Thunderstorm Cloud Opening, Grasses, HDR

Ione, Amador County, CA

Finally!  An HDR photograph.  I have not processed one for quite a few months even though I will still take bracketed shots when I believe there might be too much dynamic range in a scene.  It is just that the end results of my HDR photographs look so unnatural that end up using and working only 1 of the 3 exposure.

This photograph is the last of the 2 which will see the light of day.  Spot metered both the center of the cloud opening and the foreground grass.  The difference was greater than 2 stops, so bracketing was set for 3 exposures at [-2,0,+2].  The tricky part of this HDR attempt were the swaying of the foreground grass as it was slightly breezy.  I had two options: wait until maybe the breeze dies down (and possibly miss the cloud opening) or shoot away and hope the HDR software can minimize the ghosting artifacts.  I choose the shoot away option.

In the last few attempts at HDR, I have been using Nik Software’s HDR Pro, mainly because of its integration with Adobe Lightroom.  The glaring problem with HDR Pro is that its anti-ghosting abilities did not render the photograph well.  Either the ghosting was obvious or extreme haloing around those areas occurred.  So what next?

Back to the old standby: Photomatix Pro.  Ghosting of the swaying grass is nearly non-existent.  The only problem?  The clouds were not as structured/defined as HDR Pro.  This was the processing option I chose as I would rather remove the distracting ghosting over more dramatic clouds.  (Yes, I just opted for less dramatic clouds!)

Finally in Lightroom, I increased the contrast to darken the photograph a bit.  Even though the scene was actually brighter, having an even lit composition takes away from the focal point: the cloud opening.  The grass leads the eye up the photograph but it should not overwhelm the focal point.  Hopefully you agree, or if not, let me know why.

The other thunderstorm post from the same day: Summer Thunderstorm, Oak Pastures

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, spot metering mode, 55mm, ISO 800, [1/4, 1/15, 1/60 sec], f/16

Thunderstorm Cloud Opening, Grasses.  Ione (Amador County), CA. August 04, 2012. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.

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