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on Mar 1, 2012 in K&M Adventures, Landscape Photography

The Mittens, HDR or Not?

You must understand, this is an incredibly gorgeous, inspirational landscape! I could pull up a chair and sit and stare at the Mitten ALL day long all year long and be very happy! That’s not the same as saying I could sit in the same spot and take photographs of the same view all day long and be happy. The difference? Sitting there you feel the breeze, the bite of the air, the smell of frybread (a real weakness) and the sounds of life. You get NONE of that from a photograph. That’s when the creative, the romantic needs to step in and turn the photo into a feeling that someone not sitting on the edge can feel from the photograph. That’s a huge task!

The top photo is what I saw. While it’s a gorgeous view and I love it, the photograph is….ho hum. I mean, does it really make you want to get out to Monument Valley and stand in the cold to get the same photo? If you’re a romantic, perhaps but it’s a stretch. What’s missing to pull you in, to grab your heartstrings? If you look at any Navajo art, you’d see rich reds and dark blues. Why, because those colors tug big time at the romantic in any person. What two colors are missing from this original capture? Blue and red…ouch! What you see above is the original image processed in just ACR. Using the Luminance panel, the blues are brought down and the reds brought up and while better then the straight capture, it’s still not that romantic capture. That sounds over simpliflied but that romance is so important. (Really, see my Romancing the Landscape 3pt class at Kelby Training if you think I’m kidding)

Looking at the out of the camera view, you might now think HDR was needed. Most think of HDR for times when the light range is beyond the five stop range of our HDSLR. There are two aspects to light I’m always personally thinking about when shooting, quality and quantity. Under the quality category comes color and that’s what we’re missing here in the out of the camera image. We get a little back when processed in ACR but look what comes from a simple 5 image HDR…amazing! Where I start with -1 to -2 dialed in for my normal HDR, in this case I started at Zero because I wasn’t going after Quantity of light but rather Quality, the color aspect. What is here is straight out of Photomatix Pro, no PS added. We now have that Navajo blue and red in our photo. I wanted to show how using realistic HDR for color rather then compacting exposure can bring romance to a photograph. If there is any place on this planet where you should have your love standing next to you to watch the sun set, this is top on the list. That’s what you want in your photograph!