Extending the dynamic range & creating the mood

Life as a tea harvester

Life as a tea-harvester, photographed with a Nikon D810 and Nikon AF-S 35/1.8G ED during my recent trip to Cameron Highland for assignment.

So how do I made this photo?  This post will show you what I did and what I used in the process.

Before & After extending DR

The original scene was severely backlighted, which are having a very big dynamic range (From the brightest part to the darkest part) that a typical camera can’t retain.  To extend the range, normally you can opt to do a traditional HDR, or use a fill-light and etc.  But, that is not what I did;  Instead, if you use the new generation of Nikon cameras, the shadow/under-exposed part of the images are actually containing a lot more details that our eye can’t see when its shot right out of camera.  You can create amazing results with a carefully-underexposed photograph.  (Read this for more info)

For best result, shoot your picture in RAW file, I’ve set my camera to 14bits loseless compressed file in this case.

The RAW file are then go thru basic tweaks in Lightroom 5.  Depend on situation, you can start with recovering the highlight, brighten up the shadow, and then adjust the rest from there.  Play around with clarity & contrast.

With a RAW file, you can also play-around with the WB settings to get the color mood that are suitable to your envisioned photo.

DR Extended (No Flare)

Voila, after a quick adjustment in LR, this is what I got, you can stop here if you want but I take a step further in Photoshop to enhance the mood of the photo.

I’ve use a 3rd party plug in to create a custom lens-flare to blend into the final shot; To make it more convincing, you have to masked out certain area to block the flare/effects from appearing in the wrong place especially the main subject & shadows.

With the new ‘Focus-area’ selection tool in Photoshop CC 2014, the tedious process can be done in few clicks now if your photo has a good subject isolation (aka clear and smooth BOKEH VS the sharp subject)

Life as a tea harvester

Voila!  This is the final photo that has extended dynamic range and also a sun-rise mood as what I’ve imagined.

If you like this, do share with your friends and If you are interested to learn more in detail, do let me know as I am having some post-processing workshops coming soon.

Thanks and enjoy photography!

 

 

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