HDR Photo Processing of the Grumman A-6E Intruder

In case you couldn’t tell, I recently took some photos of some planes.  Last week, my gang and I went to the Museum of Flight in Tukwila, WA.  I was inspired by an offer/contest by photographer Ron Martinsen to write a post detailing how I post process photos using the various tools that he has reviewed on his site at http://www.ronmartblog.com/.  I’ve been following Ron’s website for a couple of years now and have gotten excellent use out of his software reviews (notably the suite of gems from Nik Software).  So, without further ado, here is my post processing pipeline!

I shot a lot of bracketed photos at the museum because it was really sunny and I planned on hitting up some of these shots with the HDR treatment that I learned over at Trey Ratcliff’s site Stuck in Customs.  First I had to pick a subject.  For this one I went with the Grumman A-6E Intruder jet plane.  This plane just screams “bad ass”.  I fired off three bracketed shots, each two stops apart.  It was sunny out and I had a fence to lean on, so I did not use a tripod.

Intruder Three Exposures

These three shots were put tossed into HDRSoft’s Photomatix 4.0 (more info about Photomatix on Ron’s site here).  Photomatix 4.0 does a great job of lining up frames that are a little off kilter from having not been shot on a tripod.  I picked the “Fusion – Smooth” preset and processed the photo.

Intruder Tonemapped

The resulting tone mapped image looked pretty good, but I wanted a bit more punch in the clouds so I put it through Nik Software’s Viveza 2 for Lightroom (Ron has a great article on that here).  Next up I wanted a black and white version to mix with the original to I put the photo through Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro (learn more from Ron).

Intruder B&WNext I fired up Photoshop and put the B&W image layer over the tone mapped image layer.  I changed the blending mode on the B&W layer to “overlay”.  This is a technique that I use a lot.  It really helps punch up the contrast and structure of an image.


I also added a saturation layer to take away the green reflections on the belly of the plane and picked up the vibrance on the whole shot (minus the grass).  Finally I added a vignette over the top of everything and called it a day!

Intruder Finished

I’d like to thank Ron for all of the excellent information and inspiration that he’s provided me and his followers over the years.  If you’re as crazy about photography as I am, then you owe it to yourself to check out his website at http://www.ronmartblog.com/ as well as his burgeoning forums at http://forums.ronmartblog.com/.

This entry was posted in Photo Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to HDR Photo Processing of the Grumman A-6E Intruder

  1. Wow, nice job and a very cool site!

    One note, your link for Stuck in Customs goes to niksoftware.com

    Your readers can get discounts on Nik Software and other products here if they are interested.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks Ron! I fixed the link.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>