First of all, we need to make a disclaimer. This is not the process we use on all of our HDR images, but it's a good starting point to begin thinking about how an HDR workflow could work within your operating environment. In this instance, we specifically did not export to Photoshop, but used Lightroom for pre & post processing with Photomatix Pro. We choose to highlight this workflow, because after polling our followers on Facebook, we found that most use Lightroom for post processing. We wanted to stick with relevant examples for our readers during this part of the series. So focus on what is being done to the photographs - not exactly where it's being done at. We'll continue to discuss HDR processing in future articles.
So, let's get started on our journey through the workflow used to create 'Photo Finish - HDR'...
We are going to focus on what workflow we are using, not specifically what settings in this article. We could create an article on each of these sections with specific settings if we chose to - BUT let's look at the BIG picture first! There are a million books that you can look at to get more specific information, and we've listed those at the end of this article for your purchasing pleasure.
- Import from Camera:
After doing that, we open Lightroom and import from our hard drive folder, "Photos to Import" with some standard metadata, copyright info, keywords, and initiate an immediate backup copy to an external hard drive during the import process. This can all be handled in your "File Handling" and "Apply During Import" settings in Lightroom. After previewing three different brackets of the final 'Photo Finish - HDR' photographs within the Library Module of Lightroom, we choose a 3 exposure bracket to work with. Since we used our Canon camera, that bracket ended up being a -2ev, 0ev, and +2ev set using standard Canon AEB settings.
- Lightroom Preprocessing:
Sounds simple, right? Well, it is - preprocessing is really only adjusting basic items that get you to a base setting before exporting to Photomatix Pro.
- Exporting to Photomatix Pro:
- Photomatix Pro Manipulation:
When you are done, save the file and re import back into Lightroom.
- Lightroom Postprocessing Technique:
As we stated early, there are a variety of ways to do this. You could possibly use Adobe Photoshop CS5 or Nik Software Complete Collection (specifically Viveza), but in this case, like most of our readers, we will stick to Lightroom. In the Curve Adjustment box in the Curves drop down menu there are several preset options including Medium and Strong Contrast that you could choose. None of these exactly worked on this image, so I just made my own small "s" contrast curve.
What we also found was that the "whole" image did not fit the desired feel we were looking for, so we cropped the photograph into the 5X15 aspect ratio to achieve the final image of our choice. Two cars, fall foliage brightly lit by the sun, and beautiful contrast amongst the evergreens without the additional visibility of dead evergreen trees in the foreground and a lot more blue from the sky above.
And with the luck of the Irish, the public has agreed that the final image was visually appealing. Then the marketing begins, but that, as they say, is another story...
We hope you enjoyed Part III of this series on High Dynamic Range (HDR). And while you are at it, join us on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ , or sneak a peek at our own photography on Dakota Visions Photography, LLC. Until next time, we'll see you behind the lens...
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