After The Tone Map – HDR in Post
When you make high-dynamic range (HDR) photographs, you may be tempted to think that once you’ve converted the image and created a tone-map, you’re done. Sorry – not really. There’s more work to be done.
I like to think of my tone-mapped image as a new RAW file. It still needs to be tweaked and tuned.
In the case of the photo above, it was made at sunrise at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I made three original exposures (RAW) and then converted the images in Nik HDR Efex Pro. When I looked at the final image it lacked a few things. It was noisy and the color had flattened out. The whole image seemed flat. So using a combination of Photoshop, Aperture and a plugin Called Topaz Adjust, I added some color, smoothed out the noise and returned some definition to the image. It didn’t take a lot of work in post but it did take some work.
The point is simple – don’t assume that your job is done once you’ve created your basic HDR/tonemap. Think about the finished product looking as good as it can and do whatever you need to in post to make sure that happens. Budget at least as much time in post AFTER the tone map is created as you do BEFORE the tone map is created.