Selective HDR is coming to save Over Processed HDR

Over processed HDR images are neither good or bad in themselves.  The subject might demand or be better represented by pushing the boundaries a little bit.  Some subject does not allow for any bit of over processing.  Selective HDR might be an alternative though.

Selective HDR made Easy

I found this snow blower, jammed in the snow at the end of February 2014.  Evidently, by the look of it, this equipment has gone through time.  It deserves to be shown in its full glory.

I was not prepared to meet it on that February 23rd.  I was on snowshoes, hoping to catch a waterfall that was simply not there.  No water flowing, or should water were flowing, it was behind a wall of ice.  This is another story though.

On my way back, I met Jack, the snow blower.  I knew what I aim to do with Jack.  I wanted that each pain he felt showed in the picture.  In order to do this, I went through multiple steps:

Making the shot with Selective HDR in mind:

I look at Jack from all angles first.  From a distance, in order to avoid leaving foot steps in the snow, I decided to use a wide angle in order to over emphasize how big Jack is in reality.  I put my tripod on the ground, ensuring a stable position that was low enough to maximize the perception of height.  I used my widest angle available lens:  the trusty Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L that I have with me at all time.  I knew I would use Selective HDR afterward so I took 7 pictures one stop apart.

Since meeting Jack in these conditions was unexpected, I took pictures of Jack from various angles.


When I came back and prepared myself for post-processing I wanted the look that Nik HDR eFex Pro 2 could create.  While I was willing to push post-processing to the limit on Jack to emphasize its aging beauty, I needed the sky and snow to remain realistic in order for this picture not to be cartoonesque like some HDR picture are.   HDR eFex Pro 2 is perfect for this.

Using a Control Point on the Yellow part of Jack I have extended the size to include all of Jack.  This is the feature of Nik Collection software that I like the most.  I am not that good at making selection with either Lightroom or Photoshop.  With Nik it is so easy to drop a control point and to see how Nik automatically apply the effect only to the required area.  I pushed the structure to achieve the desired effect.

Look at the mask created by the Control Point.  You know that this would be hours of work to create this using the Selective Tool in Photoshop.


In the bright sun, the tire did not look black enough.  I use an additional control point to push the black level only on the tire.  This again was easy.

In this picture, I selectively processed the subject from the surrounding element and the sky, the snow and the trees look realistic.  Should I have apply the effect globally, the snow and the cloud would have become grey with some dark grey which is not credible.

Should you want to move forward in your photography, the most important step would be to process pictures selectively instead of globally.  By doing so, you can apply the effect where it is needed.  If you are like me and can’t mess with the selective tools, consider automated tools like the one from Nik Collections.  They are easy to use and so efficient.

Total time in post-processing for this picture: Less than 5 minutes.  Can you afford 5 minutes of your time before publishing a picture?  What do you think of Selective HDR using Nik Software?  Drop a note.  I want to read  you!