This kinda artsy HDR image began as a very big mistake. While testing a newly purchased old lens, I was playing with my settings to determine the lens performance at different f/stops and unknowingly got 6 exposures at different aperture and shutter settings. With all of that depth of focus shifting, I didn’t expect to get 6 one ev apart images. So, I just passed on these mostly too dark or too light images.
But, when recently looking through my catalog of old images, I came across this one and decided to see what I could do in a purely artistic mode with no attempt at reality.
Processing: I loaded the six images into Nik HDR Efex Pro for Tone Mapping and started with the Normal preset. I decided to go for a warm, colorful look with more contrast than the original scene had. To get the balance I wanted, I worked with Control Points at each tone of the evergreens and in the upper cherry blossoms area. I added lots of Structure at varying levels to break the monotony of a global sharpening. This gave me just what I wanted as far as tonality.
I prefer to use Adobe Photoshop for Hue/Saturation, Shadow/Highlights and Curve adjustments because of the almost infinite variations available. I added an additional layer and painted a dark vignette for the lower corners with just a small amount for the upper edges and corners. I then blended that layer at about 45% to get the depth that I wanted without being too obvious.
I finally worked with another layer to add highlights to the lighter colored evergreen areas by dodging at about 10%. I find that using very low settings for dodging and burning allows more control while i’m enhancing the lighting of a scene.
So, in the end, this almost, throw away photo, turned into one of my favorite artsy images.
Equipment used: Nikon D700 with Nikkor 70-210mm f4-5.6 lens at 90mm, ISO 200. f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22 with shutter at 1/750, 1/250, 1/60, 1/500, 1/125, 1/30sec. Manfrotto 190XPROB with 486RC2 ball head.