a3 September 2014

Post-processing Wednesday: Catedral de la Almudena

before after

Time for another post in my Post-processing Wednesday series. For more posts from this series go here.

In this case Before photo is 0 EV photo without any adjustments and After image is finished image after using Photomatix Pro 5 and Photoshop CC.

Try it yourself!

Starting today I will occassionally share my source images for you to try. They aren't RAWs (just to protect my copyright a little bit) and are downscaled to 2048 x 1365 pixels but you should still be able to play with them.

Here are the images.

If you do process those images, make sure to share your results in the comments on my blog. I'd be very interested in learning how you edited them!

One tip: the images were taken hand-held, so make sure to use alignment in your HDR tool.

About source images

Today photo was taken in Catedral de la Almudena in Madrid, Spain. I shot this image hand-held using very high ISO (3200) as I wanted it to be proof of concept for the post that high ISO is no longer a bad thing.

You can read more about the image itself in the mentioned post.

As you can see in the Before photo above, shadow areas are almost completely black lacking any detail. Highlights look generally quite ok with the exception of the altar which is a bit overexposed. So to solve both issues I decided to capture HDR image and for that purpose I took 3 exposures at 2.0 EV spacing.

You can see all exposures below. Starting from top-left they are: middle-exposure, under-exposed photo and over-exposed photo:
Bracketed photos in Lightroom

Darkest exposure (-2 EV) have all lights correctly exposed and brightest one (+2 EV) exposes shadows correctly.

Editing in Lightroom

As always I started my editing in Adobe Lightroom.

As the images were taken at high ISO I expected there to be some noise, so I set Luminance Noise to 25 in the Noise Reduction panel.

I also applied lens corrections in Lens Corrections tab by checking both Enable Profile Corrections (to get rid of vignetting and distortions) and Remove Chromatic Aberration settings.

After that I exported all my source images to Photomatix Pro using Photomatix Lightroom Export Plugin.

Editing in Photomatix Pro

Editing in Photomatix Pro was fairly easy this time. I simply used Fusion/Real-Estate default preset and saved the image. After using Photomatix Pro, it looked like this:

Result of using Photomatix Pro
Pretty good! Exposure is now correct across whole frame but the image would benefit from enhancing contrast a little bit. And that was what I focused on in my further editing.

BTW if you would like to learn more about Fusion (it's not the same as HDR!), make sure to read my tutorial.

Editing in Lightroom once more

After reimporting my fused image to Lightroom, I used Upright tool to fix perspective a bit and make the columns straight. Then I exported my photo to Photoshop to improve image contrast there.

Editing in Photoshop using Luminosity Masks

In the image below you can see what layers exactly I used to create final image. Starting from bottom up they are:
  1. Background - image after editing in Photomatix Pro.
  2. Noise reduction - due to high ISO there was still a little bit of noise in some areas of the pictures, especially in the red stands. So I used Topaz Denoise plugin and limited its scope to those areas using layer mask.
  3. Midtones contrast - I then applied just a little bit of midtones contrast using Curves adjustment layer.
  4. Floor contrast - after that I created layer mask for the floor and added quite strong contrast to it, to make the floor pop.
  5. Shadows contrast - after that I did the same for the shadows, to add clarity to them.
  6. Desaturate a bit - it's a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. I brought the cyans and reds down a little bit because they were visible in some areas adding some unpleasant cast.
  7. Sharpening - then I applied a little bit of sharpening using this technique.
Editing using luminosity masks

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