While shooting in Nauvoo, I found a beautiful stone bridge built by Mormon pioneers over 150 years ago. The small rock bridge included a small waterfall underneath it, so I knew it was time to take out the camera and start shooting.
Unfortunately, as soon as I got underneath the bridge and waded into the water, I could see that this was going to be a very tough photo to take. The dark bridge in the early morning meant a shutter speed of 30 seconds was needed to expose the dark rock on the bridge. However, the long exposure made the outside area completely white. I usually use a graduated neutral density filter in situations like this, but that would have darkened the top of the bridge as well.
The best option here was HDR, but not the type of HDR that requires Photomatix. I simply took five exposures that correctly illuminated the different areas of the photo, and then masked them together in Photoshop. This technique drastically improved the photo and helped me to control the brightness, but unfortunately I still couldn’t quite even things out.
I was only in the area for one morning, so this was my only opportunity to shoot. The resulting photo (below) is the compilation of the 5 exposures manually masked together in Photoshop. This was certainly an improvement on the first photo (featured at the top left), but I still didn’t quite get the masterpiece I was hoping for. The real answer to this problem would be to come back EARLY in the morning when the outside area would not be so bright.