Monday, October 18, 2010

Nik Software - HDR Efex - first impression - Pittsburgh Wedding Photography

This is not a full review of the software but it is my initial impression.  - Outstanding piece of software!  Download the trial today and play with it.  The software is well worth the fun time involved and is unlike any of the other HDR software products I attempted to use.  I tried nearly every HDR software on the market from Photomatix to Photoshop CS5's HDR blend mode.  None of them were very intuitive nor did they create a look that I wanted.  For most of my 'HDR' work, I used Topaz Adjust (until now) with good success. 

Over the weekend I had the privilege of photographing an engagement shoot in Seven Springs, PA.  The  weather was perfect and the sky was beautiful.  I could have spent all day photographing the scenery (and I am not a typical landscape photographer so this is not my normal photo routine)

The software works seamlessly with Lightroom and all of Nik's other plugins.  I used HDR Efex Pro with the complete collection and added a little touch where needed.  My first recommendation is to download the 15 day trial and watch the many free webinars hosted by Nik Software.

The first and third image is the inside of a beautiful living room owned by 'groom' to be.  Both images are made up of  a five image bracketed shot and processed using the 'realistic' preset.  I added control points on the windows, doors, and a few other places to bring out the outside scenery.

The second image is processed with some stronger controls taking it to the next level in viewing pleasure.  I loved the textures and overall look of the scene.  This image is 7 bracketed stops. Nikon D300 - tripod for stability. (standing on the side of the road wasn't very secure.  :-D )

If you own the collection, call Nik Software and inquire about their upgrade package deals.  HDR Efex pro might even be free, depending when you bought your collection.

So why is HDR important for indoor room photography?  In the past, when I would shoot these types of shots, there were always many challenges.

Lighting - something would get blown out in the scene and getting the windows to look 'natural' was almost impossible under 'normal' circumstances.

Either extreme dark or light spots would be present in the scene and it would be nearly impossible to correct. 

I plan to experiment more with indoor architectural type shots using accent lighting and other methods to enhance the scene. 

All of these were done on a tripod which makes for a nicer, crisper image.  Shoot with the lowest ISO possible and ensure you utilize either manual or aperture priority, keeping the aperture constant throughout the bracketed images.  Changing only the shutter speed or the exposure compensation.  Do not change the ISO or the aperture. 
Before you run the bracketed shots through HDR Efex, I adjusted the white balance and cropping to be the exact same for all 5-7 images.  This will help with the overall image. More of these type of shots to follow.

Get out and enjoy the beauty of God's creation!