High Dynamic Range is here to stay despite what you may think.

High Dynamic Range is a lot of work for the artist photographer.  Take the time to read on and appreciate the great work of artist photographer when reading this article.

Sometime, only High Dynamic Range post processing can rescue the shot.  This is particularly true when shooting into the sun.  This picture of the Atlantic Ocean at sunrise is true to my memories.   I love the colorful sky in this picture.  I also like how the algae in the bottom of the picture are lit by the sun.  These algae are so nice in the warm light from the rising sun.  The details in the rocks and the blue of the ocean are also lovely.

Here is how I take and process this kind of picture when facing the sun:

  • I put my Induro CT-214 Tripod firmly on the ground.  Depending on its height and the wind, I will hook my backpack to the bottom of the center column to ensure stability.  Any movements of the camera will ruin the shot;
  • Before putting my Canon 5D Mark III on the tripod head I look through the viewfinder to see if the mounted lens can give me the scene that I am looking for.  When needed, I change the lens for the right one;
  • I put my Camera on the tripod head, frame the shot and I adjust the horizon using the electronic level of the camera.  Then, I lock everything in place;
  • I set the camera to aperture priority and the aperture according to the desired depth of field and I use live view and manually focus the lens to make sure that everything is sharp from the far end to the nearest details.  I then change the focusing switch to manual;
  • I make sure that my ISO is at 100 for the greatest possible details;
  • I take one picture and look at the result using the zoom function to make sure that everything is sharp from the far end to the nearest details;
  • I then set the bracketing one stop apart from -3 up to +3 at one stop interval;
  • With the camera set to 2 seconds timer delay, I use a remote to start the shooting sequence.

I then make the following verification before leaving the scene:

  • Is everything sharp from the far end to the nearest details using the zoom on the pictures taken;
  • Does the highlight are nice and clean on the underexposed shot;
  • Does the shadow are nice and properly exposed on the overexposed shot;

Back at home, I will do the following in Lightroom and Nik Software HDR Efex Pro to create a High Dynamic Range picture:

  • In the develop module I will make sure the Camera Calibration Profile is Canon 5D Mark III.  I create calibration profiles for my Camera using the Color Checker Passport read on about it on Photofocus.com;
  • In Lens Correction, I Enable Profile Corrections using the auto option;
  • I choose, from the seven exposures taken, the one that I will process.  Should you have a file with shadow overexposed or highlights underexposed, there is no need to have them includes in the processing.  Fewer is often better;
  • I export these files to Nik Software HDR Efex Pro for processing;
  • I prefer to do my tone-mapping in Lightroom, so once completed using the default setting, I save and come back immediately into lightroom;
  • I make the final adjustment in Lightroom using the Basic Sliders and local adjustment as needed;
  • Finally, I look for distractions, dust sensor, noise and chromatic aberration.  All these potential imperfections need by local adjustment;
  • Once done I have a picture ready for you all!

The picture at the start of this article went through all these steps.  Without this care and this extra work, here is what you would have seen.

Without High Dynamic Range

This picture is not for sale 😉

When you look at pictures for sale in an art gallery, take the time to consider the work behind these pictures both on site and off site.  When you deduct the cost of printing and framing, there is very little money left  to the artist that worked on it.