11th
March

If you looked at my photos, you would notice that I use Photoengine quite a lot. Over the last few years, it became one of the main tools that I use. And each time I post a process post, I also mention that I used Photoengine to blend the photos and I only tweaked few settings. To make this a little more elaborate, today I will go more into this, and show you my exact process of how I work with Photoengine.

Always before I get into Photoengine, I correct few things in Lightroom. Lens distortions and chromatic aberrations are the ones I correct the most, but from time to time I also correct the white balance. One can of course do this also in Photoengine, but doing that will make it harder to blend in parts of the original exposures back into the photo.

Oloneo Photoengine

Thats why I always use 16-bit tiff files as Photoengine input, as I want all these tweaks already be included. Then I select what files to use. If a series is exposed properly in the middle, the Photoengine result will nicely exposed from the start. But if you include some very bright, or very dark exposures, the base will be either too bright or too dark, and you then have to spend longer time tweaking the settings to get a good result. Much easier to just leave those exposures out, and correct possible over or underexposed areas later.

If there was wind while I took the exposures, I turn on Auto Align. I don’t use the ghost removal as it can result in strange artifacts around the photo, and it makes it just harder to correct later, as it just not even enough.

Once in the HDR tonemaping, I start with changing the strength, usually to something around 40-60. Almost never more. You will see, that when you move the slider, first the shadows will get brighter, and after a certain point, the bright areas will become darker. I would stay lower from this point, and just leave the bright areas as they are. Making them darker, will just make the photo more unrealistic, and creates ugly borders around the dark areas.

Oloneo Photoengine

You will notice that this will also remove all of the contrast from the photo. So the second thing I change, is the first contrast slider. It’s hard to say exactly how much, but if I see that I’m gong very high, and still don’t have enough contrast, I add a little Low dynamic tone contrast. That one usually adds more contrast more quickly.

Sometimes this will make the photo look a little dark, and that can be easily corrected with fine exposure. The last step I do is to check what effect the Natural HDR mode has, if I like the colors more with it on or off. Sometimes I even save both versions, and then blend them together in Photoshop. This is when I like some areas from one with it on, and some areas from one with it off.

And that’s all. From here I save the file as a 16-bit tiff, and continue in Photoshop. Feel free to ask any questions about this in the comments.

10th
March

This post comes a little later that I wanted, but unluckily, while I was out shooting yesterday, my system HDD decided to die, and I ended up with an nonfunctional PC. But after buying a new HDD today, I managed to get it all up and running again, and can get back to photos :)

Yesterday I had the possibility to shoot from a new location in Bratislava, and to get a new view of the city center. It’s a very nice view, as you can see the three most dominant building in Bratislava (if you don’t count all the new skyscrapers :)). From left, it’s the Bratislava Castle, the SNP bridge and the St. Martins cathedral.

This is a HDR from 4 exposures, created in Oloneo Photoengine, finished in Photoshop.

Different view
Technique: Oloneo Photoengine, Number of exposures: 4, Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D mark II, Lens: Canon 24-70mm F2.8, Focal length: 51mm, Aperture: 8, Middle exposure time: 8s, ISO: 200, Tripod used: yes, Location: 48.134279,17.106281
9th
March

Today, I will show you how I edited this blue hour shot taken over Bratislava. So let’s take a look.

As you can see, the base exposure was quite alright, with only some areas overexposes, and some a little dark. It missed detail, contrast and a little color.

Moon over BratislavaFinished photo
Moon over BratislavaOriginal photo

For this shot I took 7 exposures. In the end, when checking out the exposure, I did not use the brightest one, as I seen no need, and the second brightest already had a quite nicely exposed shadows. I started in Lightroom, where I corrected the horizon, removed chromatic aberrations and lens distortions. Thenk I continued in Oloneo Photoengine. I actually could have done this differently, but I like how Oloneo Photoengine adds structure and local contrast.

Moon over BratislavaAll exposures
Moon over BratislavaCombining in Photoengine

After tweaking strength and contrast in Photoengine, I loaded everything into Photoshop and continued from there (layers numbered from bottom up):
1. Oloneo Photoengine result
2+3+4. I used the darkest exposures to correct the strong highlights on the buildings on the right.
5. There were few lights that were not on in all exposures, and that created ugly black spots in blending, so I had to correct that from one of the brighter exposures.
6. Color efex Detail extractor used on the bottom left, to get more detail in the trees, and a little more variation.
7. Curves to get more contrast into the shot, but not in the bottom left
8. Color efex Briliance/Warmith to get a little more color into the clouds.

Moon over Bratislava

And that’s all I did with this image. To find out more on how I edit, check out the guides and before after categories on this blog, or check out my video tutorial series here:
Master exposure blending

8th
March

I have no idea what to shoot anymore in Bratislava. Sometimes I just walk around with the camera, and don’t take any shots. It’s quite a change from when I started, as then I took many shots, even if I was not sure if they will be ok. Now, If I don’t like the view, or can’t find a composition, I don’t bother anymore. Probably I now know more that I like.

But I also started experimenting more with the ND filter to get a little different view and I just like the soft look of water. So this is one of the few photo I took yesterday. At first I wanted to go to a completely different location, but after seeing a bunch of cranes right where I wanted to shoot, I took this on my way home.

Long exposure light
Technique: Oloneo Photoengine, Number of exposures: 5, Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D mark II, Lens: Canon 16-35mm F2.8, Focal length: 25mm, Aperture: 11, Middle exposure time: 12s, ISO: 100, Tripod used: yes, Location: 48.139473, 17.105230
7th
March

I just added another two 21:9 wallpapers to my wallpapers section of this blog. Just head over there to get them now :)

Blue hour panorama
Entering the chain bridge