Having recently acquired Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro, I’ve been deliberately shooting some scenes that combine deep shade with bright light to see just how well the software can build a “normal”-looking image from a series of images that individually look pretty badly exposed. I’ve been pleased with the results. Here are two examples, followed by some explanation.
In these two pictures at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis, the foreground was in deep shade and the building was in bright, early-morning sunlight. These pictures were compiled in HDR Efex Pro from a series of 5 bracketed exposures, each 1.0 f-stop apart. The finished products are close to how the human eye sees the scene, but the camera, with its narrower range of optimal sensitivity to light, cannot see it this way. Here are thumbnails of 4 of the 5 exposures used to make the first image (one more brighter exposure was used along with these):
Even if curve adjustments were applied separately (with masking) to bright and dark parts of the image, it would be tough to produce a final image from just one of these with overall good exposure, contrast, and color. High dynamic range (HDR) processing saved the day—er, morning—here.
Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
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