|Exposure Mode||auto bracket (±1 EV)|
In this set I had quite a lot of interesting clouds and yet I'd also managed to retain a reasonable amount of detail of the ruined keep.
My original intention was to use PaintShop Pro's HDR function to combine the bracketed shots and then to do a few minor tweaks to the brightness and saturation, in the same way I have with a number of other photos in the past. Usually I can get a feel for a photo when I just play around with the brightness and clarify sliders in the HDR dialog, but I couldn't find any settings that I was really happy with. In the end I settled on using a brightness of 10 and clarify of 90 to give the image on the left. There is plenty of detail in this image but I just don't think it's that impressive, and it certainly didn't really represent what I'd seen with my own eyes.
To try and rescue something from the photos I turned to the Smart Photo Fix dialog. As you probably know from previous posts this allows my to adjust the overall brightness, the highlights, shadows, saturation and sharpness. Usually a few minor tweaks to the shadows and a small increase in the saturation brings an image to life. Unfortunately I couldn't seem to improve the image that much. I darkened the shadows, which helped pick out the brickwork, and increased the saturation to breath a little life into the grass (for the curious I used values of 10, -80, 10, 20 and 0), but a decent usable image escaped me.
I intended to file the image away and forget about it, until I saw Synflame's recent posting showing the inside of the Palace of the Grand Masters in Rhodes. Rather than showing colour photos he'd converted them to black and white and they were stunning (I'd be interested to see the originals for a comparison). So I decided to see if converting to black and white would improve my rather dull image of Helmsley Castle. I experimented with converting some of the original photos as well as the HDR attempt, but the best results came from using the HDR image. I could have just reduced the image to grayscale but I found that using PaintShop Pro's Black and White Film process produced a slightly better image (even though I didn't apply a colour filter). The final step in the processing was to apply the one step noise removal filter to soften the image slightly; I nearly always do this and I don't know if it is a problem with the camera, the processing or just personal preference -- I'd be interested to know what other people think.
So having thought I'd lost out on a good photo of Helmsley Castle I'm actually really happy with the final image.