STEP BY STEP / Two be­come one

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

1 Open in Cam­era Raw

Typ­i­cally HDR im­ages will be made us­ing three, five, seven or more ex­po­sures, but this can be overkill. Here, two ex­po­sures were enough to cap­ture de­tail in the bright sky and dark fore­ground. Ctrl-click to se­lect both files in Bridge, then right-click and pick Open in Cam­era Raw.

2 Re­move sharp­en­ing

Press Ctrl+A to se­lect both files; your changes will now af­fect both. Go to the De­tail panel and set Sharp­en­ing to 0, rather than 25 (it’s bet­ter to sharpen the merged file later). Go to the Lens Cor­rec­tion panel, click on the Color tab and check Re­move Chromatic Aber­ra­tion.

3 Merge to HDR

Click on the fly-out menu at the top-left of the film­strip and choose Merge to HDR. Use Auto-align if there’s mis­align­ment be­tween frames, and check Auto-tone. Pick a Deghost set­ting to counter move­ment be­tween frames (Medium works here). Hit Merge, then Save.

4 En­hance the tones

Now it’s sim­ply a case of en­hanc­ing the im­age in the same way as any land­scape, with the bonus that it’s eas­ier to tease out de­tail in high­lights and shad­ows. First use the Ba­sic panel to add Clar­ity and Sat­u­ra­tion, then grab the Ad­just­ment Brush from the Tool­bar.

5 Darken the sky

Check Auto-mask in the Ad­just­ment Brush set­tings, and click on the mi­nus icon on the Ex­po­sure slider twice for -1. Paint over the sky to darken it (hit Y to see where you’ve painted). Next hit N for a new ad­just­ment, then dial in pos­i­tive ex­po­sure and paint over the land.

6 Tidy the im­age

Hit Open to bring the im­age into Pho­to­shop. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+J to du­pli­cate the layer, then grab the Spot Heal­ing Brush tool and use it to re­move messy spots, like the drops of water on the lens. Use Dodge and Burn to fur­ther en­hance the tones un­til you’re happy.

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