11 March 2012
I blew it.
I took an interesting photo with the K-5 recently.. but I blew the highlights. I also used jpeg and so blew the opportunity to make it better with some easy processing. It wasn't too badly blown though, so I decided to pull it into Elements 9 to see what could be done.
Once I had it in I did a quick crop and a bit of rotation, to eliminate a lot of boring background. At that point I could use my SmartCcurve plugin and adjust colors to get things looking a bit better. In this case I decided to use my new ReDynamix plugin, which can do many of those things and offers the opportunity to add some HDR-type effects as well.
I've mentioned in the past that HDR is not my cup of tea, at least not the typical "HDR!!" that I often see online. That sort makes great images for fantasy-epic novel covers, but for capturing something that I experience on planet Earth I just don't get it. I found ReDynamix online for cheap (and a free trial) and found that it could be restrained to my less ambitious style, so it now has a bit of space on my hard drive for images like this and days like today to play with them.
In the RyDynamix module I knocked down the gamma to allow for some reduction of the overexposure, then played with the sliders. I generally turn down saturation and vivid-color choices, then tone down the dynamic-light strength to about half what it chooses as its default. From there I move things around a bit, and then moved over to curves and color-enhancement modules. I found the tree beginning to look like a series of peeling brass pipes, and I liked it - so I nailed down the HDR portion, added a pinch of sharpening and came up with the lower image.
I like the result here, as it brought back much of the blown-out areas. It also saturated the colors and adjusted the balance without proclaiming itself an "HDR!!" masterwork. And it took less than ten minutes of processing on a jpeg image. I still prefer the raw option, but it's good to know I can improve on a non-raw image without breaking it. This image was taken with my 'new' SMC-M 40mm pancake lens - I owned this once many years ago, sold it in 2008 when I bought into Sony's system. I missed this lens when I returned to Pentax, and this copy looks like a good one. Gosh it's thin!
p.s. if you don't recognize the tree, I assure you it's not sick and dying - it's a madrone/madrona tree, Arbutus menziesii, and its peeling bark is a giveaway. It should be more red, but when the brassiness came over it in processing I enjoyed it.. so much for realism in my imaging, I suppose!