Multi-image HDR is created by combining several images of different bracketed exposures, taken at the same time in rapid sequence. This is the traditional method, and depending on the number of bracketed images your camera can take, offers the widest range of exposure and tonal detail to create your HDR image. However, for multi-image HDR to work effectively, there has to be zero movement in the scene during the sequence of bracketed shots. The challenge with foliage is the amount of movement from frame to frame with wind blowing the branches, leaves moving, clouds passing across the sky, and other uncontrollable elements.
Where subject motion is possible, as with landscapes, the single-image process may be preferable. It starts with a single RAW image — from there, you process it several times with software such as Canon’s Digital Photo Professional; processing is varied to create intentionally light, dark and neutral renditions of the single RAW exposure. Then, use a editing program with HDR capability, such as Photomatix™ or Adobe® Photoshop® to combine those images and create an expanded dynamic range. You can create HDR effects that range from subtly increasing detail in the highlights and shadows, to much more dramatic effects that surreally exaggerate the colors and tones in your scene.
Thinking Beyond Color
The most difficult part of fall foliage photography for most people is simply finding the right subject. Ironically, it’s easy to be distracted with the color, so that actual subject content and scene composition are less important that the leaves. The secret to overcoming this challenge is to start by getting rid of the color — that way, you can concentrate on finding the perfect subject, composition, and lighting, to “hold” the color. To do this, try using the Monochrome Picture Style mode.
How will Monochrome Picture Style help you? Your images will appear in B&W on your camera’s LCD, and without the distraction of color, you will be better able to find that perfect combination of scenic composition, point of focus, angle of light, subject texture, etc. These are the elements that will make your photos really powerful.
Please note that if you shoot JPEG images in-camera, your Picture Style is locked in – so the Monochrome image you capture in-camera will ALWAYS be a monochrome image. If you shoot RAW images, however, you will preserve all the original color information in the photo, allowing you to produce a finished color or B&W photo – even if you originally shot it with the Monochrome Picture Style.
If you prefer shooting in Monochrome Picture Style, EOS cameras also allow you to simulate the effect of applying traditional yellow, orange, red, or green filters used with B&W photographic film. When using the color filter effects, the B&W tones are portrayed differently, depending on the color. Basically, each filter will lighten its own color tones, and darken their complimentary tones. For example a green filter will lighten green grass and darken reds or yellows, such as warm skin tones. The red filter will lighten the deep reddish or golden tones of autumn leaves, and darken a blue sky, resulting in a very dramatic effect.