Corn Field during Winter
This is a corn field in near my office. The lines formed by the snow and rests of plants draw my attention. I made several composition with my camera. This one was very interesting because I held my camera very close to the ground.
One year ago I made this image of the same land
which is a kind of overview.
TECH-INFO: several techniques were involved here. First the camera was in my hand while my knees where bended and I was standing on my feet. The focus was on auto so the camera picked by default the grass close in front. Second, I have chosen a shutterspeed high enough to take in account possible camera shake and an aperture to get a good combination of a larger DOF and getting the maximum lens sharpness (which is around f/8). The ISO320 does not yet yield too much noise.
Only shot one RAW file, the weather was gray so contrasts were OK to handle. The camera rendered RAW file was looking rather dull: the clouds and snow were bright, the stems of the plants dark and without detail. A modern RAW file has a dynamic range of 9 to 12 stops, which is entering the field of High Dynamic Range (actually some call it Medium Dynamic Range). In contrary to JPG, computer screens and prints which have a dynamic range of 6 stops more or less. Using DxO Optics Pro I made 4 exposures of the RAW file, each a stop difference which I fed to Photomatix Pro to merge them into a HDR file. It's better this way than giving it straight to a HDR program, which is mostly not specialized in RAW conversion or even lens corrections.
During tone-mapping, in Photomatix Pro, I set the micro-contrast on a negative value (like -8) instead of for instance +10 to enhance all details. The result is a more balanced contrast enhancement. Tip: try to fiddle with the luminosity when altering the micro-contrast to get a proper brightness. The result of tone-mapping is an image with bright and textured snow, nice and vivid stems of the corn plants and a rather light sky.
In Photoshop I did more processing. For instance at the right of the most right stem was some snow visible. Most people (try to) use the clone stamp tool but personally I find it dam hard to do that well. You mostly can see the cloning artifacts. In general I use the patch tool but it didn't work here either. The best way to handle it is to copy another part and to cover the part you want to get rid off. In this case I copied a little leaf in the neighborhood (using the lasso tool), turned it into a new layer and moved it over the snow. The leaf looks like a part of the stem. I have tried this trick even for retouching faces.
The snow is made a bit brighter and more contrast is added (also selectively in several places). The sky is a bit darker. To select that I used the color range tool which is extremely handy to make complex masks. It selected the whole sky and the snow but none of the stems or plants. Afterwards I just had to subtract from the complex mask a rectangular selection of the snow, that's it. I think you can compare it with the power of the U-point technology, though still less handy. Finally I cropped the bottom (was only which was not fully in focus) and added some vignetting.
I really hope that this image looks striking and still realistic, let me know if you like it.