Silver Lake, Non-HDR

To HDR or Not HDR…

As many of you know, I’ve really gotten the HDR bug.  But there are times when I wonder if I’ve overcooked an image.  Today was one of those times.  Here’s what I’m talking about.

Silver Lake, HDR

Above – HDR image of Silver Lake, taken with my Sony NEX3, processed in Photomatix and Photoshop CS6.

After I finished processing the image above, I posted it on my Facebook page, and then to Google +.  The reception was ok.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell if people are just being polite or they really like what’s posted.  The reason I’m bringing this up is because I personally wasn’t thrilled with this shot.  It’s hard to put my finger on it, but it just seems a little too realistic.  Everything is sharp, contrasty, and vivid.  Doesn’t it seem strange that I think it could be better without the HDR effects?

Back to the drawing board!  Here’s the original image:

Silver Lake, original ooc image

Above – Original image, out of the camera except for resizing and watermark, from my Sony NEX3.

As you can see, the original image leaves a lot to be desired.  The lighting is flat and uninteresting.  There’s also not a lot of contrast or sharpness, but some of this is due to the way I have the camera set.  I typically use minimal in-camera enhancements, preferring to make the adjustments on the computer (my personal preference).

Just in case you’re wondering, the settings on my NEX3 are:

  • f/5.0
  • 1/30th second
  • ISO 250
  • Auto White Balance

Instead of running multiple images (with different exposures) through Photomatix for HDR processing, I brought the original image into Photoshop CS6 and adjusted the contrast, sharpness, color saturation, and gave it a subtle vignette.  Here’s the result:

Silver Lake, Non-HDR

Above – single image from Sony NEX3, processed in Photoshop CS6, non-HDR.

I really think the image above is better than the HDR version at the top of this post.  The differences are subtle, but enough to change the feeling I get when I look at it.  The non-HDR version seems to better reflect my memory of that warm, beautiful morning when I was out for one of my many walks along the lake’s shoreline (with my 2 Cairn Terriers of course).

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!