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Radiant Light, Sunset, Mono Lake

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 26 October 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - November 3-7, 2010 (Workshop Sold Out)
Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 (only 1 spot remaining)
Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 16-20, 2011
(Workshop Sold Out)
Spring Big Sur Workshop - 4th Annual Wildflowers and Color - April 17-20, 2011 (space available)
Springtime in Lake Tahoe and the Mokelumne Wilderness Photo Workshop - May 14-17, 2011 (space available)
Northern California - 3rd Annual Redwoods and Mendocino Photo Workshop - May 23-26, 2011 (space available)
Second Annual Garden Isle and Tropical Paradise - Kauai Photo Workshop - July 8-12, 2011 (hurry - only 5 spots remaining)
New Articles on my Website: Combining Beauty With Beauty - Photographing An Athlete In Big Sur With The Help Of Smart Flashes And Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 Remotes and Behind the Scenes at NHL and NBA Media Days

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Books Available for Purchase on my Website:
Refined Vision: 50 Lessons Designed to Improve Your Digital Landscape Photography (e-book and printed versions - 160 pages)
The Photographer's Guide to the Big Sur Coast (e-book version - 102 pages)
On the Edge (printed version - softcover and hardcover - 120 pages)

I have really vacillated when it comes to HDR software. Initially I was excited when I saw my first HDR image at the possibilities of overcoming the camera's limitations of recording a dynamic range close to that of the human eye. The first breakthrough software was Photomatix (see link below). I became so enthralled with the possibilities that I became a beta-tester with the European company and was granted affiliate status.

Over time I became less enthralled due to the limitations of blending motion (i.d. clouds, leaves, branches, foliage, etc.) well you get the point. Most of my skies, when viewed at 100% magnification revealed tell-tale aberrations and abysmal noise.

Then Nik Software threw their hat into the HDR ring and have finally released HDR Efex Pro, and once again, I am excited about HDR! Take today's image of this contrasty sunset scene at Mono Lake. This would be tough to grad and would take forever to blend in Photoshop; this was a great test for the new software.

Nik makes their software so intuitive that the learning curve is basically nil. They offer tabs of presets as a starting point (and sometimes that will be all you will need). I started with the Realistic tab and chose their first preset and I was off and running. I just needed to darken the tufa in the foreground and add a bit of contrast, which was simple with their patented U-Point technology. I also wanted to darken the reflection just a tad - one more U-Point and done!

The noise in the sky was negligible and the clouds (though moving) aligned perfectly! One can really get carried away with all the possibilities this program offers. It works best in 64-bit mode in Photoshop CS5. I will be revisiting many of my bracketed sequences and spend many hours playing with this amazing software. The algorithms written for this software are incredible. Nik has done it again!

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of HDR Efex Pro please click on the link blow and use my code for a 15% discount off this or any Nik product.

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