Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa | HDR Tutorial

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa | HDR Tutorial
This image was shot with an Indoor AKB1 Tripod mounted Canon 7D & Sigma 8-16mm Ultra Wide Angle Lens

“In photography, as in life, the most important mathematics is subtraction. Subtract all that is distracting and unnecessary until only the essential remains.” ~Author Unknown

It is a well-known fact that while Ansel Adams experimented with color photography, he is best known for his black & white images. He felt that color could be distracting, taking the artist’s attention away from achieving the full potential of a photograph. Adams claimed that he could get “a far greater sense of ‘color’ through a well-planned and executed black and white image than [he had] ever achieved with color photography.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansel_Adams)

Although I shoot in color (RAW), you may have noticed that I often convert my images to black and white. When I shoot an image I don’t necessarily visualize the finished image without color. However, when I get it on my computer and start working with it, sometimes I find the color distracting. At times that can be fixed by controlling the saturation or the white balance, but in other situations taking away the color just makes the image pop – like it did with today’s photo.  This HDR (high dynamic range) image, comprised of eleven (11) frames, was taken during a class with Rick Sammon at the California Photo Festival at the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.

A lot went in to the making of this image. As I mentioned, this HDR is made up of 11 individual photos.  Here is a look a the process behind the final photograph:

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa | HDR Tutorial

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa | HDR Tutorial

  1. I start with all of the images in Lightroom and run a preset to remove all formatting to prepare my images for step two.
  2. Export the images into tonemapping software such as Photomatix Pro . Once a tonemapped image is created and reimported to Lightroom it needs to be adjusted for color and contrast.
  3. To give the image a bit of oomph I edit the photo in  Topaz Adjust for contrast and structure.
  4. In Lightroom I took the image with the added detail from Topaz and warmed the image up using my White Balance and cropped the image. I still wasn’t satisfied and felt the color was distracting.
  5. I decided to remove the distracting color in Nik Silver Efex Pro. I also added a sepia tone which I think works well for the subject.

So, there you have it! A glimpse inside of my creative process. Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how I worked with this image.

Today I am thankful for:

  • New goodies – Today I got new slippers and a new wrap, both handmade by my friend and owner of Kisses ‘N’ Stitches. She makes gorgeous crocheted stuff!
  • Living near shopping centers – When I lived in Europe we lived way out in the country. If my printer ran out of ink and I hadn’t though ahead to order some by mail (which could take a couple of months) I had to drive to a store about an hour away. Today when my printer ran out of ink I ran to the store and was home in under 45 minutes with new cartridges.
  • Date night – Tonight is my hubbie’s turn to plan, I’m looking forward to where the evening takes us! :)

What are you thankful for today?

NaBloPoMo November 2012

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