Its been literally years since I’ve played around with HDR (I am not going togo into all of the details of how to do it as I cover it on my Photoshop Crash Course – Photoshop Crash Course DVD, but wanted to play around with it again, so today I set out to find something that had significantly dark shadows, and work the sun into it- all of this without the use of filters.

Yesterday, I used a 3-Layer Technique, today I took 4 exposures on RAW using a 5Dii with a 16-35mm 2.8 L, f5.0, ISO 100, bracketing the exposure at 1/5, 1/25, 1/200, 1/1600. This allowed me to capture nearly all of the detail from the shade of the gazebo, to the sun peeking out of the clouds. Shooting in JPG or RAW alone a single images doesn’t have enough dynamic range to do it all:

1/51/251/2001/1600Something I don’t really like about HDR, is that it is often very tricky to get a “Photorealistic” image. Yes, you can do it, but it typically requires a lot of finessing, tweaking, re-tweaking, layering of original images, etc, this was about the best I could do in a quick 5 minute edit in terms of “photorealism” (when you compare it with the 3 layer technique, it just doesn’t look that great.So something that is very common, is to take the layered image and run it through a tone-mapping program like “Photomatix”. This is typically the result, giving it a painted gritty look which is very popular. Still to do it real justice, it takes a tremendous amount of time to finesse and massage the image into a masterpiece (which this isn’t, this was just a test).