11 November 2010

Elakala Falls HDR

I'm almost finished my big West Virginia post that I've been promising, but not quite. Here is another teaser image from that series. This image was taken below Elakala Falls #1, but facing in the opposite direction (downstream).  Elakala Falls is located on Shay Run, Blackwater Falls State Park, Davis, WV.

I agonized quite a bit about how to properly process this image.  I'm not a huge fan of HDR or overprocessing, but the dynamic range in this scene exceeded my camera's ability to capture it in one image.  Knowing that I couldn't hold detail in both the sunset lit trees and the dark shaded banks of Shay Run, I did take bracketed shots in the field for use in an HDR image.  Back on the computer I decided that HDR was definitely the way to go.  I chose a set bracketed at one stop intervals (8, 15, and 30 seconds at f/16).  After a few minor color, clarity, and contrast adjustments in Lightroom synched to all three images, I imported them to Photomatix Pro (ver. 3.2) and tone mapped them using the Details Enhancer at a strength of 80.  After reimporting to Lightroom I made some exposure and contrast adjustments to the final image, then exported to Photoshop where I used Lab sharpening to sharpen the final image for display.

Note that the glassy texture of the water is not a side effect of the HDR process, but rather the long exposure times required at this time of day in the shaded stream bed.


  1. Excellent work, Elijah! It's beautiful!!

  2. This is stunning! and I LOVE the new look of the blog too!

  3. Elijah, this image is absolutely gorgeous! It looks like a lovely painting. Beautiful work!

  4. Thanks all for the kind comments! I appreciate the feedback after agonizing over the processing. I actually made four different versions of the HDR (tweaking the images before or the settings during the HDR process) before I settled on my version #2.