I capture the images that resulted in this image last Thursday at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Preserve. I spent about 2 hours walking around before the sun began to set. Eventually I settled down at the far end of the foot bridge and framed my shot. Shooting directly back at the sun, I knew I’d never be able to capture the fully dynamic range of the scene, so I bracked my exposure 4 shots either side of EV 0 with EV 0.7 between each shot (that’s a total of 9 frames).
I brought each of the 9 frames into RawTherapee, turned off all auto settings, adjusted the white balance, then batch processed them to 16-bit tif files.
At the command line, I used the command enfuse-mp -o output.tif *.tif to fuse the 9 frames into one.
Back to RawTherapee with the fused tif file where I reduced the black point in the Exposure slightly. Made some tweaks to the darker mid-tones using the Lightness channel curve of the Lab Adjustments tool. Then I used the Wavelet Contrast tool at 9 levels with the finest detail level at 72. Then bumped up the vibrance just a touch and added a vignette.
From there it was into GIMP for some Resnthisizer’s Heal Selection to remove some people across the body of water and the Healing Brush to remove the bird artifacts left in the sky from the exposure fusing.
Finished up with G’mic’s Richardson-Lucy sharpening with a sigma setting of 0.5.
I’ve been reading everything I can find (here and elsewhere) to give my skill set an much needed update. Have I done too much to this image? I desperately want to avoid the over processed “clown vomit” that one would find in bad HDR.
Yeah, it’s a pity HDRMerge isn’t actively maintained at the moment. Nevertheless it is super useful and not hard to build (on Linux at least). Take @heckflosse’s fork. I built it on Debian without hassle.