This time I took 5 exposures at 1 EV spacing, and used manual blending. However, during manual blending I dropped +2 EV exposure because it didn't provide any improvement to image quality. In this case 0 EV photo is Before and final processed image is After. As you can see the difference isn't huge. I wanted to keep the final image as close to the original as possible.
Some of you might wonder why did I use manual blending in this case? Well, there is no particular reason. I just want to know various techniques and although I use Photomatix Pro 99% of the time when I process HDR images (because I'm happy with the results) sometimes I just try something different.
In the image below you can see what layers I used to create final image. Starting from bottom they are:
- Base photos - all source exposures I used to blend the image:
- 0 EV - I used it as a base
- -1 EV and -2 EV - from these exposures I restored the sky and clouds
- +1 EV - I used this exposure to brighten shadows in the forest a little bit
- Midtones contrast - I increased contrast of midtones a little bit to add some contrast pop.
- Highlights contrast - I decreased brightness of highlights (mainly in the clouds area) and increased contrast there using Curve adjustments layer.
- Shadows contrast - I added some contrast to the darkest parts of the image (mountains, forest, water) and slightly brightened them up. I used Curves adjustments layers for this purpose.
- Highlights contrast 2 - I added even more highlights contrast but this time I simply used Overlay blending mode (which has the effect of increasing contrast).
- Global vibrance - I slightly increased global vibrance to make blues more blue and greens more green.
- Yellows saturation - I increased saturation of yellows (foliage).
- Blues saturation - I further increased saturation of blues.
- Clarity - increased clarity of the image using this technique.
- Sharpening - added some sharpening using high-pass sharpening technique.
- Topaz Clarity - finally I slightly increased clarity using Topaz Clarity.
Finally some EXIF and other technical specs:
Camera: Canon 5D MK III
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Exposure time: 1/50 s ("middle" exposure)
Number of exposures: 5
E.V. Step: 1
Flash used: no
Filters: circular polarizing filter
Technique: manual blending, luminosity masks
Software: Magic Lantern 2.3, Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC