Dec 052010

Here’s another image, that I’ve taken as a series of bracketed images, tried to merge in Photomatix Pro, and found the results insufficient. In the end I have merged four of the exposures to HDR in Photoshop, saved the result as a 32 bit file, and then made two different 16 bit tone mappings, one with “Highlight Compression” and one with the conversion method “Equalize Histogram”. A blended merge of the two was the basis for the background, while mid- and foreground (including all water) are mostly a combination of exposure #5 and some local contrast enhancements made with Topaz Detail. Add some saturation globally, take some away from the far side (which otherwise would become too blue), and you have more or less this image.

I think it is much more natural than what I would have got from Photomatix Pro. Interestingly enough, Photomatix Pro did a good job with the water. Its result was almost free of artifacts and the automatic “de-ghosting” worked just as advertised. The water was a little bit mushy, less crisp though, and working on it, I would have brought up what artifacts remained. In the end it would have cost me about the same amount of time as doing it in Photoshop from the start. Still, in most images it is a good idea to at least see what the automatics have to offer. It may not always be ready to publish, but it may save you time.

The Song of the Day is “The Cool, Cool River” from Paul Simon’s 1990 album “The Rhythm of the Saints”. Hear it on YouTube.

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