get silly and has a full range of tones.
Skies are indeed one of the hardest parts to get right and are often what HDR programs get wrong. There are some tools to get them better such as using the Highlight Smoothing in Photomatix but sometimes that can’t get it right. On occasion  when a sky is that important to me in the image  I have replaced the entire sky with one of my other exposures that gets it right. The handling of highlights is one of the things that HDR doesn’t always get right. It was something I discussed with Nik when I talked with them.
As far as sensor spots go, the HDR process itself does seem to bring them out. But the biggest culprit actually is using tight apertures (f/16 etc) Most sensor spots are not visible in image shot at more Normal apertures. But when we stop down the dof itself will make the spot way more visible. In fact if you want to check your sensor for dust, set your aperture to f/22 and shoot a plain cloudless blue sky. You will see every speck on that sensor. Change the aperture to f/6.3 and I bet you don’t see one.

Duane W

Duane W sent in these two images
Duane went for a much more subduded natural look here. He said “After doing my normal work flow.   I used some additional gradient layers in both versions to help bring out the details.”

Looks good Duanne. The only thing I might change on the B & W is on the hood windshield area, it appears dark. This could be a difference in monitor calibration betwen the two of us.
So thanks to Ken , Miguel and Duanne for contributing their images, Really some great work here and I can’t thank you guys enough for taking the time
 There is still time for YOU to send yours in. I will add to the post as I get others in so you are NOT too late

One Comment

  1. Miguel Palaviccini October 28, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Thanks for the post. Really liked the explanation of what your eye is drawn to when color is and isn’t available!

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