This photo is the finished product from a recent adventure in the wilds of philly:
First off we'll take a look at the scene, and how I went about shooting it.
The room has a wide range of lighting levels, from the bright skylight on top, to the much more prevelent shadows that filled most of the room (about 95% of the light was coming from those windows above). No test shot was needed here; a wide range of exposures would be used to capture the full tonal range, as a standard 2-3 exposure set would simply leave out too much data to be useful (my end goal was to create a more video-game like image than exact photo replica and thus i would need a more even exposure vs a lot of light and shadow).
i settled on a set of 7 images taken at 1.7 stops apart that game me the range I was looking for. The first of these started at 4 stops under the metered reading.
All images were shot at ISO100, tripod, nikon D80, 12-24mm tokina lens at 12mm.
Here are the base 7:
I probably could have got away with taking a few out of the set, but again with the effect I wanted this was a widly enough spaced set that they would not pile on un-needed data and kill the image. The batch was loaded into photomatixpro for the first round of work. Right off the bat the highlights were too strong/too much of the image, so the white point was pulled almost all the way down, the black point raised, gama brought down a tad, and shadows smoothed out a bit. Light smoothing was set on med. From there it was just a few minor tweaks to get the working HDR image.
Here is the photo before heading into CS5:
Once into photoshop, the steps were simple and fast. I've got an action that I use on a lot of photos like this. It is a set of curves that desaturate and shift the color balance a bit older looking. That layer is set on soft light to bring back the colors and pop contrast a bit (you can do this by hand simply be strengthening the blacks/whites and working on saturation). From there an unsharp mask was applied, and here we are:
DPS, Summer- 2011