Lonely tree in Rancho Palos Verdes...
I'm getting a lot of e-mails about my processing so I decided to show my workflow. I hope this doesn't appear to be an act of vanity.
It's really no different than what most people are doing. I strongly suggest taking the Free HDR tutorial at www.stuckincustoms.com that's how I learned.
1.RAWs are cleaned up in lightroom and made into jpegs (I use -2 to +2 unless I'm shooting into the sun, then it's -5 to +3)
2.Photomatix Details Enhancer set to Default and then I crank up the streangth all the way and play around with a few sliders to make it look as close to the ZERO source file as possible (very important)
3. Tone-mapped image and 1 maybe 2 source files into PS
4. I then mask in all of the parts with motion from the source files. Also mask in any sections that Photomatix turned to noise or messed up the light.
5. Get rid of any noise using Topaz Denoise or NIK Define...always selectively, never globally becasue it takes away detail.
6. Topaz adjust for a little pop and detail work
7. If it needs it, I use Topaz Details (less is more with details)
8. A high pass filter, never above 0.8 and never globally.
9. Often an image overlay at about 10%
10 Now the "creative part begins (I can't help you here, it's all a blank canvas at this point.) I use NIK color Efex (tonal contrast, pro contrast, skylight enhancer, reflector or something and a couple others) Then the big daddy of all HDR software, I couldn't get by without it........Photo Tools from OnOne Software...this is the bee's knees if you're not a PS ace. Keep in mind that any of this software is for people that aren't PS experts (that's me.) All of this can be done in PS.
11. Clean-up color and white balance in lightroom add a vignette if I want and that's it.
If anyone knows of a tone-mapping program better than Photomatix, please share. I'm really not happy with the cartoon effect it adds to my images. My goal is to create life-like images that look like it came out of a camera and not a computer at ILM or Dreamworks. I'm looking to add light and detail, nothing more.
Not HDR Efex Pro, that's no better than an iPhone.