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I almost don't want to show you this...

I make architectural advertising photographs. That is, I apply my ability to make art for the benefit of my architect and builder customers. It is always my intention to make photographs that are attractive and thus encourage you to visit my customer's website or community, etc.  In other words, I am in the customer attraction business.

This winter, I was under pressure to make outdoor photographs of several shopping centers for Capano Management. The bad weather was holding up photography and the lack of new photography was holding up the launch of the new website.  Ideally, sunshine and blue skies were a basic requirement. No snow and little salt were important to making the photographs look less time constrained. On this particular day, the weather was fine when I set out but it deteriorated as I drove south.  I knew the weather would improve as the day went on, but I was taking my chances.

By the time I arrived on location, the skies were completely overcast and it was blowing and cold. Not ideal for portraying a pleasant shopping experience. I would need to pull out all the stops to make an acceptable photograph.  If this were the only location, or if it was the most important, than the following approach might have proven inadequate.  As it was, this was the lesser location and I could redeem myself by making the most important ones look great.

Photoshop and Lightroom are amazing tools for the photographer. I knew that if I punched the &#@_(^%T!! out of it, I could save my &%$S.  I mean, if I maximize the saturation and use the HDR tools at my disposal, I could make an acceptable photograph. 

This is what the scene actually looked like:

 Gloomy, un-retouched scene as captured.

Gloomy, un-retouched scene as captured.


The Enfuse HDR plugin for Lightroom used 3 images in this case. The contrast and clarity is increased for the shadows in the overexposed image. The vibrance is increased in the normally exposed image. The highlights of the sky are allowed to be overexposed in both of these images. Because Enfuse looks mostly for exposure difference, the punched up saturation of the blues in the sky of underexposed image will drop in place. In Photoshop, we can green up the grass in the lower right corner and de-saturate the brighter values of the salt in the macadam.
 

 Apply digital photographic tools, Photoshop, Lightroom and Enfuse, to make HDR improved image.

Apply digital photographic tools, Photoshop, Lightroom and Enfuse, to make HDR improved image.

 



The sky appeared to be opening up to the south, but this is what I encountered when I arrived at the next location.  I had made a selection of images here and I could do the same thing as in the previous example if absolutely necessary.

 

 More bad weather. Actually it was clearing to the south. If I could photograph the more southern locations first and return here in time...

More bad weather. Actually it was clearing to the south. If I could photograph the more southern locations first and return here in time...



Going to the 3rd location I found better weather. Returning to the second location about two hours later allowed me to make this photograph:
 

 A successful dusk elevation. Some light painting and greening of the foliage was all that was needed here.

A successful dusk elevation. Some light painting and greening of the foliage was all that was needed here.


The overall results were Good, Better and Best. And it was in the order of importance to my customer.