I don’t normally spend a great deal of time with my pictures. Most of them are published after no more than 10 or 15 minutes work but there are occasional images that I’ve been tweaking for years and this is the grandpa of them all.
The original exposures for this picture were shot back in 2004 on a Nikon D70 and, dare I admit, in JPEG. This was the first time I experimented with blending multiple exposures to give a better representation of a scene and this was about 18 months before I first heard the expression “HDR”. The original shot was processed in Photoshop using layer masks to manually select which pieces of which exposure I wanted to be visible.
I’ve produced several versions of this image since (I replaced the sky here, for example) but was never 100% happy with the result. In the sky replacement image, there is some nasty fringing in the trees and there was pretty horrendous chromatic aberration in the originals which I failed to correct and ended up painting out by desaturating the magenta and cyan fringing (sorry!).
Move on to 2011 and it was definitely time for another, possibly final, attempt to reprocess the exposures. This time, I used Lightroom to remove the chromatic aberration then exported to Photomatix Pro where I used the Exposure Fusion mode to blend the original 6 images. The result then went to Photoshop where I blended in the best sky (the version added by Photomatix wasn’t great) and added 3 Hue/Saturation and 5 Curves layers, most with masks, to muck with particular areas. After all this, maybe another 45 minutes work, I’m left with this version.
Hopefully this one will stick for at least another couple of years before I go back to the JPEGs again! Mind you, now that I look at it, some of the colours in this version are rather intense so perhaps there is a chance you will see a 2013 version after all