Saturday, May 23, 2009

poor man's HDR

After the rambling last post the other day about tripods, HDR, and clouds - here's an alternative. It was taken from a single frame shot on the grounds of Montpelier, home of James Madison - just north of Charlottesville. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has just completed the structural renovation, and the foundation is trying now to acquire period and family furniture. One day, I'm sure it will rival Monticello as far as grandeur. What I was going for in this shot was an HDR look without the really saturated colors ... and I also only had a single frame to work with. You often see this look with musicians and sports personality portraits - a really high definition look with slightly cool, desaturated, even metallic-looking colors. I got this look by first applying a Lucis Art layer and masking it just to the sky, then creating a high contrast black and white layer with Nik Silver Efex and mixing it in using Luminosity blending mode at about 75%. Finally, I used a curves adjustment layer to bring out a little more detail in the fence, and I added a dark soft edge. For reference, the original file out of camera is below. I also changed proportions a little to make it not quite so tall.


  1. Interesting, in a good way. I wonder why you chose to make it less saturated rather than play up the leafy greens, yellows of the flowers, blue in the sky. Great sky (even if it is Lucis!). I like the composition too and how the fence leads you across the image and then back in from the right.

  2. Nice job on the post processing Steve. Thanks for including your original image for comparison. I think you've made a really good shot into somehting special.

  3. Really fine use of an HDR look. I think it really brings out the details better than sharpening them to death. Really like the leading lines into the image.
    Good job, again!