HDR Workflow

I thought that it might be of interest to show how I created the above HDR Image. This is just to give you an idea of what an HDR image process is like. It is by no means a complete detailed instruction.
Yesterday I attented part 1 of a 2 part HDR Worksho held by the San Luis Obispo Camera Club. The name of the workshop is "Higher Dynamic Range". The Workshop is being led by Howard Ignatius. In this Workshop, Howard shows how to take images for HDR processing to a Higher Level. Day one was a lecture and photo shoots to multiple locations. Day 2 is for post processing. It is an Excellent Workshop. I learned so much. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed being around wonderful photographers that I admire. I can't wait for the post proccessing portion of this workshop.
Howard Ignatius quotes Ansle Adams saying “You don't take a photograph, you make it.”
I cant agree more. HDR photography is a very debatable subject. But for me, I love it. If someone doesn't like HDR Photography, there is a very good change that they do not understand it or the creative work involved. I realize that it is not for everyone or situation. But for those who are interesred in HDR here is a sample of my workflow.
Below are a series of images taken to produce a Final HDR Image (above) that was taken at one of the shooting locations from yesterday's workshop.
Images 1,2, & 3 are the actual bracketed images saved from the Raw files 2 stops apart. (-2, 0, +2)
All images are reduced in size and saved as jpegs for this article.
Images 4 & 5 are the Tonemapped Tiff Images that were produced after the HDR process thru the progam Photomatix Pro. Image 4 is the first Tonemapped Image produced and Image 5 was run thru Photomatix again. (In some cases I like to re proccess and image thru Photomatic twice for a richer result.)
The settings in Photomatix allows you to add color, make all kinds of tonal changes and much much more.
You can even produce an amazing B&W Image.
After Image 5 was produced, I then worked on the image in Photoshop CS4 and Lightroom 2, to clean up the image, straighten, crop, clone out unwanted artifacts, bring out detail, color and create the image that I ultimately wanted based on what I actually saw and experienced as I was shooting this Image.
Keep in mind that the image's shown can never produce what the eye actually sees. And that post processing can only bring out what is actually stored on the Raw Files themselves. You can decide how much it does or doesn't resemble the actual conditions.

As you can see this Tonemapped image below has the tonal ranges of all 3 images merged together.
But also in Photomatix I have made other adjustments that bring out color and much more.

Again... The Final Image


  1. Hi Beth. Thanks so much for posting this explanation of how you developed your final image. I've yet to do work in HDR and it is very helpful to see the raw material (pun intended) you started with and the evolutionary steps the image went through. I totally agree that photographs are made, not taken - it has always been so. You have a great eye for composition and I respect your artistic/creative sense used to develop your final products. Beautiful work!

  2. Thanks Beth. This is very helpful. I'm on the east coast for a few months and so missed Howard's workshop. Will be back for the SLOCC meeting in June.

    I assume that the title of the workshop "Higher" refers to the issue of overuse of HDR by some photographers (not you!).

    Can you expand a little about the (dramatic) changes you made between image 5 and final (i.e. CS4/LR2 - cleanup, bring out detail, etc )? Thanks! Steve Ayraud

  3. Great job Beth! I am so interested in HDR and I'm glad you shared this explanation to help me better understand what HDR is all about. This is an amazing picture!


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