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Chris Smith is a professional photographer in Charleston, SC. A photographer for almost 30 years, Chris offers a superior knowledge of creating perfect images. For many years, Chris has been the official photographer of the Family Circle Cup, a professional tennis tournament held annually in Daniel Island's tennis stadium

Adventures in Belize – Tikal in HDR

In the weeks leading up to my trip to Belize & Guatemala, I put a lot of thought into how I was going to capture the ancient mysticism and time-tested fortitued of the Mayan Ruins! For those who have been asking about the technique I came up with, I’m using a combination of processes that involve Adobe Lightroom, Photomatix HDR Pro, and Adobe Photoshop.

Most of the images like these, are a panoramic stitch of 5 vertical images, each being a merge of 5 bracketed exposures. So basically, each of these photos is made up of 25 pictures!

When shooting the images, I set my D300 to continuos high-speed advance, and set exposure bracketing to 5. Either hand-held, or supported on a mono-pod, I cranck out 5 bracketed images of the main subject. Then panning around the nodal point of the lens (very important to avoind shift), I overlap that image by about 1/3 and shoot 5 images of the next “slice”. I go one more overlap to the right. Then I repeat 2 more times on the other side.

All images are imported into Lightroom, adjusted for white-balance, and synchronized. Then they are exported via a Lighroom plug-in to Photomatix, five at a time. I had played with all the settings and, found a look that I liked, saved it as an edgy-but-not-over-the-top preset. Going back into Lightroom, each “frame” of five image is now just one High-Dynamic Range photo. So I take those five photos and perform a Merge to Panoramic in Photoshop. This is then brought back into Lightroom. Finally, I run a preset I’d created in Lightroom…basically applying some desaturation, increasing contrast and clarity, and adjusting split-toning.

This becomes the image you see. I know, it’s a lot of work for a single photograph. But the results have been rewarding and I’ve enjoyed the process immensely. I hope you enjoy!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=634336350 Jimmy Thigpen

    very cool Chris! I’ll have to try this!