A little before and after today.
I like to capture moments using HDR (High Dynamic Range) methods of photography. I don’t do this for the “HDR look” but to compensate for the poor dynamic range of digital cameras. But alas, this post is not about HDR, there are plenty of references on this subject and I recommend checking out this article on wikipedia to learn more about HDR.
So here is my story about before and after. Below are two images. The first image was exposed as best that the camera could. The second is an HDR plus additional image processing version of the image. In the first image there are whites in the sky and blacks in the tree. I could have modified this image with flash to bring out the shadows in the tree. But what I was seeing was a very dynamic sky and no flash would help bring out that detail.
At this moment, I was feeling cold winds and mist from the water. I also saw the concrete as a stark contrast to the tree. And of course, I saw the Golden Gate bridge which I wanted to frame in this composition with the tree. The “properly exposed” image gave me none of that drama. So, as I usually do in this situation, I photographed this image for HDR. That is I over exposed by 1 and 1/3 stops and I underexposed by 1 and 1/3 stops. I also shot this from a tripod..
When I arrived home, I processed the three images using my new favorite HDR compression tool Nik HDR EFEX Pro. Made some additional exposure and saturation adjustments in Lightroom and then moved into Photoshop to clone out the orange “No Anything” sign. That was it for a about a month.
As I was looking at the image and thinking about what I liked, it was the bench. The way the light was coming into this image from what appeared to be the upper right. (Even though the sun had set in the left of the image, the sky was clearer on the right and more light was indeed breaking through. But you really could not see this. In the original image you can see the shadow behind the chair but is is minimal. Today I brought the image into Nik Color EFEX to adjust the color contrast and then Nik Viveza to selectively brighten around the chair. Finally I used Nik Sharpen to bring out the textures in the concrete. [I am in no way affiliated with Nik. I just purchased their software this week and decided to give the tools a whirl.]
I think the final image does help me communicate the drama of that moment. It may be a little more than what I indeed saw that evening but I think it does convey all that I was feeling at that moment.
After taking this shot, I realized how numb my hands were having photographed the sun setting on this cold day for over an hour. Sometimes when I get into the “zone” I really don’t realize the loss of key comforts as I enjoy these photographic moments. And so here we are looking at this image. Hopefully you want to sit in that chair to see what is “over there”…
Over there by the way is Alcatraz.