HDR Process (Red Barn)

I love Fall… it’s probably my favorite season. Not too hot, not too cold, at least in Wisconsin…

Fall should be a great time for outdoor photography, what with the colors and all, but this year, I just didn’t manage to get out in time to capture the magic of the trees, but I did make it out to Lapham Peak (this sounds more pathetic if you know that I live about a mile from it) for a few shots. This is one of them…

Red Barn

For the nerds in the crowd, my workflow for an image like this is such: I use a tripod to shoot multiple exposures (all in RAW) and then when I process the shots I choose the one that is properly exposed, as well as one that is overexposed, and one that is underexposed, and run those three images through Qtpfsgui to create an HDR image (HDR stands for High Dynamic Range) and tonemap it. The thing about HDR is that you can achieve some really amazing things, but you can also create some really cheesy images, so the trick is to not overdo it.

HRD Process

Once I’ve got an HDR image that is tonemapped, and looks very… uh, HDR, I then output that image for later. I’ll then go back to my original properly exposed shot, open that in Photoshop, and bring the tonemapped HDR shot in, and place it on top of the normal shot. For this one, I ended up putting it at 50% opacity, but you’ll need to eyeball it. I also added another layer, consisting of the grass in the foreground. Grass tends to really stand out in HDR images.

HDR Photoshop

Once I’m happy with the image, I just save it out as JPG and call it a day. The purpose here it to get the detail that HDR gives you, without getting the “overdone” HDR look, so it’s really just enhancing an existing image with a little bit more dynamic range.

(Oh yeah, I sort of dubbed this technique “HDR+” a while back…)