Let there be Light (HDR Vertorama)

Let there be Light (HDR Vertorama)
HDR Vertorama Before-and-After comparison: Let there be Light (HDR Vertorama)

Also view the Before-and-After comparison of this image to see how it was created (click on the image above).

The story of this photo

When you are taking photos outdoors, the rule says that you should not do so in the middle of the day. The light is harsh and not very flattering for your subjects. This 12-shot HDR Vertorama image taken in the Basilica St. Lorenz in Kempten, Germany is a good example where photographing around noon is actually a good thing. In this case, the sun was shining through the window and on the floor. It was reflected on the pillars and the other objects in the church. This created a special lighting from below that you don’t get when you go there late in the afternoon or early in the morning.

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Note however, that I had to cheat a bit more than usual to compensate the very bright exterior on the right side. In the original exposures, the right window was blown out, and there was nothing I could do to get back those details. This created an asymmetry in the image that was kind of distracting: The left window had the nice blue colors you see in the image while the right window was white. To cure this, I took the freedom to duplicate the left window and copy it over the right side. But pssst – don’t tell anybody! 😉

This is the kind of processing where opinions are divided. What’s your take on this? Do you think that this type of ‘manipulation’ is Ok?

Also read my free recipes for Taking Interior HDR Vertorama Shots, Taking HDR Vertorama Shots with a Tripod, and Creating HDR Panoramas and Vertoramas to learn how you can produce images like this one too.

How it was shot

How it was stitched and tonemapped

  • CA reduction and white balance correction in ACR
  • Created two additional exposures in ACR (+4EV and -4EV) to preserve highlights and shadows [details]
  • Saved the images as TIFFs
  • Applied noise reduction (Topaz Denoise) to each of the source images [details]
  • Resulting TIFF images were then used as input to Photomatix (Details Enhancer option)
  • Stitched the 4 tone-mapped TIFFs using Photoshop

How it was processed

  • Post-processing was done in Photoshop
  • Topaz Adjust on the entire image to get back the colors and the details [details]
  • Topaz Infocus on the entire image for sharpening
  • Perspective correction and cropping
  • Some retouching to fix stitching errors (due to hand-held shooting)
  • Global saturation and levels layers for better contrast and colors
  • Global levels layer for better overall contrast
  • Separate selective adjustments to the following parts: the golden elements, the paintings, the floor, the ornaments on the pillars (saturation layer for better colors, levels layers for more contrast) [details]
  • Saturation layer on the white walls (desaturation)
  • Levels layer on the white walls (more contrast)
  • Copied the window from the left over the window on the right to deal with the blown-out exterior
  • Vignette effect using a masked fill layer [details]
  • Watermarking [details]

Leave a reply

16 Comments on "Let there be Light (HDR Vertorama)"

6 years 16 days ago

I don’t have a problem with that manipulation at all! If you hadn’t have told me I wouldn’t have noticed it. I still can’t tell.

6 years 16 days ago

Thanks for sharing this photo and the editing steps. That’s huge amount of work, but the results is very much worth it!

This kind of editing (like copying over the blown out window) are quite acceptable. If we really aimed at hyper-realism we would be shooting with all-JPEG and only put the horizon straight afterwards. :-)

About vignette: some times the panoramas / vertoramas look a tad too uniform or synthetic, and I’ve also experienced that adding a gentle vignette at the end of the process (if it suits the scene) can really bring the resulting picture together & create the feel of “one photography”.

Lastly I’d like to thank you for the inspiration in HDR, plugins and other tools in service of aiming for good results. :-)

6 years 16 days ago

We have the tools for manipulation ,so why not use them anyway you want,if you yourself like your photo the way you made it and changed it….well thats the way it is .If someone else doesn’t like it , thats their problem.The most important , take photos for yourself the way you like them !
Ps :Do you use PC or Mac???

6 years 16 days ago

Like Darlene says: if you hadn’t told it, nobody would have noticed. Well, some pixel peepers might have, but then again, they wouldn’t be looking at these sort of pictures anyway…

Great shot/composition!

6 years 16 days ago

you kill me one more time Klaus. Thanks for sharing your work and the editing steps
keep join’ one we follow u!