In my never ending quest for class projects, I recently found myself reading through 50 Photo Projects by Lee Frost. I have been a big fan of Lee Frost’s books over the years and his most recent book does not disappoint. I came away with a few jewels of wisdom and the inspiration to try some new things. One of my first projects was to give HDR a try. For those not familiar with HDR, it is a process by which multiple exposures of the same image are merged together into a single image. The level of detail that HDR reveals is far beyond anything previously possible in photography.
So I read through the section on HDR with interest. What really caught my attention is Lee Frost’s suggestion that it is not necessary to capture multiple exposures to benefit from HDR. As a wildlife photographer, I spend my time photographing active subjects. Animals are constantly in motion and it is rare that I am able to capture multiple exposures of a subject without any movement. Fortunately, by adjusting the exposure value of a single RAW image file, it is possible to simulate the HDR process and increase the apparent dynamic range all without the need to spend hours fine tuning in Photoshop.
Of course, reading about it is one thing, but actually doing it is something else. For my test, I decided to work with a wildlife image that i took two years ago in the Serengeti. The image included a large herd of wildebeest under a dramatic sky. Unfortunately, the contrast was too much and several attempts in Photoshop have never produced the results I was looking for. Enter Photomatix. Photomatix is an HDR software program that I kept hearing about. Its ease of use and quality results make it one of the industry leaders so I downloaded the trial version and took it for a test run. Tell me what you think.
In case you were wondering, I purchased the full version of Photomatix right after creating this image.