Critique Redwood Forest

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Took a little hike a few weeks ago in the Redwoods along the Northern California coast. As it was a very sunny and clear day, and we were there in the early afternoon, so the lighting was especially difficult. I shot a HDR series and would like to get your thoughts on which looks better (the three exposures used for the HDR were set at -2, 0, and +2, and the actual HDR conversion was done in Aurora HDR 2019)

"Original" HDR
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Processed after conversion in Luminar Flex.
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One of the things I was trying to accomplish was to warm the sunlit portions, the trail, and the tree in the middle to bring out the "redwood" feel, while keeping much of the green of the foliage.

I'd really appreciate any ideas or suggestions to improve this situation!!

(I do think I would have had a much easier time in this forest on a cloudy or even foggy day as the sky would have really diffused the light!!)

Thanks in advance!!

Ken
 
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Those are tough conditions. I like the background trees better in the original HDR. Because they are lighter and less saturated it gives the image more depth and doesn't make the white sky stand out as much. It might be fun to see what would happen if you just added a little pop to the foreground trees and left the background ones alone. It really is a nice image.
 
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Beautiful captures and hdr image. I like the first one better as I agree the flex one is too much. I don't know anything about flex - can you run the first one through flex again with "less" saturation? If not, you could try blending them, putting the flex layer on top and reducing the opacity of that layer.
 
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I think they are both magnificent...although I'n not a fan of high HDR. The suggestion of somehow combining the two images would seem to be a good one for "taming" the last one.
 
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I think maybe I was not clear ... both of the images in the original post were HDR versions ... here are the three originals:
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One is EV 0, two and three are +/- EV 2.

I like the HDR one that's a tad darker (processed a bit in Flex) because it reminds me more of what I saw. Yet, I believe it does look a bit over done ...

Really a difficult place to get a nice image with such bright sunlight!!

Thoughts?

Thanks!!

Ken
 
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Interesting, I had not even thought of looking at these in B&W. Stay tuned ...

Thanks!!

Ken
Just did a quick conversion on a vertical from the same location. Rather interesting ... thanks for the idea!!
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Cheers!!

Ken
 
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Hi Ken. The B&W images usually give better results than the color images in harsh light conditions , so does your B&W. I like it.

Actually if -2 EV shot is not very noisy , I wouldn't even combine it with another shot if I were you. I would just open up the shadows and IMO it would be a nice image which has depth. If the image quality gets worse by doing so, then I would try combining only 0 and -2 EV shot in photoshop without using the HDR technique.
 
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Hi Ken. The B&W images usually give better results than the color images in harsh light conditions , so does your B&W. I like it.

Actually if -2 EV shot is not very noisy , I wouldn't even combine it with another shot if I were you. I would just open up the shadows and IMO it would be a nice image which has depth. If the image quality gets worse by doing so, then I would try combining only 0 and -2 EV shot in photoshop without using the HDR technique.
That's what I was just thinking before I saw your post. I would try working with the -2 shot and see where that takes you. That is what I did when I got some similar shots last year in Olympic National Park.
 

Butlerkid

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When doing HDR, it's generally best to ensure you have an image that captures the highlights without being blown out. In all three of your images, it appears much of the sky is blown. Then use a subtle approach to creating the hdr if the goal is to retain a realistic image.
 
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That's what I was just thinking before I saw your post. I would try working with the -2 shot and see where that takes you. That is what I did when I got some similar shots last year in Olympic National Park.
Your shots in Olympic National Park are very nice. A co-worker of my wife has a cabin right next door to the Quinault Lodge, and we hope to visit there again soon!!

Ken
 
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After reading through all of your suggestions, I want to thank y'all for taking the time to comment. Deep forest shots are something I struggle with, but there's a LOT of places around here to practice!! I think I would also have been better served on this trip if I had shot RAW instead of JPG. I suspect I would have been able to recover much more of the dark areas while preserving the highlights. I'll keep that in mind for next time!!

(My main focus on this trip were "snapshots" with my wife and a bunch friends at a birthday gathering, where JPG was fine, and I forgot to shift things on the way home!!)

Ken
 

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