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Photomatix: There will be Clouds

essay by Uwe Steinmueller

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There are many samples on the web that show how the Photomatix Details Enhancer can improve the drama of clouds. We often forget because interesting clouds are not common in the Bay Area.

On our trip to our "Capture more Light" workshop in Vancouver (Canada) there were all the clouds we wanted (with very little rain only).

Vancouver Port

With this shot all was very easy. But there are situations where we see some bright clouds and our cameras don't seem to record them. Here is an example.

These are two bracketed shots (we took only 2 shots here 0, - 1 1/3 EV). Both show with 0 exposure compensation in Lightroom. Only the underexposed photo shows some hints of clouds. We liked the building a lot but with only a bright light gray sky the photo would look quite boring. While working on other images we realized how much nice clouds the Photomatix Details Enhancer can recover.

We created an 32 bit HDR image in Photomatix and launched the Details Enhancer:

PM Details Enhancer

You may like it or not but it looks way more expressive than the original version. After some fine tuning:

we settled with this final version:

Final version


It paid off that we use our High Speed Bracketing technique (read here). Without this extra bracketed shot we would have never gotten this result. Actually a third over-exposed version would have been helpful too.

If you actually watch the scene you will see all these clouds. Not as dramatic but they are not fake. With the Photomatix Details Enhancer you can finally get the clouds back.

There will be clouds!



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