My HDR “How To Do Stuff (HTDS)” this week is a little different. The various expressions of exposure blending are subtle but distinctive. Today, I’m looking at Nik, Adobe and a little bit of post processing with Gimp.
I decided to give this image a little HDR, “Just Beyond Reality“, punch since the tones and textures just seemed to jump out of the scene. This is what’s inside 309 Middle Street in New Bern NC.
When I first saw my brackets, I got pretty excited. All those highlights and shadows in nine exposures to play with. I usually shoot at full stop intervals. But for these, I chose half stops to gain a little finer transition in light and tone.
I’m starting to enjoy the flexibility that I get with more, closely spaced shots. My workflow is a bit slower but the results give me much more to work with in post processing. I can now increase the blending of transitions in my highlight and shadow areas without risking those abrupt distinctions between them.
The two combined exposure examples below are from Nik HDR Efex Pro and Adobe Photoshop. If you look closely, the Nik version is much more vibrant to start with. But, the Photoshop example has more balance in tonality and lighting. For a purely realistic image, either of these work beautifully, depending on taste. And they’re both perfect for further processing to bring out the personal preferences of the artist. . . like my starting image. As I said, both of these images are pretty nice and if I wanted the most realistic HDR image, I wouldn’t need to do anymore processing. But not today.
- The Nuts and Bolts of Post Processing
Processing: I used the Nik version and made lots of tone mapping enhancements in Nik HDR Efex Pro. As you can see, the colors and visual tonality are pretty far from both of the clean, (out of the box) versions above. I especially concentrated on Structure to get the details that I wanted and used many Control Points to manipulate the lighting and details of the scene. Very little was necessary in Photoshop. Mainly final Curves adjustments and High Pass Filter. And to top it off, I used Transform to get a realistic perspective. Yes, I lost lots of image. But I shot the original knowing that I would be correcting the lines.
The nice thing about working an image like this is that many people would accept it as an un-manipulated photograph.
Equipment used: Nikon D700 with 20-35mm f/3.5-4.5 lens, 20mm, f/4.8, ISO 3200. Handheld.
You don’t hear much about the freeware called Gimp. So, I decided to throw the blended, Photoshop version, into Gimp and do a little enhancement work. Though the software is a little less intuitive, and, in some ways, much more sensitive than Photoshop, it can produce some pretty nice results.
I also managed to remove quite a bit of distortion with Gimp by adjusting the perspective and cropping a bit. It’s actually a pretty good tool. And free at that!