James Bond Rock – Panorama – Phang Nga, Thailand (HDR)

The story of this photo

View the Before-and-After Comparison to see where this photo comes from!

View the Before-and-After Comparison to see where this photo comes from!

This is a 9-shot pseudo HDR panorama of the famous “James Bond” rock in the bay of Phang Nga, Thailand. You can find another (real) HDR shot of this rock here. The rock appeared in the 1974 James Bond movie “The Man With the Golden Gun” and has been a major tourist attraction every since. The shot was taken from a different position with a better view over the whole bay than the previous shot I uploaded. This place is awesome and mystical in a way.

It is the first time I have tried to do a proper HDR panorama and it was quite interesting to discover the corresponding workflow. Thank god, I have a fast 64bit PC with a 64bit operating system and lots of memory. During post processing, the document got more than 3 GB big at times. I have done panorama shots before with different gear, some of which was self-made. This was the first time I traveled with a monopod fitted with a simple but flexible and effective macro rail that I use as a panorama head. I have been searching and experimenting for some time to find the ideal solution to shoot panoramas quickly, reliably (avoiding problems in stitching) and at a reasonable price. And this is the perfect combination.

How it was shot

How it was stitched and tonemapped

  • Developed three TIFs from each of the 9 RAW files using Adobe Camera Raw (+2, 0, -2 ev)
  • Created 9 HDRs (32 bit) using Photomatix version 3.1
  • Stitched the 9 HDRs using Photoshop and saved in OpenEXR format
  • Tonemapped resulting panorama HDR using Photomatix version 3.1 (Detail Enhancer)
  • Saved as 16bit TIF
  • Take a look here for a more detailed description.

How it was post-processed

  • Post-processing was done in Photoshop
  • Topaz Adjust on the foreground (everything except the sky) to enhance the details and the colors [details]
  • Curves layer on the water to enhance the reflections and the contrast
  • Photo filter layer with a gradient mask on the water to enhance the orange tones in the foreground
  • Saturation layer on the water for overall color enhancement
  • Saturation and Levels layers on he sky to enhance the blue tones and the contrast
  • Saturation layer on the rocks to tone down the reds and increase the yellows
  • Curves layer on the rocks to tune the contrast
  • Halo reduction in the sky using a levels adjustment layer (gamma ~ 0.8) and delicate masking to blend this darker layer into those halo spots [details]
  • Topaz Denoise [details]
  • Sharpening on the foreground using the high-pass filter [details]
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