A surfer plies the storm swell from Hurricane Earl, off the Oceanana Pier in Atlantic Beach, on the Crystal Coast in North Carolina.
This is an HDR image, although there clearly isn’t a great deal of dynamic range available. It was processed with both Photomatix Pro 4 beta — available to all — and another beta HDR program that is not yet released.
If I have one issue these days, it’s choosing between the various HDR programs available, and which to apply to a given image. All of the programs are really strong, and each has its own distinct capability or style. Each also has its not so great points, so sometimes you have to find one with a nice balance. Other times, you can process an image with different HDR programs, and then combine the results using layers and masks in Photoshop.
Such is the case here. I really liked what Photomatix Pro 4 beta did with the textures and definition in the water, but, as expected, it didn’t treat the surfer (i.e., skin tones) quite as well. Even the tonemapping of the water needed just a little something. I could have also taken a pass with HDR Expose from Unified Color, or better yet, their new 32 Float plug-in for Photoshop, but I’m testing another new HDR product, so I decided to try that one.
Choosing between various presets available, I found one that came close to the look I wanted, and I then adjusted the sliders to balance definition, color, and contrast, with an eye to ‘keeping it real.’ Perfect. Combining the Photomatix results with the second pass results allowed me to a) patch in the surfer the way I wanted, and b) blend the two environments — water, foam, wave — to good effect.
This multiple pass approach certainly takes a lot of time — more time than I’d prefer to spend. But I think that as time goes on, one can develop an eye for a specific image and immediately know which program would do the best job at rendering for the artist’s desired result.
And yet, that’s just one aspect of post-processing. Now… which filters to apply? 8)
Although it makes one want to do a 365 project of nothing but SOOC shots, it’s nice to sit back and look at the final product while thinking, “That’s cool… I hope others enjoy this.”
I hope you do.