Angel of the Waters

 

This is my first attempt at an HDR photograph. I know a lot of folks aren't in to HDR and think it's kind of visually offensive; however I think a lot of that perception comes from  the more extreme examples of HDR images, which tend to look very surreal. On top of impossible color and shading resulting from crazy tone mapping, a lot of these are taken with extreme wide angle lenses that further the abstract appearance. HDR has matured quite a bit though and, as can be seen with the above photo, HDRs can be fairly naturalistic. This photo, a 7-exposure HDR taken at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park was processed with Nik HDR Efex Pro, which I chose to get my feet wet with based mainly on the fact that Nik offers a 15 day full-featured trial; rather than use Photomatix which watermarks trial version images. I've played with a few images now and I'm really enjoying using this software. It comes as a plugin to Lightroom and Photoshop, though so far I've done all my HDR processing right inside of Lightroom and used Photoshop mainly to clean up the image. This was a 7-shot image with people moving through the frame so there was a lot of ghosting artifacts in the processed image. I had to take do some masking with one of the original stills to get the mostly clean image you see above. I have to give thanks to one of my favorite photographers, Trey Ratcliff, whose amazing photography really got me interested in HDR work and whose online tutorial really helped me with the technique. I'm looking forward to creating more of these in the near future.