“Inner Beauty” – An HDR Collaboration Project   20 comments


Once again, the HDR Collaboration team came up with a nice variety of results given a single set of brackets! Players this week are Mike “Theaterwiz” Criswell, Jim Denham, Mark Garbowski, Jacques Gudé, Scott Frederick, Bob Lussier, and myself, Rob Hanson.

If this is your first time seeing the collaboration project, a few of us get together online and share one photographer’s HDR bracket set, applying our own vision, aesthetic and punishment to the pixels. Whoever provides the set collates the results in a blog post. Sometimes the processing is pretty straightforward, while at other times there are specific challenges involved. This week is one of those times, as I tried my best to throw a few curve balls into the mix.  Looking at the results, I find it fascinating that everyone seemed to take a distinctly different approach in handling the challenges, and that’s the beauty of the collaboration project: In one place, you get to see a number of different perspectives and interpretations of the same scene.

This photo set of an old Chevy was taken while on a day cruise through Walnut Cove, NC.  My head snapped around as I saw a number of old cars and trucks parked in an oak grove just off the road. Turning back into what looked like a small, private road servicing a few houses, I looked for someone to ask permission to shoot. Failing that, I started firing away at various scenes in this great location, hoping that no one would object. (Other subjects from this site can be seen in Dodge This!, Peelings, Nothing More Than Peelings…, and Found On Road Dead, Literally.) When I thought about it later, it was probably not an issue. Whoever owned the collection put it out by the road so that others could enjoy it.

This is what the Chevy looked like from the outside. Don’t ask me what the buzz-saw attachment is about — I don’t know, but I want one for my Prius!

An old Chevy truck with a buzz saw attachment sits in the woods near Walnut Cove, North Carolina

Inner Beauty -- Outer Danger


Moving to the driver’s window, I set the tripod as close as possible and fired off eleven exposures with the Promote Control, using a Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens at 28mm, f/6.3. Setting the focus point was difficult given the circumstances, so I honed in on the Chevrolet logo on the dashboard. This presented one processing challenge: Dealing with the out-of-focus window frame and steering wheel. It was also one of my first shots of the day, and I hadn’t noticed that I neglected to set the white balance from a custom indoor setting I had been using back to Auto!  All the original RAW files came out with a distinctively cold, blue cast, and this is what I gave to the team. As you’ll see, some of the boys made interesting choices with respect to these two conditions.

Please be sure to visit the blog sites for my friends… just click on their names and their blog sites will open in a new window or browser tab. They are a highly talented group of photographers, and I’m delighted to know them and share in this project. When you visit the sites, the very best way to stay in tune with them and our future projects is to subscribe to the blogs, so I’d like to encourage you to do so. You can also click on each picture to open it in a new window or browser tab.

Without further ado, here is “Inner Beauty” as seen through the eyes of seven photographers, along with each contributor’s notes about their processing choices. Please Enjoy!


Mike “Theaterwiz” Criswell says:

“Thanks for the great Rusty and Crusty brackets Rob, I enjoyed processing them. I wanted to do something really wild with this set but work and things slammed me this week, so I had to go for more traditional processing. Thanks for the heads up on the WB, that was a quick fix. I wanted to Highlight the steering wheel and dashboard, and all those juicy, rusty,cobweb covered details. I chose to crop this a bit and eliminate the rear view mirror and place the wheel and dash in a more favorable spot, at least as I saw it. I used my normal processing tools of NIK, OnOne, Photomatix and Topaz, bits and pieces of each. Thanks again for the brackets Rob.”

"Inner Beauty" by Mike 'Theaterwiz' Criswell


Jim Denham says: “Another cool set of brackets to manipulate this round – thanks Rob! Rob gave us the heads up on the white balance early on for this image, so that was the first order of business. After taking care of that, merging and tone mapping, the main thing I wanted to highlight in the image was the surface rust on the inside of the vehicle. I especially liked the radio sticking up in the front seat – reminded me of old days! Used the Spicify preset in Topaz Adjust to bring out that rusty color, then also applied the Portrait Smooth preset on the windows to take a bit of the clarity out and make them a bit more real with the age of the windows. It’s a cool shot for sure! Thanks Rob!”

"Inner Beauty" by Jim Denham


Mark Garbowski says: “It’s been a while since Rob supplied the image, so this was a treat. The white balance was way off, but the fix was easier than I feared. There didn’t seem to be a clean white or grey point to sample, but the rusted chrome “Chevrolet” strip on the dash actually sufficed and Aperture nailed the correction. I also wanted to soften the out of focus window frame in the foreground without changing Rob’s original focal plane. Apart from those issues, I wanted saturation on the wood veneer, and detail on all of the other interior elements. I tried to keep everything else minimalist and realistic.”

"Inner Beauty" by Mark Garbowski


Jacques Gudé says: “Man! It’s been awhile since I had so much fun working a set of brackets.  Thanks, Rob!  I love anything old and forgotten, and I LOVE trucks, tractors, and just about anything else on wheels.  As I have in the past, I really gave myself permission to go wild with this one.  My idea was to make this shot look like it was shot under a full moon, with the outside cold and scary, while the inside was lit by the warm glow of an old bulb flickering in the ceiling of the cabin. Once I wet through my routine of applying some of my favorite Nik Software filters, and my special sauce, I spent a few minutes burning in a couple of shadow areas to highlight some of the key elements of the dash, the steering wheel and the radio in the center console.  I was pretty dang pleased with how this one came out.  Your tastes may vary! ;-)”

"Inner Beauty" by Jacques Gudé


Scott Frederick says: “Thanks to Rob Hanson for supplying these great brackets.  I tend to shoot wide so It’s nice to work on some closeups!  I like the way he composed this shot through the window.  I just wanted to do a clean simple edit and make the colors muted.  I had a blast working on the set.”

"Inner Beauty" by Scott Frederick


Bob Lussier says: “Thanks to Rob for sharing his ride with us this week! I hope your moonshine deliveries weren’t late because you took the time to shoot your truck! Seriously, there is nothing like the Inner Beauty of an old car, and this one is classic. The challenge was the fact that the brackets were shot at the wrong white balance setting. I chose to mitigate that rather than embrace it. I warmed things up a bit after tonemapping. I also noticed the focus was sharper on dashboard, leaving the steering wheel slightly soft. That fact, I decided to embrace. I applied an Orton effect to help give the image a soft glow overall. Hope you like it!”

"Inner Beauty" by Bob Lussier


Rob Hanson says: “One of the reasons that I submitted this particular set is that doing so gives me an idea of how other photographers address distracting elements in an image. I was not disappointed, as I think the solutions and the distinctly different feel of each version shows how many roads there are to a great picture. The crew did very well on this go-around!

“After setting a new White Balance, I ran the set through various programs to see which would work best. As usual, I wound up using an amalgam of output from Photomatix Pro, HDR Express, and Photoshop’s Merge to HDR Pro. Each program has its particular strengths. From there, I found that the background foliage and trees provided too much of the same tonal range found in the cab — all brown — so I included some of the blue cast found in the originals, although I toned it down in terms of cast color and exposure. This helps to show that the truck is sitting in the woods, and at the same time, I think the bluish color works well with the tan and rust tones of the truck, and creates a spooky mood outdoors.

“Beyond that, work was done to draw one’s attention to the emblem and dashboard, the radio, and the door panel while minimizing the distraction of the other elements. I generally use Nik Color Efex Pro filters and Photoshop CS5 adjustment layers. A good dose of Nik’s Tonal Contrast and sharpening on those key elements helped to bring out the “ick” factor. I finished it off with a slight crop.”

"Inner Beauty" by Rob Hanson

Thanks for playing, everyone!  It’s always great fun, and very informative.


20 responses to ““Inner Beauty” – An HDR Collaboration Project

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  1. Great job guys! I really enjoy these collaborations. I am inspired by you all!

  2. Fantastic work everyone! Great results and a great subject!

  3. Awesome, how do I get in on this action? Looks like fun!

  4. Great hosting Rob – good fun for sure! Proud to be part of such a talented bunch of blokes! Always fun seeing the differences in vision and techniques!

  5. Love seeing all the different versions Rob, these look great!

  6. It’s fun to see how different people process the same image. Nice post Rob!

  7. Great jobs, gents!

  8. great series of shots Rob and everyone else! well done, love the rust and grit, such a great collection of shots! Jim

  9. Nice work from everyone, thanks again Rob, I really want one of those rear Buzz-saw attachments myself

  10. all of these look great! nice set of brackets.

  11. Great set of brackets and all great processing! Nice work!

  12. It is so much fun to view the variations on the theme! The narratives really compliment each image. The true “Inner Beauty” is revealed through each photographer’s style and thought process. Thanks for sharing!

  13. They are all good and interesting in there own way. I love seen how everyone process them, and add their own brand to the photo.

  14. Love the collaboration! Everyone has such a unique take on what elements in the photo to bring out to make it just right!

  15. Great stuff… I’m going to have to give 5 stars to Jacques on this round! Awesome idea.

  16. Great subject! I really like seeing the different interpretations and processing decisions taken by the group.

  17. What a great idea, I saw this in the HDR Spotting Group on Flickr. Great work, guys!!

  18. All of the images are winners, some are quite stunning, good work guys.

  19. Sorry for the late comment, but I wanted to thank you Rob for hosting this round and the brackets were kick ass! 🙂

  20. Pingback: Central Park Reservoir » Mark Garbowski Photography Blog

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