A stroll through the forest on a sunny summer day in Yosemite can be such a pleasant experience…. Too bad making a good photograph of it is so difficult, with the extreme contrast between the bright sun and the dark shadows. Without some cloud cover to diffuse the light and reduce the contrast, the dynamic range between the highlights and shadows is just too much for a digital camera to handle, even in a raw file.
Ugh! Way too much contrast!
But Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro has come to my rescue this summer. With the intention of using high dynamic range (HDR) processing, I bracketed some images with a series of 3 exposures at 1-stop intervals. Initially processing each image in Lightroom, I made sure I wasn’t clipping any of the brightest or darkest data, and exported the group to HDR Efex Pro. Applying overall adjustments for a fairly natural appearance (the surreal HDR look is interesting, but overused) and a few local adjustments to keep highlights under control, I’ve gotten results much more like the experience of human vision—lots more detail in the shadows and the bright areas. Here are some examples:
The Old Tioga Road near Gin Flat
Trail to the Merced Grove of Big Trees
Sequoiadendron in the Merced Grove
Along the South Fork Tuolumne River
Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
Copyright © 2011 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.