I really am a pretty fortunate person...to live in the community I live in. This picture was taken down the road from my home. I never thought i would love living in a suburban/rural area, as I was always a "city girl." I attended graduate school in Indiana, having moved directly from New York City to rural Indiana. I remember driving through all of these farms and corn fields as I embarked on the biggest culture shock of my life. I cried the entire way and swore I'd never live near a farm (or eat corn) again. Oh how life changes you.
Image Processing Details
This is a 3 exposure HDR shot. I almost always shoot at least 5 exposures for HDRs, but this horse was not cooperating with the time it took to fire off 5-7 consecutive shots. I suppose that really doesn't matter because I simply masked in the horse from one exposure anyways. But, because this scene was a low-light situation and there was not a vast range of light/tonal information I needed to capture, 3 exposures were fine. After processing in Photomatix, I did touch up in Photoshop. The tone mapped version directly out of Photomatix was pretty good, so I didn't really mask in a lot of stuff from other exposure layers, other than the horse who was a bit "ghosty." I usually put a dark vignette around my shots because I like how this effect draws the viewer's eye to the focal point of the image. I also dodge a bit around the subject of the image to add extra emphasis. I didn't use any additional filters (i.e. Topaz Lab, Phototools) on this shot.
Halos (in HDR images)...It's got to stop!
As I post my images on Flickr and check out other people's work, I can't help but notice what I believe is the biggest problem among HDR images....Halos. If you are a photographer, you know what Halos are. For those of you who don't, it is a fringe of light around objects in an HDR photograph, often where subjects such as trees or buildings meet the sky. It is a common feature of tone mapping, but one that can be controlled. Some folks may argue that this type of extreme tone mapping is an artistic choice. This may be...and if you are making a conscience choice to create this type of style in your work, then it's all good. Hope I don't offend. BUT...for the rest of you, halos can be controlled with certain Photomatix sliders such as the Highlights Smoothing slider on the shadows and highlights tab. Play around a bit with these sliders before accepting this gaudy, cartoon-like version of your work. It happened to all of us when we first started creating HDRs, but it can be overcome. Stay strong!!