a17 November 2013

Before/after comparison: Ducks Race

before after
It's time for yet another before/after comparison + some post processing details (for more comparisons like this one go here), where I share my post-processing workflow. This time - Smreczynski Pond (Staw Smreczynski) a small yet very beautiful lake in Tatra mountains. When I was taking some landscape photos there a group of ducks appeared out of nowhere and with quite a great speed they raced through the lake, hence the title of this photo - Ducks Race.

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:
  1. Base photos - all source exposures I used to blend the image:
    1. 0 EV - I used it as a base
    2. -1 EV and -2 EV - from these exposures I restored the sky and clouds
    3. +1 EV - I used this exposure to brighten shadows in the forest a little bit
  2. Midtones contrast - I increased contrast of midtones a little bit to add some contrast pop.
  3. Highlights contrast - I decreased brightness of highlights (mainly in the clouds area) and increased contrast there using Curve adjustments layer.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Global vibrance - I slightly increased global vibrance to make blues more blue and greens more green.
  7. Yellows saturation - I increased saturation of yellows (foliage).
  8. Blues saturation - I further increased saturation of blues.
  9. Clarity - increased clarity of the image using this technique.
  10. Sharpening - added some sharpening using high-pass sharpening technique.
  11. Topaz Clarity - finally I slightly increased clarity using Topaz Clarity.

Finally some EXIF and other technical specs:

Technical details:
Camera: Canon 5D MK III
Lens: Canon 24-105 f/4 L IS USM
Focal length: 24 mm
Aperture: f/9.0
Exposure time: 1/50 s ("middle" exposure)
ISO: 400
Number of exposures: 5
E.V. Step: 1
Flash used: no
Tripod: yes
Filters: circular polarizing filter
Technique: manual blending, luminosity masks
Software: Magic Lantern 2.3, Lightroom 5.0, Photoshop CC

Where was this photo taken:

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