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Old Feb 4, 2012, 11:20 PM   #1
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Default A Case for no HDR

Today Dan and I (and some other SoCal Pentaxians) met up at the Huntington Library for World Pentax Day. We had a great time and the gardens there are just awesome (haven't been in years, and didn't properly appreciate them then). There was a Chinese New Year's celebration going on, with a number of activities and tons of people. This girl clowning for her parents caught my eye, but the scene had a big dynamic range. I did a series of bracketed shots, but she was moving way too much for HDR software to deal with. I considered doing layers with layer masks to choose what I wanted, but I don't have the patience to deal with such things very often. I decided to see what the Beta version of Lightroom 4 could manage to make of one shot that had the lights more or less exposed properly.

Here's the original shot, without any corrections. As you can see, if it weren't for the person in the shot it would be a good candidate for HDR.

There's a bit of clipping in the highlights (but not a huge amount) and there's not all that much clipping in the blacks. Which also makes it possibly a good candidate for getting a reasonable shot with more conventional methods. In this case, I like the new LR processor when it comes to lightening shadows, it does it far more gracefully than LR3's fill light (which would leave weird dark halos at edges and would also lighten everything a bit). With LR4 beta, I could darken the highlights just a bit and lighten the shadows, as well as shift the black point lighter and not have any artifacts.

The other thing that always amazes me when I try something like this is how much you can lighten shadows without adding in noise. That's something you can't do with the K7 - it's pretty unforgiving when it comes to exposure.

I'm finding myself using HDR software less and less. For instance, which one of these is the HDR version and which is the single exposure where I lightened the shadows and slightly darkened the highlights? The single exposure shot is not one of the ones that makes up the HDR, it's a separate shot that I framed differently.

Candidate #1:

Candidate #2:

Do you have any preference between the two and if so, which one and why?

It was an interesting experiment, I could easily get hooked on the new LR, and expect that I'll buy it when it is officially released. In the mean time, try the free beta version, it doesn't cost anything to play around with it for those who have thought about trying the program.

P.S. - sorry about the framing with the unnatural growth out of the girl's head. I'm still such an amateur that I didn't even notice it until I started to play with it. Wouldn't have been able to frame it differently since I was an interloper on the scene.

Last edited by mtngal; Feb 4, 2012 at 11:23 PM.
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Old Feb 4, 2012, 11:31 PM   #2
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Thanks for sharing. The more I shot with my Pentax K-5 the more I love it.

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Old Feb 5, 2012, 12:53 AM   #3
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I like #2 better and I think that is the non-HDR. How did I do?

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Old Feb 5, 2012, 7:57 AM   #4
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Shot one looks nice but unnatural I prefer shot 2


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Old Feb 5, 2012, 8:05 AM   #5
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Shot 2 is the non-HDR version. Part of the problem with the HDR one was that Photomatix oversaturates the yellows, so I added a photo cooling layer to try to bring the extra yellow down. Looking at it this morning, I over-did it. But I still like the non-HDR version, even disregarding the white balance differences, I still prefer #2.

HDR software and processing does have a place (as my Oceanside picture shows) but if I can, I prefer processing with Lightroom and Phtotoshop.
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Old Feb 5, 2012, 4:56 PM   #6
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Ah, I totally forgot about World Pentax Day until I saw a post today about posting photos from it. Some day I'll make it.

I do like what you did with your first shot. You are right. It is amazing what we can get out of this camera. Lou (keltech) and I, with our spouses, went into Boston last weekend for the Chinese New Year celebration. It was quite colorful.

Of your building shot, I like the second one. The crispness of it, although the shadows on the building I wish were a little less noticeable.

Nice job. Patty
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Old Feb 5, 2012, 9:31 PM   #7
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I also prefer the second shot, and I'm amazed that you could do that without HDR. I also love your shot with the child playing. The column behind her doesn't bother me at all. She's slightly backlit, which creates a very nice highlight halo around her hair, and to my eye, that separates the column from her head.
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 5:15 PM   #8
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Great work on PP with the child playing - a nice photo made much better!

Will also agree with the rest that the non-HDR photo of the building looks much more natural and pleasing to the eye.
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Old Feb 12, 2012, 1:20 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
I decided to see what the Beta version of Lightroom 4 could manage to make of one shot that had the lights more or less exposed properly.
Having seen your post, I've also downloaded LR4 beta to see how it stacks up against LR3 that I've been using.

First impressions are good & it seems to make a better job from the Basic menu. But because it uses a totally new 'engine' to process the images, they can't be directly imported into CS5 as PEF files 'cause the Camera RAW isn't compatible - let's hope that CS5 can use Camera RAW 7 when it's available without the need to upgrade to CS6 which would be prohibitively too expensive for me (& others).

Update: According to several comments on the web, it looks like CR7 may not be backwards compatible with CS5, although some one allegedly has a 'pre release' version of CR7 that they claim works with CS5 - let's hope so.
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Old Feb 12, 2012, 2:26 PM   #10
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I also prefer shot 2. I have never been an HDR fan. Here is one of my images that many people thought was HDR, processed with PSE6.
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