Strong landscape images rarely happen by themselves. They need help and it is up to the photographer to provide that help. This is all about getting a final result that reflects the photographers’ personal preferences for a finished product. The mechanics of modern day cameras and the software they contain places severe restrictions on the straight un-manipulated image that you see on your cameras’ LCD screen. This subject is too long and complicated to go into here but a good search on Google can provide all the proof you need. However, your camera will, or should, be able to capture all the information required to make a great photograph, assuming your subject and composition are worthy.
With that in mind, when out taking digital photographs I commonly use the three shot bracketed HDR technique, varying exposure by one stop either side of normal. In certain circumstances I may use five shots and occasionally (such as in my “Places of Worship” portfolio) I use ten or more shots. This technique allows me to choose the best image or to use all of the images when preparing the final version. I tend to use all three shots when the contrast between sky and foreground is too great but usually I choose the most well exposed image and just work from that. I was taught the use of HDR and Photomatix software a number of years ago by one of the leading edge ‘alternative’ image-makers, Dan Burkholder, and it has been a useful tool in helping me to expand my creativity. I shoot RAW files that, through Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) offer powerful additional editing options in Adobe Photoshop and I also use OnOne Perfect Photo Suite (PPS) software to hone my images. Using these three software programs and shooting RAW gives me all the computing power I need to make the images I want. The rest is up to me.
Below I offer several ‘case studies’ to pique your interest. Original capture is shown on the left and the final image is on the right.