It was just another beautiful autumn day at Acadia National Park on the Maine coast.
This is The Bowl, a small tarn near the Beehives on the eastern side of Mt. Desert Island. It was such a nice day, we just had to pull up for a while. Couldn’t just sit there — right? — so I started clicking off some hand-held brackets. Because of the inevitable camera motion when shooting hand-held and the usual softness brought about by HDR processing, this image needed some help. It was shot at 11mm f/2.8 with a CPL filter, which didn’t help matters.
While I don’t often recite highly detailed recipes, I thought this was a good example of “rescuing” an image that would otherwise sit as nothing more than a pleasant memory in the library. Thanks to one of my new favorite toys, Topaz InFocus, it became a viable HDR image.
I started off with a three-bracket (+/-2EV) merge in HDR Expose, with basic brightness and highlight adjustments in Unified Color’s Photoshop plug-in, 32 Float. Returning the result as a layer, a lens correction was used to relieve some barrel distortion. I invoked the new Topaz InFocus filter, dialing in just the right radius settings for this subject (1.76 radius, 2.7 suppress) in order to provide sharp detail in the wood grain of the logs. There were artifacts left in the tree line and water surface, but these could be addressed later. Having recently received an upgrade to Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete, I had access to the Pro Contrast filter, which can really help to pop an image and remove color cast. Topaz DeNoise was then used to remove the artifacts created by the InFocus pass (I’m trying to wean myself off of Imagenomic Noiseware Pro since they’re not currently 64-bit.) I had originally used one of my favorite tricks, Nik’s Darken/Lighten Center, to bring the eye toward the logs, but it created a hyper-polarized effect by darkening the sky, which just seemed unnaturally blue.
One thing that has become clear to me (pun not intended) is that Topaz InFocus tends to work best when you have discrete, straight edges in an image. The cityscape that Topaz provides on their website is a good example of this. For this landscape image of The Bowl, you wouldn’t want to preview the area of trees, as that area is soft and irregularly shaped. Bringing the InFocus preview window to the logs and foreground detail, however, provided the harder edges needed for the filter’s algorithms to work properly. Knowing this seems to be one key to having the filter work best for you.
You can see this image larger by clicking on it. A new window will open on the Waterscapes gallery.