Recently I’ve been making an effort to stay away from the HDR processing software that I originally started using when getting into photography. Historically, I’d use a program called Photomatix by HDR Soft and take the the three to five images directly into that program and the software would blend the images together to come up with a ‘tone mapped’ version. From that image I’d try to blend in different parts of the ‘original’ files to ultimately come up with a finalized version. This process works well and as a beginner I was very satisfied with the results I got from this. However, over time as other photo editing processes – like Lightroom – have improved allowing me to pull more detail and color out of images it is less of a necessity to use programs like Photomatix to pull details into an image.
Years ago creating an image like the one below using only a single exposure would have been next to impossible. I’m sure that Photoshop experts would have been able to do it using complex masks and multiple layers but a beginner like me never would have been able to do it. However, now it is much easier and with programs like Raya Pro by Jimmy McIntyre which takes the complicated work out of creating luminosity masks and lets you make targeted adjustments to specific details and areas of the photos without impacting other areas.
Golden Gate Bridge at Sunrise (San Francisco, California)
This image was created through the use of Lightroom, Raya Pro (in Photoshop) and then ultimately some touch ups in OnOne Perfect Effects.
The original photo is below:
I was able to make all of these adjustments without using a ‘dark’ or ‘light’ version of it. After the new year I’ll write a little review of Raya Pro as I’m still playing with it but here in the early days – after a bit of a learning curve about luminosity masks – I’m extremely impressed with the program as it has opened up possibilities that didn’t exist in my photography and photo editing before.