Mar 27, 2010

Walk on the Wild Side…

CS5 HDR, Nik's SilverEFEX Pro, Mystery Ridge, ©Joe Bridwell

Image Capture by Joe Bridwell; Artistry by Eric Jones

It’s been a while since I’ve just played under expert tutelage of a true ‘painting’ master!
Recently, I joined maven Eric Jones to follow up on a question, “Eric, is HDR any better in CS5?”
Eric responded, “Joe, bring up some HDR images and let’s play…”
“Yep, after balancing and synchronizing several HDR images in Adobe Camera Raw, we did a Local Adaptation on the 32-bit file to produce an HDR image.
“And Yep, there are few more sliders in the new dialog box.”
Okay, so we’re going to have more HDR capabilities (among other things) when we receive working copies of CS5; but, as it turned out, that was not the real highlight from our flight of fancy.

Nik’s Silver EFEX Pro
To satisfy his own curiosity and clearly whet my appetite, Eric began playing in EFEX Pro, a piece of software which converts color to black and white. I’d never seen EFEX used; first, I was quite impressed with the workflow path. In particular, I like how effective it is to place a Tonal Control Point to lighten or darken an area with brightness, contrast, and structure (detail). For that matter, the rest of their control panel is on par with Lightroom 3…
Once we were in black and white, we still had a rather pesky problem. Our capture was of a snowcapped mountain. All along sunlit crestal edges, snow was splotchy and blown out. So we used a threshold layer @ 253 to maintain detail, then masked those blown out snow areas with a low opacity black brush to constrain this wretched by-product.

As always, I walked away chock-full of new development ideas!
On the way home, I realized EFEX could also be used to create incredibly subtle masks. I’m not a great black and white fan… but this eloquent demonstration gave me a much more real sense of the power of black and white.

If for no other reason ~ there is an incredible amount of information generated in trying to create a truly subtle black mask. And, I think this image is truly beautiful!

I call this image “Mystery Ridge”; although I’ve shown it to a few people, they simply don’t know where it was taken… Do You?


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