The Parliament (HDR)

The Parliament (HDR) - six exposures - photomatix and photoshop

The story of this photo

This is a 6-exposure HDR image of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary. Before I went on that trip, I did my usual Internet scouting on the entire city of Budapest, and sure enough, I came across a ton of images of this Parliament building. So, I was prepared! But when I arrived there and set up my tripod just across the river (Danube), something strange happened.

The Parliament (HDR) - Dynamic Before-and-After

Take a look at the The Parliament (HDR) – Dynamic Before-and-After. It lets you slide back and forth between the original and the processed image.

I was sitting there doing some test shots, waiting for the perfect light in the blue hour and everything was just fine (except for the trillion of mosquitoes welcoming me as their dinner). But just as the perfect moment seemed to arrive, so did the mob… urm… the protestors. And as if that wasn’t enough, they brought their torches. Some may have even had pitch forks, but they were too far away for me to say that for sure. See that long streak of lights coming in from the right side just above the shore line? Yep, that’s the mob.

The Making-of 'The Parliament (HDR)' - Watch the time-lapse video of the entire post-processing workflow for this 6-exposure HDR image

The Making-of ‘The Parliament (HDR)’ – Watch the time-lapse video of the entire post-processing workflow

Don’t get me wrong, I am sure they had a very good reason for their protest, and the Parliament building would also be the perfect place to protest. But did they really have to pick this very day??? At the time, I felt that they ruined the shot completely… like a flash mob coming upon you on a lonely beach that was perfectly quiet the other 364 day of the year.

Now, I feel that they actually add something interesting to the image. Somehow, they managed to create so much smoke that it actually shows above the building.

HDR Pics to play with - The Parliament (HDR) - Download the source photos for this 6-exposure HDR image and process them with your own style

HDR Pics to play with – The Parliament (HDR) – Download the source photos for this 6-exposure HDR image and process them with your own style

Lesson learned: If you think that something ruined your shot, don’t just walk away! Try to adapt and shoot anyway. You may not get exactly what you expected, but maybe you will still get something interesting.

How the photos were shot

How the HDR image was created and tonemapped

  • CA reduction on all source exposures in Adobe Camera Raw [details]
  • Saved the 6 images as 16-bit TIFFs
  • Applied noise reduction (Topaz Denoise) to each of the source images [details]

How the tonemapped image was post-processed

  • Post-processing was done in Photoshop CS6
  • Topaz Adjust for enhancing the colors and the lighting [details]
  • Local adjustments
    • Stone walls at the front of the building
      • Levels layer for more contrast
      • Saturation layer: desaturation
      • Photo filter (light orange) to get back the original color of the building
    • Roofs
      • Vibrance layer
      • Saturation layer (increased the Reds, decrease the Cyans, increased the Master)
      • Photo filter (light orange) to get back the original color
    • Parts of the building that are lit
      • Saturation layer: decreased Master and Yellows, increased Reds
      • Levels layer: improve contrast
      • Levels layer for darkening some parts selectively
    • Buildings at the sides
      • Photo filter (light orange) to get a similar toning as the main building
      • Saturation layer: desaturation to avoid distrations
      • Levels layer: decreased mid tones to avoid distractions
    • Sky
      • Saturation layer: increased Master and Lightness
    • Water
      • Saturation layer: increased Master and decreased Blues
      • Curves layer to increase the contrast and bring out the reflective look
      • Vibrance layer
  • Global adjustments
    • Levels and Saturation layers for global fine-tuning
  • Slight vignetting [details]
  • Smart sharpening using the Topaz InFocus plug-in
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9 replies
    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Jane,

      thanks you! I did not use the ultra wide-angle because I figured that I would need some more focal length in this situation (shooting across the river). I ended up shooting at 18 mm which would have been possible with the 10-24 lens, but in fact, I cropped it in post-processing. So I should have zoomed in a little more which makes my initial lens choice reasonable again.

      I hope that make sense to you. 🙂


  1. Steve Leach
    Steve Leach says:

    I see you are using Topaz, DeNoise, Adjust, Focus, but not using Clarity. I would have thought you would be all over that newer plug in which is touted as a great resource for HDR images as its works the micro levels of contrast and midtones.
    I recently started using it, found it to be amazing.
    I am starting to plan out more HDR work, I shoot mainly sports and wildlife now, but a history of shooting various buildings and structures as well as city scapes. Been following you for several years thanks for putting so detail into your posts, ebooks, and other communications. It really gives a photographer a deeper appreciation for the shot.

    • farbspiel
      farbspiel says:

      Hi Steve,

      thanks for the great feedback. You’re welcome and I am glad that you got so much out of what I am posting.

      There is really no particular reason for me not using Topaz Clarity. The only reason is that I have not found the time lately to try it out. I am sure it is a great tool and I will try to find out where it fits in with my workflow.



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