“North Carolina Heating and Air Conditioning”
As I like to say: “The great part about not knowing all the rules is that it allows one to break them without compunction.” Who’s to say that we can’t take the output from one HDR program and use it as input to another? Or, vice-versa? What happens if we combine this, with that? While sometimes the result looks like we’ve just combined matter with anti-matter, interesting surprises can result from such experimentation.
And, since we’re HDR photogs, don’t we inherently enjoy experimenting like the early alchemists?
I’ve been working quite a bit with Unified Color’s new HDR Expose program, and I’ve been using Photomatix Pro for quite a while now . Each has its strengths, as we might expect, and I could pick over their respective weaknesses as well. Rather than dwelling on what’s missing, I tried my best to use the strengths of each program in this image. (Note: Discount codes for both programs are available from the Discounts menu above.)
When I ran the brackets through HDR Expose and applied edits there, the result was an ‘as-I-saw-it’ image with great shadow and highlight detail. But, at the end of the process, it looked like an old building sitting in a field — which is exactly what it was. While the result was an accurate representation, in this case it seemed to lack something artistic or interesting. There wasn’t enough there to really hold one’s attention.
Enter the stalwart Photomatix Pro 3(.2.9) The output from that pass had elements that I loved about the building, but there was significant ghosting in the tree branches and the monochromatic sky had that dingy quality despite my having upped the micro-smoothing and highlights-smoothing substantially. Those things could have been handled in Photoshop pretty easily by layering in a single RAW, but why not try something different?
Using standard Photoshop layering techniques, we’re able to quickly and easily combine the best elements of each program’s output. The shack was rendered by Photomatix Pro, while the remainder of the scene is from HDR Expose. Along the trees in certain spots, there is a mixture of the two, with HDR Expose handling most of the pixels. Following up with some Curves adjustments and a little selective saturation boost in select spots, we have what I think is an interesting image: A funky old shack with some outrageous surface color — just as I had remembered it in the harsh morning light (I drink strong coffee…) — with sunlight pouring in through the roof.
It’s not a radical idea, of course, using various layers to achieve an effect. I have some other experiments going on that I believe could be ever more interesting.