Green in California

The hills in California are finally green after a dry spell over the winter we finally got some rain.  However I know this won’t last too long.  Finally we had a day with some cloud cover, but not the typical grey sky, so I headed out to try to capture the hills while they are still green.  I found a driveway right off of the highway that was quite appealing.  After parking off the road and walking less than 50 feet I was able to take the above photo.

I put the image on Facebook and Google plus and received some nice comments, one person thought it looked surreal and someone else claimed it was a product of just bumping up the saturation, which was not at all the case.  The reason why the photo looks like it does is a combination of a great camera, great lens and using 3 separate exposures combined into one.  The human eye can see a range of light that far exceeds the capability of even the best digital cameras, so by taking 3 or more exposures at different apertures, you can combine them using software to use the best exposure for each part, a technique called HDR or High  Dynamic Range.  To demonstrate, the photo below shows one of those three exposures, without any post processing on the left.  On the right side is the final image after combining 3 exposures.


You can see that it is not a matter of increasing the saturation, something that lower end cameras do automatically to make pictures look more vivid.  Instead the differences are one of exposure or how light or dark the image is in each part.  That is very beneficial with the sky area, letting the final product be closer to what my eyes saw than any of the individual images were able to produce.

Photo Details
Bay Area, California
Nikon D800
Nikon 16-35 mm f4.0
Focal Length
28 mm
f8 with ISO 200, 3 exposures at 1/500, 1/1000, 1/250 sec
Post Processing
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom then Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 using 3 images

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