I really like this shot. It was a cold, grey day and this is exactly how it looked and felt to me. Pretty simple. Well lately everyone has been shooting HDR of everything. I like that too and have been trying a lot of different programs that offer free trials. I am having a really hard time pulling the trigger, as my buddy Jeff likes to call it, when it comes to actually purchasing some HDR specific software. They all seem to do a nice job. I am very interested in just capturing all the detail of a scene as I see it. I do like the highly stylized look of some of the wilder HDR shots also. So here’s the issue. Why spend a ton of money when I can produce an image like this one below in Photoshop.
I used the first image as my starting point and opened the image with Adobe Camera Raw. A long time ago, before the single image faux HDR was such a popular thing to do, I went crazy with the sliders and discovered that you can get the faux look without extra software. What I usually do is start by pushing the Recovery, Fill Light, Blacks, Contrast and Clarity sliders all the way to 100%. Then I will adjust the Exposure and Brightness sliders until I get the look I want. Sometimes I will have to re-adjust the other sliders a bit as well. Since every image is different in brightness and contrast your settings will end up differently for each. But the above settings are a good jumping off point. After it opens in Photoshop I may tweak it a little more with the Highlights and Shadows adjustment tool. So before you jump into the pool and spend at least $100 try this first. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.