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"Underworld" (remote SW)
Techie stuff for those techie: this image was both exposure bracketed for dynamic range (+ and - 2 stops - for each shot) as well as focus bracketed for depth of field (8 shots from the foreground to the background). The basic approach was to take one of the images (24 total) and complete it in Adobe Camera Raw. Then apply the exact same settings to all the images. At this point 8 (the normal exposures) will look pretty good (with maybe some blow out and a little plugging) 8 will look blown out (the bright exposures) and 8 will look too dark.. Next step is to adjust the exposure of the groups of 8 that are too bright and too dark, so the the dark group is just right for the highlights and the really bright images are taken down to be just right for clean detailed shadows.
Bring all 24 images into PS CS6.
Next, simply start with the first 3 images and blend them together using my powerful/easy "Blend If" technique for dynamic range. Then do this to each of the 8 sets of 3 exposures. This may sound like a lot of work, but "Blend If" used wisely allows me to do this in less than maybe 3-5 minutes. All 8 sets get individually flattened. So, now I have 8 images (instead of 24) with great global contrast but also the complete dynamic range in tact.
Next, load all 8 images as a single file as layers, select them all and run "Auto Align" and then "Auto Blend." There may be a little bit of clean up required after running these. Also, DON'T capture sharpen these at the raw stage or it will confuse the computers blending algorithm.
Lastly, flatten the file into a single file and finish up your typical protocol of color correction or fine tuning in PS.
It is truly amazing how much detail these images can hold even as humongous enlargements. I have had the privilege of regularly making these up to 70 inches and beyond (larger at other aspect ratios) as FujiFlex acrylic mount prints that look amazing!
Lastly, I have just had too much on my plate the last few months (moving, workshops, travel...) to get to finishing the "blend if" article. I will finish it! It is about 1/2 done. I am very sorry about the delay.
Canon 5D Mark2
Canon 14mm L2
f/5.6 (sharpest f/stop)
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