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As perfect mood setter for this entry, I just finished my post process on my images of the Northwest Classics event at the Tillamook Air Museum. I wasn’t expecting to do much photography there, so all the post I needed to do was a bit of a surprise.

Anyhow, this is the promised discussion of post processing of the WAAAM Second Saturday photos I promised.

When I post process aviation photos, plugins by Nik Software are very important. This shoot is a little special in that regard, because it was my first aviation photography experience with the new HDR Efex Pro2.

Let’s start with an HDR intended to look realistic. (I’ll leave judgement as to whether it does or not to you.)

J3 Cub and L4 Grasshopper at WAAAM (Rick A. Brown)

How I start all my HDR work is to go to the image sequence in Lightroom and crop the first image as desired and then apply chromatic aberration correction and the other lens corrections if I desire on that specific image. (HDR Efex Pro2 also does a great job of chromatic aberration correction, I just find it easier in Lightroom.) Then sync these settings to the other images in the sequence.

Now, export the sequence into HDR Efex Pro2. The plugin initially opens into a merge dialog box. The extra time it takes to work through this dialog is a minor annoyance, but the improvement it allows in ghosting correction is worth it. I always turn on the alignment, don’t know why but even a sequence shot on a solid tripod seems to need it. Ghosting gets turned on if any object was moving during the sequence. Pick the image that best gets rid of the ghosting and play with the blend percentages while looking at the suspect object through the loupe. I already corrected the chromatic aberration, so I check this off. After this is done click the “Create HDR” button.

This will open the image into the main UI. At this step, I start in the Tone Compression panel. I initially adjust the tone compression and method strength really high to help illustrate the changes being made and then adjust it back down later to taste. Starting with the depth setting try the normal, strong and subtle settings for taste. Turning this off makes the image flat enough that it won’t really work for a realistic looking image. Leave the detail on its default realistic setting and the drama to its default natural setting. At this point, adjust the tonal compression slider as far to the left as you can and still have the dynamic range you need.

Going to the Tonality panel it’s hard to give specific advice as this is all to taste. I can advise that these sliders essentially work like the Lightroom sliders and mention that I usually boost the contrast and structure a little bit. Use all the other panels to taste, sometimes I do a lot with them and sometimes nothing.

Then there are the surreal images.

WACO UBF-2 at Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (Rick A. Brown)

For these, start the images the same way. The first difference is when you reach the detail slider in the HDR method. Sometimes I move this slider to “accentuated”, such as in this image. The most important difference is to set the drama slider to sharp. Immediately your image will have a very cool, hyperreal look. Then it’s just a matter of doing the tonality and other panel settings to taste.

Then there’s some images where I used the Color Efex Pro4 recipes I mentioned earlier on my blog.

 (Rick A. Brown)

This image was done with the aviation enhancer recipe that includes Pro Contrast, Detail Extractor and Darken/Lighten Center. This was done instead of HDR because I didn’t want to do a sequence right then because I was avoiding scattered showers.

Then there were a few images that I did nothing more than Lightroom adjustments, such as this first person view from the 1908 Stanley Steamer.

First Person view from Passenger seat of 1908 Stanley Steamer at WAAAM (Rick A. Brown)

Take a closer look at my WAAAM gallery.