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Today I am going to share several versions of one image to further illustrate the HDR process. In the image above I combined 5 exposures using NIK HDR Efex PRO 2. I then started with one of the realistic presets in NIK HDR Efex PRO 2 which I adjusted to my vision for the image. After getting it where I wanted it I created a custom preset that recorded all the adjustments I made to the image. I named the custom preset Pine Mountain #2 and saved it in the custom preset panel in NIK HDR Efex PRO 2 so that I could use it with any image I chose. I then started applying it to some of the single frames from this scene.
I’ll start with this frame which is the -1 EV underexposed frame. As you can see it is very dark and lacks detail in the shadows.
Below is the same image with the Pine Mountain #2 preset applied. It opened up the shadows and brought out a greater color range as well as some shadow detail.
I followed the same process for the 0 EV exposure below. This exposure has better shadow detail than the underexposed frame but it is beginning to show some blown highlights in the upper area, notably the small amount of sky and the mountain laurel leaves.
Once again I applied the Pine Mountain #2 preset I had created earlier to this single frame which produced the image below. There is now more detail in the shadows, the colors are richer but the sky is starting to gray slightly.
Lastly I used the overexposed image with the +1 EV and followed the same procedure with it. Once again the highlights are blown in the sky and on the leaves as well as on the rocks themselves.
This is the overexposed image after applying the Pine Mountain #2 preset.
Once again there is marked improvement both in the highlights and in the shadows but it still isn’t as rich as the first image in this post that was created by merging multiple exposures in NIK HDR Efex PRO 2.
My conclusion from this experiment is that; while there is increased detail in the shadows, better highlights and increased tonal range available when using NIK HDR Efex PRO 2 on a single image; the use of multiple exposures produces a richer more detailed image. I stand corrected regarding my earlier post about the differences in single vs multiple image HDR processing and the results that are attainable.
I hope this helps my readers and that they benefit from my exploration and experimentation with the NIK HDR Efex PRO 2 software. I feel certain that these results are repeatable regardless of which software is used be it Photoshop, NIK, Photomatix or any of the myriad of other HDR programs out there.