Someday images just roll off the screen, other days they need a mallet, an axe and a small construction zone to get them to work – in this case I am still not seeing the result I wanted.

The conditions could be considered epic i guess, brilliant orange burning on the horizon and ominous dark clouds directly overhead, this however, did not make for a easy shot, especially when i messed up the exposures 😉 I really need more than 3 exposures per bracket to give a smooth transition between the highlights and shadows.

Anyway, I used a graduated filter and also bracketed the frames but still struggled to capture the entire dynamic range and the composition certainly looked better in my head than what it turned out on the screen. I think i will chalk this one up to the one that got away.

3 bracketed frame panorama.
f/8 at 1, 4 and 15 seconds

HDR vs Non-HDR

HDR is great in my opinion, it gives us plebs with cameras that lack the dynamic range or without a set of graduated filters an alternative for getting those great shots with lots of dynamic range.

I have, however found myself moving away from the HDR option in some instances, there have also been a number of cases where I find a correctly exposed image and some NX2 PP really delivers results that i would prefer over the HDR version, I can also see whats going on behind the scenes so to speak.
I have found HDR images coming from Photomatix, for example, need quite an amount of noise reduction and increased sharpening not to mention that extra amount of tweaking to get that image looking sensible, which in the bigger scheme of things means quite a bit more time on each image and also the increased number of files sitting on my computer.

So for an example I worked hard on the following scene to try and see what image (HDR vs non-HDR) came out looking better and with the least amount of time.

Can you pick the HDR?