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Old Apr 27, 2010, 2:58 PM   #1
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Default My first HDR - Sunset on the Homestead

I'm using the trial of Photomatix, and I don't have time to edit out the watermarks

This is a 5 shot HDR of our family farm that has been in the family since 1820. I was trying to get some Golden Hour shots, but was a few miuntes too late. I played with the settings in Photomatix a bit, but I was a little upset with the amount of noise on the barn. You can't see it too much in this downsample, but in larger versions it's quite noticeable. I believe this example was from 5 JPEGS, however I did also use the RAW files, which didn't turn out any better. I'm going to try and get out again tonight to see if I can do better at a different location (the above is from my backyard.)

Shot with a K-7 (ISO 200, f/11) with a Pentax DA 50-200mm 4-5.6 ED WR lens. I used exposure bracketing to capture these (+/- 1.7EV)

Please C&C!

Photomatix (trial) from 5 shots:


Middle exposure:
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 3:44 PM   #2
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Everything looks pretty soft to me. Maybe a bit of unsharp mask is needed. The spaces between the branches in the trees is very noticeable. The colors are nice. Having that pink and orange is a nice change from the dirty gray.
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 4:13 PM   #3
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the reason you are getting so much noise is that the middle exposure the barn and everything is completely black. when its this dark, i find that a hdr done normally just results in soft and noisy outputs.

if you really want to do an HDR of a scene like this. you should make 2 separate HDRs. 1 bracketed around the correct exposure for the ground. 1 bracketed for the exposure of the sky. then you can blend them with layers in photoshop. keep some of your normal exposures too, to blend back in if the results of the 2 HDRs is just too unbelievable for the eyes.
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 4:14 PM   #4
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or just shoot earlier...
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 8:42 PM   #5
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Thanks guys, I'll try again tomorrow maybe
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 10:15 PM   #6
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Interesting point about the blacks in the middle exposure and the software trying to compensate for that. I hadn't put that together as to why I get extra noise with some shots and not with others (like some night light shots).

Dustin - when you are blending the two layers in photoshop - do you use layer masks to block or let through what you want? Or have you tried the method of essentially copying the (lighter) one on the bottom and pasting it on a layer mask (there's slightly more to it) for the darker layer and using a gaussian mask to blur it? Or something else?

What if your middle exposure is exposed for the ground/barn, then you go up and down from there? Photomatix can guess (or you can designate) the Ev between frames if needed, would that help?
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Old Apr 27, 2010, 10:20 PM   #7
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I always use via layer masks. that lets me alter the opacity of the brush i use to unmask it at the junction (such as the horizon here) to my personal tastes and to achieve the most natural transition i can. that works much better than copy/paste and then trying to fix it.

if you had a more neutral middle exposure, and had more images with larger stops it could help possibly. and i am not sure the math behind the photomatrix enough. but whenever i try to pull detail out when 1 of the frames is all dark, it seems to generate lots of noise. if for example in an nightshot, its black in all exposures, it doesnt generate this noise. so i just try to avoid having black in one of the exposures that i am going to try to get detail from another exposure.

sorry that was a bit confusing, i am not really sure how to say that properly, hopefully you get what i am saying.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 9:59 AM   #8
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What you said made perfect sense to me, and thanks for the explanation how you handle the layers in photoshop. I don't draw at all well, so for me to start using brushes on layer masks (and I do it a lot by the way) it has to be pretty easy to do. When the shapes etc. are complicated I get frustrated and give up. I was actually hoping you had an easier way of doing it.

I really like the Photomatix version of this picture at this size, if that didn't come across. I love the detail in the fields and the sunset. Since there's pretty definite separation at the tree-line, I think doing it by layers and masks in photoshop would be relatively easy.
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Old Apr 28, 2010, 10:08 AM   #9
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Thanks for the detailed explanation Dustin, and the kinds words mtngal. I've always been interested in HDR, just simply don't have the time to play with it much. I'm hoping to change this in the near future though
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Old Apr 29, 2010, 4:36 PM   #10
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Much of the sky is blown out in red in the HDR, losing detail.

Can you post the central RAW please. A simple edit may give better results.
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