Last night I headed over to see a client and drop off some images. As usual I had a camera and a couple of lenses in the boot, and as the evening light was becoming increasingly appealing as sunset approached I decided to take a bit of a detour on my way back. I drove around a little looking for something that would make a decent foreground and eventually ended up passing these trees off to my right through a gap in a hedgerow. I quickly did a u-turn and pulled over. This was probably around 45 minutes before the sun was scheduled to set. Right from the get go, even with a .9 ND Grad, I could tell this was going to be an HDR image in order to capture both the hightlights and the shadows. The series of images below show the five different exposures that went into making the top image. The first image at 1/30 sec shows that there are no blown highlights anywhere in the frame, though the shadow areas are all lost. The final frame at 1/2 sec shows the sky completely blown out, but we do actually have some definition in the shadows of the trees.
Merging these 5 frames in HDR Soft's Photomatix, goes some way to creating the final tone-mapped output. Quite a bit of tweaking the various sliders later, I had something approaching where I wanted to be. The colour saturation was a little OTT, so I had to knock back the greens quite a lot in Lightroom to bring back some reality. I could go into Auto-bracketing in depth but that would be pointless when there's such a good write up over at the Digital Photo Experience here.
Anyway that's it for today, other than the fact the I've just found out that this image has been shortlisted in the Urban View category of the 2011 Landscape Photographer of The Year competition, which I'm pretty amazed at considering I felt it to be one of, if not the weakest of my submissions.
Fingers crossed it goes further, but I'll be very surprised if it does....