This is the first time that I am participating in the before and after forum. This forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs and seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision. You can read more here about how to take part.
My picture is of a Sun House in a park near Łowicz. The building was originally a greenhouse but it was partially destroyed and when rebuilt turned into a Sun House, where you can go sunbathe. I was really drawn to the deck chairs and the pebbles on the ground, which reminded me of the pictures you see of the tropical beaches.
When taking the shot I really wanted to have the brightness of the room along with the landscape outside. This mean I would need to bracket the exposures and blend them together. The easiest way to do this is via HDR.
When taking a HDR you need three exposures usually one being the correct exposure with the other too being over and underexposed. Using a plugin or program like HDR Efex or Photomatix as well as in Photoshop itself you can combine the exposures widening the dynamic range of the image. When taking this means that you need to use a tripod to make sure there is no movement between exposures but you can work around this with fast shutter speeds and a steady hand from time to time.
In this park tripods are banned (to my surprise) so I had to take the picture handheld. There were some steps in the Sun House and I sat there with my elbows tight to my body breathed in and took my shots.
In Lightroom I applied basic lens corrections and noise reduction but didn’t sharpen the image. I exported the exposures to Photomatix and created my HDR image. When I got my image back into Lightroom I made some more adjustments to the overall tone, fine tuning the HDR image. I noticed that there was a strange colourization around the windows, which was really distracting. To fix this I had to go to Photoshop.
I exported the HDR image to Photoshop and then chose the exposure with the best window colour and detail, then exported this exposure to Photoshop. Once in Photoshop both images were placed in layers. I auto aligned the layers and arranged them so that the HDR was on the bottom and the single exposure on top. I added a layer mask to the single exposure and slowly masked in the window detail.
Once I had masked in the window frame, I made some minor adjustments to the layer to make sure the colour and contrast matched. I did this by converting the layer to a smart object and used camera raw as a filter. When all was done I sent the file back to Lightroom for some final sharpening and localised tonal adjustments.
The whole process took about an hour mainly due to masking the windows which is quite intricate. With a lot of HDR images, I think people sometimes use it as a one click filter. I feel that the HDR processing is the first coat of paint on the canvas and you need to build and correct parts of the image. In my landscapes I do this a lot with the sky as there are sometimes some surreal effects after processing as a HDR.
If you have any questions about my process, please ask via the comment box below. Also you can let me know what you think of the image, be it positive or negative via the comment box below.
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