Head for the hills

Chris Rut­ter shows how you can get HDR land­scapes by shoot­ing and com­bin­ing images

NPhoto - - Special Feature -

Use HDR tech­niques to cap­ture land­scapes and skies with more than one ex­po­sure and then blend them to­gether later

When you shoot land­scapes where the sky is much brighter than the fore­ground, the level of con­trast makes it im­pos­si­ble to keep de­tail in both ar­eas. The tra­di­tional way to keep de­tail in both would be to use a grad­u­ated neu­tral den­sity fil­ter, but if you don’t have th­ese there are al­ter­na­tive solutions.

One way to cap­ture de­tail in all ar­eas is to shoot three images, one ex­posed for the shad­ows, one for the mid-tones and one for the high­lights, and com­bine them to­gether in spe­cial soft­ware. This is known as high dy­namic range (HDR) imag­ing, and it’s a great way to cap­ture more high­light and shadow de­tail. How­ever, it can be easy to over-cook the ad­just­ments avail­able in HDR soft­ware, pro­duc­ing gar­ish, un­re­al­is­tic re­sults.

There is a sim­ple al­ter­na­tive tech­nique that you can use for many scenes, which avoids many of the pit­falls of con­ven­tional HDR imag­ing.

It can be easy to over-cook the ad­just­ments avail­able in HDR soft­ware, pro­duc­ing gar­ish, un­re­al­is­tic re­sults… There is an al­ter­na­tive tech­nique that you can use for many scenes

You sim­ply take at least two images, one ex­posed cor­rectly for the sky and an­other ex­posed cor­rectly for the fore­ground. You then com­bine them us­ing a Layer Mask in Pho­to­shop or El­e­ments, re­veal­ing the cor­rectly ex­posed parts of both pho­to­graphs.

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