The finished photo turned out a bit darker than I originally thought it would. And I'm not sure why - but that is where I wound up. Sort of went a bit Charles Addams. (Google it.) This is my first attempt to combine focus stacking and HDR.
The initial issue when trying to combine the two styles is how can this be pulled off? In a perfect world, you could take three sets of stacked images and try to combine them. Let's see, 5 shot stack for each three or five set HDRs. Quick! I need a non-Common Core math expert. Will the HDRs be sharp enough to line up? Will HDR negate the photo stacking effect?
The primary goal here is a sharp image. The focus, pun intended, here should be the focus stacking. My light contrast just isn't all that wide so any HDR is really for effect only. The image pixel information will be there - no blown channels.
So the plan is to focus stack to one .tiff image, then using ACR increase or decrease the image two stops to blend.
The image information: 6 shot focus stack. f/stop 8; 1.3 seconds; ISO 100; 18 mm; Manual. Camera was ground level on the tracks, using a bean bag for support.
Last is I know there will have to be a background 'sky' inserted. I'll deal with that later in the process, I need to concentrate (couldn't use focus again.) on the scene.
Step One: The plan. Completed.
Step two: Focus stack the image: This is the merged image from the six shots. The 'extra' in the background couldn't stand still for all the shots. Anyway - the primary purpose of the stack is for the subject to be in focus all the way through the depth of the photo - and it is.
Step two: Completed
Step three: Remove the background. (And I hit it with a bit of sharpening and contrast effect.).
In trying to keep the DMRRC theme, the sky is from the mural with can be seen in the Hollywoods Station photo. As it is just the top of the mural, tough to tell, but it is the mural. I did the layer work in On One. For me right now, On One seems to be much easier and quicker than Photoshop. On One has a feature called 'smart brush' that allows painting out around objects fairly easily. In Photoshop, the 'smart' brush' function starts with defining the object, then removing layers of pixels for sharpness. Anyway - with the On One I have some decent definition with the trees.
Step three: Completed.
Step four: HDR it.
OK - lets dispense for now the argument that what I'm about to do really isn't HDR. If it makes you happy to say that I'm doing a process that generates an HDR like image, go with it.
Since I'm working with .tiff files, all the pixel data is there. There is plenty of room to move the light around
I decided to go with a total of five stops. Two Up, two down and a 'normal'.
To do this, I use the ACR 'Exposure' sliding bar.
I'll move the slider to a value of -2, -1, 0, +1, +2 taking an image at each stop. I'll then put the images through Photomatix using the Default setting to help set the colors.
Step four completed.
Step five: Finish it off.
I didn't see anything in Photomatix that got me. I saw some interesting effects, but nothing that was the end. So I put it through Nik's HDR Efx pro 2. OK - there's some stuff. That will put some edge to it.
And the final image is:
As I mentioned in the beginning, it is a bit dark. I could lighten it up a bit but this works for me.
As I go through these, I keep thinking that this probably isn't what the DMRRC was thinking when they offered my club access to the layout. But that's OK, there were 12 other photographers there who probably came up with some real nice shots they'll like. I sleep OK.