Before and After No 6

Its been awhile since I've wrote on my site and thought I'd do some work on some older images using the newer software we now have in 2020 as well as my improved post processing skills. 

This particular image was a 3 exposure image orginally processed by me in late 2009 in an HDR effect that was popular back then.  I orginally liked how this image turned out, especially the lighting effect created on the autum tree foliage but I just never liked the stark cloudless empty blue sky which was made even worse by the HDR effect.  Unfortunarely the image really was not very realistic and had a kind of cartoonish look to it. 

At that time, I used Lightroom (no mobile or classic back then) and Photomatix HDR plugin. It was basically a default HDR conversion using the Realistic preset provided in the plugin. 

Orignal processed HDR from 2009

Since 2009 we have seen some amazing developments in the software we use along with new AI processing options. Today my workflow includes Lightroom and Photoshop with Raya Pro 5.0 for Luminousity Mask blending to give a more natural exposure blending. I also use Skylum Luminar 4 plugin for tweeking the image as well as replacing the sky.

First a little about the photograph.

This photograph is of the The Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, a major war memorial to 72,090 missing British and Commonwealth men who died in the Battle of the Somme of the First World War and who have no known grave. It is located in France near village of Thiepval, Picardie. The memorial is a sobering and thought provoking experience for anyone who visits.

The image unfortunately was a rather quick grab as we did not have time to visit the memorial thoroughly. It was late afternoon with strong back-lighting so I grabbed 3 bracket exposures (handheld) biased to +1 and +2 so I could deal with the hard contrasting light in post production later.

Working on the image in 2020.

First I processed the original 3 RAW exposures in Lightroom Classic CC. General Lightroom RAW conversion settings were limited mainly to updating the process version from 1.0 to 5.0, the most recent version in Lightroom.

Exposure 0 EV

Exposure +1 EV

Exposure +2EV

I blended the exposures in Photoshop using the Raya Pro 5.0 plugin to blend the exposures to bring out the shadows and lighting on the trees. I feel this Exposure Blend version is much more natural then the one button press version from 2009.

Blended exposures processed in 2020.

After blending the exposures, I then imported the image into Lumianr via the Photoshop plugin and processed the image in Luminar4. I don't like Luminar as a stand alone program but prefer to use it as a plugin in Photoshop. One reason I do because of Smart Filers which allows me to go into the plugin to adjust or change settings.

Scroll through the differnt slides below to see the effects applied and the settings used.

After the adjustments in Luminar and the placement of a subtle vignette in Lightroom, I'm very happy with the result. I feel its a much more natural look to the blending of the different exposures. The colour saturation is more natural and not over the top like in the 2009 HDR. I feel the sky replacement adds much more interest then the boring stark blue sky of the orginal.

Before After

Slide to see before and after of the HDR from 2009 and the blended image in 2020 with sky replacement.

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