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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> How to do HDR of a landscape with a moving object
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08/21/2019 10:18:46 AM · #1
I have been taking some landscape photos recently where I take 3 photos at different exposures and combining them in Photoshop. The need for the 3 exposures is to expose once for the sky and once for the foreground and a third one for the in-between. I believe this comes under the field of HDR photography though I aim to keep the photos looking natural and not with that HDR look.

This technique seems to work quite well however I have come across a few scenarios where there have been objects in the scene that are moving - the most recent being a hot air balloon at sunset.

I would like to seek the advice from all you expert photographers how to capture a photo like this. When I took 3 exposures of the landscape with the hot air balloon, the balloon is in a slightly different location in each frame. I suspect I may need to get a graduated ND filter but wondered if there was a solution without a filter and without the need for complex processing?

This isn't a great example of good photography but hopefully illustrates the issue.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/135000-139999/135744/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1240120.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/135000-139999/135744/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1240120.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

Thanks in advance
08/21/2019 10:28:46 AM · #2
Been, there, done that, LOL!
The best solution, when it's possible, is to get the moving object into one exposure area or the other. In your example, one exposure will be to optimize the sky, the other to get more detail in the land. You want to get the balloon either in one or the other of the areas.
If you can do that, then you can do a very simple process of blending two layers with a mask, instead of doing full-on HDR processing. That way, the balloon only appears in one location in the final image. This approach is possible more often than you'd think. When the scene is more complex, there may be no alternative to relatively complex processing, if that is even possible.
08/21/2019 12:13:05 PM · #3
What camera are you using? With 42 Megapixels of Sony 7R II I have enough dynamic range to expose well for both the sky and the shadows in a single shot. I use Highlights and Shadows sliders in Lightroom Classic - more natural looking results and neither the sky is overexposed nor there is lack of details in the shadows.

Another approach - in the old days I have also done a lot of single exposure HDR. Maybe get a trial version of Photomatix (or any other dedicated HDR software) and try that. The tutorial:
https://www.slrlounge.com/workshop/single-shot-hdr-exposing-to-the-right/
08/21/2019 12:38:22 PM · #4
Originally posted by kirbic:

Been, there, done that, LOL!
The best solution, when it's possible, is to get the moving object into one exposure area or the other. In your example, one exposure will be to optimize the sky, the other to get more detail in the land. You want to get the balloon either in one or the other of the areas.
If you can do that, then you can do a very simple process of blending two layers with a mask, instead of doing full-on HDR processing. That way, the balloon only appears in one location in the final image. This approach is possible more often than you'd think. When the scene is more complex, there may be no alternative to relatively complex processing, if that is even possible.


Thanks Fritz - so do you mean take one exposure without the object (in my case the hot air balloon) which prob took about 15 mins to pass by, possibly less but it wasn't one or two minutes. That makes sense though I would never have been patient to wait at sunset not taking any other photos for that long. I am quite lazy when it comes to processing and masking and like to just click buttons and move sliders rather than use brushes.
08/21/2019 12:41:23 PM · #5
Originally posted by marnet:

What camera are you using? With 42 Megapixels of Sony 7R II I have enough dynamic range to expose well for both the sky and the shadows in a single shot. I use Highlights and Shadows sliders in Lightroom Classic - more natural looking results and neither the sky is overexposed nor there is lack of details in the shadows.

Another approach - in the old days I have also done a lot of single exposure HDR. Maybe get a trial version of Photomatix (or any other dedicated HDR software) and try that. The tutorial:
https://www.slrlounge.com/workshop/single-shot-hdr-exposing-to-the-right/


Margaret, I am using a Canon 5D Mark IV, which is 30.4 Megapixels. I am pretty sure I didn't have enough dynamic range to expose both the sky and landscape in a single exposure but I could be wrong of course. In this scenario are you able to take an exposure where the landscape looks correctly exposed at the same time as the sky looks correctly exposed in a single shot or is it one or the other and you adjust the other using masks and sliders?
08/21/2019 01:15:40 PM · #6
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Originally posted by kirbic:

Been, there, done that, LOL!
The best solution, when it's possible, is to get the moving object into one exposure area or the other. In your example, one exposure will be to optimize the sky, the other to get more detail in the land. You want to get the balloon either in one or the other of the areas.
If you can do that, then you can do a very simple process of blending two layers with a mask, instead of doing full-on HDR processing. That way, the balloon only appears in one location in the final image. This approach is possible more often than you'd think. When the scene is more complex, there may be no alternative to relatively complex processing, if that is even possible.


Thanks Fritz - so do you mean take one exposure without the object (in my case the hot air balloon) which prob took about 15 mins to pass by, possibly less but it wasn't one or two minutes. That makes sense though I would never have been patient to wait at sunset not taking any other photos for that long. I am quite lazy when it comes to processing and masking and like to just click buttons and move sliders rather than use brushes.


Actually, my process for that shot would have been to take the exposures as close as possible in time, looking for a composition in which the balloon appears in the sky, not the foreground. Then stack the two and manually transition between them. It's easy with a shot like your example, since you have a straight horizon, but it's not difficult with more complicated scenes. Since you'd be masking out the sky in the foreground shot, the "copy" of the balloon that appears in that shot would be masked out.
To Margaret's point, it is probably possible to do this in one exposure by pulling up the shadows in RAW conversion. She probably has perhaps a half stop of dynamic range advantage on our 5D IVs, so it is a *little* easier for her, not all that much.
08/21/2019 01:17:49 PM · #7
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Originally posted by marnet:

What camera are you using? With 42 Megapixels of Sony 7R II I have enough dynamic range to expose well for both the sky and the shadows in a single shot. I use Highlights and Shadows sliders in Lightroom Classic - more natural looking results and neither the sky is overexposed nor there is lack of details in the shadows.

Another approach - in the old days I have also done a lot of single exposure HDR. Maybe get a trial version of Photomatix (or any other dedicated HDR software) and try that. The tutorial:
https://www.slrlounge.com/workshop/single-shot-hdr-exposing-to-the-right/


Margaret, I am using a Canon 5D Mark IV, which is 30.4 Megapixels. I am pretty sure I didn't have enough dynamic range to expose both the sky and landscape in a single exposure but I could be wrong of course. In this scenario are you able to take an exposure where the landscape looks correctly exposed at the same time as the sky looks correctly exposed in a single shot or is it one or the other and you adjust the other using masks and sliders?

There are no masks in Lightroom. In Photoshop the whole Develop module of Lightroom is called Camera Raw. Open you middle exposure RAW image in Camera Raw and hit Auto, see what happens, then play with the sliders.
Better still upload your middle exposure RAW file and let me play with it, I will see if I can do single-shot HDR with it.
08/21/2019 02:45:21 PM · #8
Thank you Margaret and Fritz - really helpful advice.

@Margaret - I tried what you suggested and here is the result. I don't think this photo has amazing composition so not going to spend much time on it - it was just an example of the issue I wanted to find a solution for.

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/135000-139999/135744/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1240122.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/135000-139999/135744/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1240122.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
08/21/2019 04:53:43 PM · #9
If all else fails you could try Photomatix Pro 6.0.3. It creates HDRs from single images.
08/22/2019 04:28:31 AM · #10
Originally posted by digifotojo:

If all else fails you could try Photomatix Pro 6.0.3. It creates HDRs from single images.


I am pretty sure I purchased that software many years ago. I may have to dig it out - tho prob need to cough up money. I think the Nik Efex HDR will also do it from a single image but I have not tried this - but I do have the software.
08/22/2019 10:36:19 AM · #11
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Originally posted by digifotojo:

If all else fails you could try Photomatix Pro 6.0.3. It creates HDRs from single images.


I am pretty sure I purchased that software many years ago. I may have to dig it out - tho prob need to cough up money. I think the Nik Efex HDR will also do it from a single image but I have not tried this - but I do have the software.


Nik Efex HDR is pretty good with single images. That's the only way I ever use it.
08/22/2019 01:49:22 PM · #12
Originally posted by P-A-U-L:

Originally posted by digifotojo:

If all else fails you could try Photomatix Pro 6.0.3. It creates HDRs from single images.


I am pretty sure I purchased that software many years ago. I may have to dig it out - tho prob need to cough up money. I think the Nik Efex HDR will also do it from a single image but I have not tried this - but I do have the software.


Not sure which version you have but the latest version has many added tools that make creating HDRs from single images much easier. There are also finishing touch utilities for straightening, crop, contrast, sharpen. You can resize, rotate, and adjust the file size in preferences. It also provides multi-image HDR processing. I have Photomatix Pro 6.0.3 (64-bit).
08/23/2019 03:49:59 PM · #13
Most HDR software has the ability to do anti-ghosting and that would keep the best shot of the balloon and get rid of the rest.
08/23/2019 04:50:50 PM · #14
What the Gipper said: I'm a bit surprised anti-ghosting doesn't solve this problem for you.
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