By now you know I am a fan of Photomatix and HDR. I continually am amazed with the results I get from bracketing and processing HDR images. This weekend I played around with this great image of Darlene sitting watching the sunrise on the beach at La Laguna, Cayo Coco, Cuba. I tried all three different styles available in Photomatix. Darlene likes the original. She feels the visible foreground is distracting and likes the more silhouette look. I kind of agree, but from a photography point I am very impressed with the detail I can pull from the shadows with HDR. There is no way the camera on its own would be able to expose for the sunrise and the foreground. I also love the colour I can pull into the image. Of course I bracketed the image (+2, 0, -2). Have a peek and let me know which you prefer.
This is the original image right out of my camera. There was no photoshop editing done to it. It was the underexposed image from the bracketing.
This is the tonemapped detail image. It is the process that will give the “grungy” extreme colour images. Look at the detail in the sand. While you may not favour this look you have to admire the detail that can be pulled from the bright sunrise and the dark foreground. Thirty years ago our best cameras and slide film would never have been able to create this image.
This is the tonemapped compressor image. Compressor images typically will give a more normal look without the extremes.
This is the fused image. A fused image is not a true HDR but simply takes detail from the highs and lows and blends them. It is often used by landscape photographers to create a more natural look.
So which do you like?