Black and White HDR

I had made this image of a 1946 Ford Coupe last summer but wasn’t satisfied with the result.  The derelict car needed contrast, detail, and impact that I wasn’t getting.

3 spot metered area

I liked the subject matter.  Old cars, derelict buildings, ruins — these things are interesting to me.  But, in my estimation, the image needed some work.  In fact, the image needed a re-take.  So…back to the site. 

The site, by the way, is interesting.  I found it while looking for an abandoned house (mostly stone walls) that I had seen years ago while exploring the area.  What I found was an empty clearing.  The owner had removed all of the stones for, I suppose, use somewhere else.   But, about 100 yards away — back in the forest — sat this car.  The trees had grown up around it to the point that there was no apparent way the vehicle could be moved.


Here is what I did differently in the field on the second effort:

1.  I returned after the leaves had fallen from the trees.  I thought the picture would have more impact with the harsh pattern of trees and limbs.

2.  The small tree trunk lying across the car was distracting (to me, at least) so I removed it.

3.  I positioned my camera a bit lower so that I could capture the entire oval of the rear window.

4.  And, most importantly, I made multiple exposures (7) so that I could treat it as an HDR in post processing.

The post processing is pretty straight forward so I’ll just hit the high points:

1.  After loading into Lightroom I exported the seven raw images (still in color) to Photomatix Pro for processing to HDR.  In this case I made no other actions in Photomatix Pro.  (Dear Reader, if you haven’t dabbled in HDR, you owe it to yourself to look into some tutorials on the internet.) 

2.  I imported the HDR back into Lightroom and, after choosing Black & White in the basic panel, I bumped up the contrast about one stop and the contrast up to +45.

3.  Then, with an eye on the histogram, I adjusted Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks to the degree I liked.  And, finally, I increased Presence to +65.

4.  Last task was to tighten the crop a bit from the earlier effort.

There is something to be said for the warm feeling of the color version but I like the pop of the black and white version for this subject.

A final note about HDR:  I find that it is VERY easy to over do HDR.  In color, especially, a little goes a long way.  Conversion to Black and White (as in this case) puts a level of realism back into the image.

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Jim - I like Black & White, love HDR. I like that you got a lower angle to include the oval back window and removed the branch from the hood. There was another horizontal tree/branch in the back left that bothered me and was removed or fell on its own. My one negative here is that in the color image the car stood out much more while the B&W lacked the punch that the color image had.
I do enjoy your site and hope you’ll have a chance to look at mine. I also have stuff at
Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

skeeter - Thanks, Jim. I did check out your zenfolio account — in my opinion, you have a great eye for composition and the “story”. Glad you enjoy the site.


joyce. Tarter Rideout - I really enjoy your blog and the valuable information you share. I’ll share it with my photo group in Carmel.

skeeter - Thank you, Joyce. I appreciate you sharing with others. I checked out your web site, Particularly like the Venice in the evening shots. John

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