I will try to explain my approach and process, but I am not going to try to do so in layman’s terms, so I apologize in advance if anything mentioned isn’t fully understandable.
To begin with, I started with 7 bracketed images with exposure compensations of -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3. I really felt I only needed to blend the -1, 0, and +1 exposures, as I was sure I would have enough detail from these and that the extremely over and under exposed images wouldn’t make much more of a difference. These are the RAQ images I chose to blend:
I merged the images for HDR processing and dialed in some settings to tone map the image to my taste. This typically only gets the photo about 70%-80% processed. Here’s the result:
I felt this image needed to have the shadow details brought out more. Not only did I want to embody a sense of being in the photo, or rather evoking the brain to believe that it had a memory of being there, I wanted to encapsulate a dark-ages period look. I learned a spectacular, undocumented method of double tone mapping, and so I processed the image one more time. Here’s how it turned out:
That looks much better to me. But it’s not done. I see several problems with this image that still need to be edited. For one, there some major ghosting of people. I don’t mind people being in the pic, but some of ‘em look a little tourist-y, and of those some are just hanging around too long in one spot. So much so that there’s enough light reflected off of them and captured in the image. Also, the pulpit area looks a little dark, the chandeliers almost disappear as they hover in the shadows, and the light entering through most of the stained glass windows look blown out. I took the last HDR image and the original RAW files into Photoshop and I masked out most of this. And I also ended up bringing in the Exp +2 RAW image to help mask out some of the ghosting. I admin I kinda did a sloppy job, too. Here’s the mask I initially created and the result of the masking:
Well, I went back and fixed the sloppy mask, and I also brought in Exp -3 RAW image to help mask out the blown out light entering through the windows. Here’s the final image:
Enjoy the complete image set slideshow!