Images & Observations

Melvin Get’s A Glamour Treatment: An exercise in HDR, tone mapping & using the adjustment brush

Nikon D80 18-135mm 52mm ISO 200 1/200 f/7.1 PSE8

Melvin is one of the family cars.  His glamour treatment started with a spa day when he got a good washing.  Today the “photo-cosmetologist” did his “make-up”.  This was an opportunity for me to practice my skills creating quasi-HDR images. doing tone maping, and using the adjustment brush in Lightroom.

The set of images in this blog posting came from three single exposure camera raw files, converted to DNG by Photoshop Elements (when originally processd earlier this year), then imported to Lightroom today, then exported to and converted to quasi-HDR images by Photomatix (4) which created three variations of each individual DNG file at 2.5 EV separations as part of the process, Photomatix also offered up tone mapping pre-sets which were selected before the final images were returned to Lightroom as TIF’s

Nikon D80 18-135mm 38mm ISO 200 1/400 f/10 PSE8 PMX4 Lr3

Within Lightroom I used one of its tone mapping pre-sets as a starting point and then made slight changes in overall saturation and brightness for the image above.  I also began practicing my adjustment brush technique by darkening the car hood and grill which were blown out.

Nikon D80 18-135mm 62mm ISO 200 1/200 f/5.6 PSE8 PMX4 Lr3

On the next image, above, I also applied a Lightroom tone-mapping preset, and tweaked overall saturation and  brightness.  I practiced more with the adjustment brush, but I went a little too far burning in the hood where it meets the grill, it almost looks like someone put a bad paint job on a body patch.  I started getting the hang of the adjustment brush when I dodged the tire, wheel well, and wheel hub behind the wheel cover. I also burned in the headlight, brightened and increased saturation on the side lights, and dodged the GM logo on the door to highlight it.

In the third image I got really carried away with dodging out highlights in the background with the adjustment brush as a technique to isolate Melvin from the distractions behind him, I also burned in Melvin’s windshield to de-emphasize the car behind him, and dodged his wheel cover with the adjustment brush. I think the ultimate result, though, was a failure of conception and execution.  As I progress in learning my new tools I expect to master masking techniques so that I could more “cleanly” just eliminate all background image, or evenly desaturate the background elements or, with the right tool, easily throw all of the image elements in the background out of focus.

None of the images in today’s post would be considered exceptional by any experienced and skilled user of these tools, but these exercises have resulted in my becoming more skilled and comfortable with the Lightroom tool kit.  My work can only get better as I practice my craft.

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