I shoot in raw format. I've heard arguments on both sides on whether shooting raw is good or bad. It does take extra time to process raw photos but in my opinion it is well worth it.
Lets use the photo above as an example. Back in June I went out to the Wayside Inn specifically to photograph the Grist Mill above. There was a function going on and the area was crowded. I didn't have as much time as I would of liked to setup. This was also a time when I just started getting back into photography and I was a little rusty. Most of my photo's from that day were over exposed as you can see from this past post here as well.
I've been spending time perfecting my Photoshop skills, which I really enjoy doing. Lately I've been experimenting with High Dynamic Range imaging (HDR). HDR is a technique that allows a greater dynamic range of luminances between light and dark areas of a scene. The tonal range capable with HDR is greater than today's camera's can capture.
Because I shoot in raw format, I'm able to load my photo into Adobe Camera RAW. Once in this program I can do many things like correct white balance. The feature I'm discussing to day though is the ability to change the exposure setting. In camera raw I can go ahead and adjust the exposure to say -2 like this.
While the roof and the sky looks better, the rest of the building is now too dark. I also created a photo that was over exposed by +2. Not really sure if it is needed for the HDR I came up with but when you set your camera to bracket automatically it will bracket both sides of the exposure you have set. Here is my +2 photo ...
Now that I have 3 photo's to work with I open them up in a program called Photomatix. From what I've heard this is the best program out there. The program merges the photo's together. It spends time aligning things, but because the way I created my range of photo's it is not really needed. Keep in mind the proper way to shoot HDR is to bracket you photo's in camera so chances are each photo will be a little different. The last step is to create a tonal map. Within this step there are a few options that you can tweak to adjust the photo to your taste. I did not spend much time here opting to do these steps in Photoshop.
Here is the finished product. The reds came out really bright so I toned down the saturation in PS as well as performed a little sharpening. Still not the perfect picture, but one that is a little better than what it looked like right out of camera. This works well for monochromes also as seen below.
While taking our little history tour last Saturday we stopped at the Wayside Inn in Sudbury, MA. The Wayside Inn is historic landmark, both an old inn as well as a tavern. It has been serving travelers for almost 300 years.
Pictured here is a Grist Mill that can be found on the Wayside Inn property. This mill was built in 1929 and could produce 5 tons of flour per year. Pepperidge Farm used the mill as a full-time production facility from the years of 1952-1967.