So this is the last of the Yosemite pictures for a little while. Let’s call this a bonus shot. This was taken right at sunset looking up the Merced River from Sentinel Bridge. If the clouds had cleared, Half Dome would be straight ahead and the moon, full, just to the right. The bridge was packed and people were disappointed. Maybe I didn’t get some iconic shot, that’s ok, I like this.
This is one of the few times I have finished any HDR in Photoshop CS5 because I typically use Photomatrix Pro 4 and before that PaintShopPro X2. When I say finished, it is not for lack of trying, it just takes a lot of fussing with controls to get things right and one wrong move and you could take a while to get back to it. Maybe it is the lack of good presets, I mean really, “Photorealistic” seems anything but on everything I have tried it on. The thing is, they don’t seem to even get you all that close. It sort of reminds me of American automobiles with diesel engines back in the 80s, they modded some gas motors to run on diesel, they sucked and broke and then everyone went back to gas because diesels sucked, meanwhile, the rest of the word got better diesels that didn’t suck. Is Adobe trying to diesel HDR or are they just trying to add the check box to the feature list? Who knows and really, who am I to criticize anyway. I’ll leave that to the pros (btw, follow the link for a Photoshop HDR preset you can use and Scott Kelby saying “I use this preset to create the 5-image HDR image above. I show this same image on my Google+ page earlier in the week, but I had processed that version with Photomatix Pro 4 instead”).
So for the sake of this project I took a set I made at in Yosemite this last weekend and processed them in Photoshop CS5.1 HDR Pro and Photomatrix Pro 4.1. My goal was to realistic with some extra saturation to make it pop. I have posted JPGs of the three shots, they are one stop apart and looking at them now, one more a step darker would have helped bring out more detail in the granite and clouds but we process the images we have, not the images we wish we had, right Mr. Rumsfeld?
While the two images are similar, they are not the same, the biggest difference though is processing time. The Photoshop HDR Pro image took at least 30 minutes for this particular set. This does not count all the sets I examined and the many many failures while looking for a candidate that I could work with and finding the settings that did what I wanted them to do. While researching settings and adjustments, I also found this handy article on post processing HDR.
Meanwhile, Photomatrix defaults, while not perfect, get you into a ballpark that can be easily manipulated to dial things in. This image below took about five minutes.
By the way, if you want to practice HDR and don’t have images to play with, Photomatrix has a few sets you can use on their download page.
As a notice of disclosure, the Cow in Pasture image that is in the current header of this site was put through the Photoshop CS5.1 HDR pro processor. The “Reduce ghost” feature did exactly what the Adobe product videos show it doing for the foreground grass. It was then further enhanced in Photoshop.