This photo was taken at night, and as with night photos, details like lighting must be taken into account before, during, and after the shot. You can easily tell that the large sign on the left is illuminated by a bright light, but when the overall shot is exposed, the light over-saturates the sign and the middle of it (the "brighter" portion) is completely unreadable. I thought about this as I set up my tripod to take this shot, and my first few shots were taken with a shutter speed of of 3/10 of a second to capture the "middle" of the sign without it being overly saturated by the flood light. Once I was happy with that portion, I proceeded to take the shots that would make the "rest" of the photo (the one I ended up deciding on was taken with a shutter speed of 8 seconds).
Once I got home I actually exported both sets of images at +2, 0, and -2 (over-exposed, original, and under-exposed) and using the power of Photoshop merged the second image with only the middle of the sign from the first image on all three exposure settings to create an entirely readable sign. I did this by selecting the area that I wanted to merge using the lasso tool and tweaking the brightness of that selection using Viveza (Control Point technology is so GREAT!). Once I had each of the images merged, I then went through my normal HDR process (Photomatix, HDR Efex, Topaz Labs' DeNoise and InFocus, and Nik's Color Efex Pro and Viveza).
One step I added to this shot, instead of my normal desaturation as one of the final steps, I created a black and white image using Color Efex and merged that with the full color image. I like the way that this process desaturated the photo while retaining the darker areas, so much so that I think that is going to be my new method of desaturation in all of my processed photos in the future.
The overall processing time of this photo took about four hours as I tweaked portions of it to get the photo exactly how I wanted it to look. I knew that it would be a fairly lengthy process when I set up for the shot, but I think every second that I spent on the photo was totally worth it. I truly hope that you concur! The only question that I have about the photo....is this really the "World's Largest Mistletoe"?
I appreciate any comments or feedback (either here on the blog or in my smugmug gallery). Please feel free to click on the photo to view it in various sizes. Also feel free to "Like" my HDR Photography Fan Page on Facebook (see that little Facebook box to the right? It takes you right there!) You can get updates on new photos, posts, and projects I am working on there. Plus you can also be alerted every time I post a new photo. As always, thanks for stopping by!
World's Largest Mistletoe
(And, as a side note, if you are in/around/near San Antonio during the Christmas holidays, I highly recommend visiting Sea World and taking in the shows and various displays in person (as well as the new baby penguins which I'm hoping to take photos of today!))