In the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky we talk about High Noon Photography.

High noon photography is usually bad.  Harsh deep shadows and strong highlights are the worst conditions to take pictures.  Our camera systems have such a limited dynamic range that most of the scene will be either too dark or too bright.  This does not give pleasing results. The challenges associated with high noon photography are not easy to cope with.  High Dynamic Range photography is the technique that is the most interesting.  However, HDR often creates flaws in the forms of unwanted highlight at the edge and a yellowish/cartoonish rendition.  Bad tone mapping is the culprit most of the time.

How to get the most of High Noon Photography?

I took this picture in some of the worst conditions.  This is typical high noon photography.  As you can see, on the original picture, the Grand Teton range is not clearly visible .  This leads to a very ordinary picture.  Fortunately, when I was on site I took multiple exposures on a tripod.

Back home, I took some steps to recover an acceptable picture:

  • From Lightroom, I merged all five exposure in Photoshop Merge to HDR Pro;
  • I change the mode to 32 Bit in Merge to HDR Pro;
  • I use File Save As in Photoshop to Save the file giving it a proper name and choosing the lightroom folder where my originals were;
  • I can now exit Photoshop responding “no” to the question do you want to Save the file?
  • Back in Lightroom, I find the folder where I save the file in the Navigation panel of the Library module.  Right click on the folder name and Synchronize;
  • After hitting Synchronize again in the dialog box, the 32 bit HDR Picture from Photoshop is available to me.
  • Now I can adjust the exposition, white and black point and tweak shadows and highlights.

This way of working really help avoid the pitfalls of regular HDR.  Using Lightroom slider is more forgiving.  Furthermore, all changes from sliders are applied at the export time so you keep your HDR process 32 bit file intact.

This picture was really bad when I started working on it. In order to rescue the mountain, I had to do local adjustment using the paintbrush and adjust contrast and exposition.  HDR alone would not give a nice picture.

Nothing beats the late afternoon or early morning light.  However, when there is no other option, take multiples exposures, one stop apart.  You might be able to rescue an ok shot from a high noon photography.