I occasionally use multiple images stacked to balance exposures in HDR. Not particularly either a “Nikon or Leica” thing (I shoot on both), but it is a well used process in landscape and architectural work.
That said, I have a pet hate – over processed and overblown. So I processed an image taken a while back on the Nikon D800, at Kinderdijk, in the Netherlands. 5 images in fact, bracketed. I have tried to be fair on the images, by correcting some obvious colour and contrast issues, but I wanted to see how the original, a “balanced HDR” and a “painterly HDR” look when compared. Photomatix Pro 5 was used, as it allows rather more fine tuning than the native HDR processing in Lightroom or Photoshop.
First, the best of the bracketed exposures, single shot, processed lightly for contrast and shadows in Lightroom. I think it looses something in the shadows, and lacks definition in the clouds.
Second, what I consider to be a fairly “balanced” HDR, limiting the contrast and colours. I used the “default” setting in Photomatix, and then finished in Lightroom. I like the way it pulls up the shadows without overdoing the clouds, though maybe a bit “artificial” in terms of the direction of the light. HDR tends to punch the shadows heavily. I left the colour pretty much as the original.
I then took down the rather exaggerated shadows in highlights in the HDR, in Lightroom. Seems more natural?
And thank you, Anu Garg for suggesting this.
Finally, using Photomatix’ “Painterly” mode. I actually found the result so overblown that this is dialled back a bit in Lightroom. I have to admit we see a lot of images using this setting published around the web. It’s way too much for my taste. Shadows are meant to be shadows
I believe HDR is a totally valid approach, but should be used with a lot of moderation.
To me, image 3 wins.
But what do you think?