HDR for Blustery Days

Clearing storms in Garden of the Gods

Looking out the window yesterday morning, I saw a solid wall of gloom to the west. Pikes Peak was completely obscured by clouds, and it looked crummy for photography. By 9am, though, the clouds were breaking up just enough in the east to let light poke through once in a while. So I figured I’d take a chance and shoot in Garden of the Gods, my favorite local spot to “get away” to.

Normally, I have a pretty steadfast rule about overcast days. To make the shots work, you avoid getting sky in the shots as much as possible. But yesterday, I took a different approach. Since I was set up on my Gitzo tripod, I went ahead and made exposure bracket sequences. For the uninitiated, that’s when you shoot 3 or more shots of the same scene, each at a different exposure. By doing so, I had at least one underexposed and one overexposed version of the same image.

When I got back home, I ran the bracketed image sequences through Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro plug-in to combine the exposures into a single high dynamic range image. The results were quite pleasing! Textures in what would have been a completely washed out sky gave my images a dark and moody feel.

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