Cinderella Castle – “Enfused HDR”


Cinderella Castle

1/1000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — Canon 5dMk2 with 24-105 f/4L
Taken 3/7/2009

Cinderella Castle – “Enfused HDR””

ORIGINAL BASE IMAGE (for comparison sake)

ORIGINAL BASE IMAGE (for comparison sake – note the DARK shadows in the foreground)

I recently came across a Lightroom Plugin called LR Enfuse (click) which takes several photos in Lightroom and merges them into a single HDR (high dynamic range) image, similar to typical HDR software but without all of the sliders and controls.  Intrigued, I downloaded it and gave it a shot and was impressed with the outcome.  While not as fancy and CGI-looking like the output from Photomatix, etc., the Enfuse plugin did a great job at combining three exposures from a series of shots that I took in 2009 and gave it a great starting point to do a little more tweaking.

This photo of Cinderella Castle, taken in March of 2009, represents the final image from a series of 3 bracketed images that I took, hand-held.  I ran the Enfuse plugin on the images, which generated a merged photo and imported the merged photo back into Lightroom.  A few more minor edits and the final output was produced, which you see here.  What I like most about this image of Cinderella Castle is that the highlights are not blown out AND there is great detail in the shadows, along with an appropriate amount of vibrance and saturation, all in one shot – WITHOUT it looking over-the-top and unnatural.  We have all seen HDR images that look like, to quote my buddy Dennis, “clown-vomit” and I really try hard to steer away from that look.

My Canon 1Dx, curiously, does not have an in-camera HDR mode and there have been no rumors about one coming via firmware upgrade.  By contrast, my Sony a6000 mirrorless does have the in-camera HDR mode and I really, really like it.  This Enfuse plugin seems like a fair compromise for now to enable simple HDR in my Canon, although I would really have liked an in-camera option, especially given that lesser Canon bodies have the function but the top-of-the-line pro body does not.  Curious.

Lightroom Enfuse is “donateware”; it will work just fine without being registered but the output is truncated down to 500px on the long edge.  You can donate whatever you so choose to unlock the full functionality.  Personally, I recommend it to anyone who likes working on HDR’s and is a fan of Lightroom.  You can bet that you will be seeing many more “Enfused HDR’s” on this site in the future.

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