The Photo

 IW Club sunset Panorama 3-650(Click here for a larger version!)

The Equipment and Settings

The Shooting Conditions

Similar to yesterday’s Photo of the Day, here is another example of managing your dynamic range very carefully.  The original exposure looked like this:

IW Club sunset Panorama

Clearly, we’re cutting it pretty close with both the highlights and the shadows.  Once again, I had to pick my exposure very carefully and then count on recovering image detail.  At first I was at 1/180 sec, but the highlights were just slightly blown out, so I went to 1/250 sec.  On the back of my camera, with Nikon’s “Active D-Lighting” turned all the way up and the contrast turned down a notch or two, this gave me decent looking histogram with highlights that I knew would be usable in post-production.

This technique is usually known as “exposing to the right”, the term that digital photographers use when they are essentially using their histogram to gauge exposure.  Especially critical for one-shot HDR images, this technique is covered in our DVD Workshop for HDR photography, which you can learn about by clicking HERE.

Keep in mind however, the histogram and highlight warning you see on the back of your camera are based on the in-camera processing that the camera applies to the image, not the RAW data itself.  So for example if you crank your in-camera contrast and saturation way up, your highlights and shadows will clip long before the actual RAW image is clipped.  Oppositely, by turning your contrast down and your Active D-Lighting up, your histogram and highlight warning will be a better approximation of the RAW image data.

The Post-Production

After using an HDR portrait preset (similar to yesterday’s image) from the  SLR Lounge Preset System for Adobe Camera Raw, the image looked like this:

IW Club sunset Panorama 2

Since getting to this point took just one click, I had plenty of time to invest in burning and dodging, which was necessary to get the final image to turn out:

IW Club sunset Panorama 3-650

I used brushes for burning & dodging, as well as enhancing details, and adding a little warmth to the sunset.  Voila!

Take care, and happy clicking!
=Matthew Saville=

 Learn HDR Photography

For more HDR education, be sure to check out our HDR Tutorial by SLR Lounge. This comprehensive “gold standard” guide will give you a mastery of HDR photography, from the scene considerations to the actual shooting to the post production. Click here for more info.

The SLR Lounge Preset System

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The SLR Lounge Preset System is designed to enable users to achieve virtually any look and effect within 3-5 simple clicks. From basic color correction, vintage fades, black & white effects, tilt-shift effects, faux HDR, retouching, detail enhancing, and so much more. The sky is the limit with what has been dubbed the most powerful and intuitive preset system available. Click the link above to learn more/purchase!  The SLR Lounge Preset System is now available for both Lightroom 4 and Adobe Camera Raw! (Bridge CS6)

You can also purchase the SLR Lounge Preset System as part of the Lightroom Workshop Collection.

[FAQ: What is HDR Photography?]