Point Lobos Magic Forest (California)

If I had to choose only one location to visit and photograph between Los Angeles and San Francisco along the scenic coastal Highway 1 I would not hesitate with my choice: it would be definitely Point Lobos State Park.

Travel Photography - HDR Processed in Photomatix
USA. California. Point Lobos
Loc: 36.52185, -121.95099

During my visit to California last January my plan was to visit Point Lobos for an hour just before the sunset and then drive to Monterey, but I was out of luck. Later that afternoon a cold and heavy fog descended from the mountains and canceled the sunset for good. It was dark around 4pm.

I had to change my trip’s itinerary. I drove back to the park the first thing in the morning the following day. I had never visited Point Lobos in the morning, and when I entered the park around 9am with the sun shining from the east and I could not recognize the place. It looked very different compared to the afternoon hours. It was probably the best visual proof that quality and direction of the light defines and distinguishes the photographs.

Anyway, long story short, instead of spending an hour or so in the park I stayed there for the entire day. Since sun was shining for the most of the day, which is perfect for HDR photography, I managed to fill my 32Gb memory card full of bracketed shots.

Deconstructing Featured Photo

HDR Bracketed Shots: Photomatix Processed

Camera: Canon 60D
Lens: Sigma 10-20mm
Focal Length: 10mm
Shooting Mode: Aperture Priority (A)
ISO: 100
Aperture: F8
Bracketing: 5 shots (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1)
Tripod: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442  – Check my FEISOL Tournament CT-3442 Review.
Ballhead: FEISOL CB-40D

Processing: HDR Processed

Lightroom: import, tagging, export to Photomatix
Photomatix: 5 exposures (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1) were used to tone map image, 16-bit tiff image was exported to Lightroom (Tutorial: Complete HDR Workflow).
Lightroom: straightening, cropping, color correction, export as PSD image
Photoshop: cleaning, sharpening

Photoshop Plugins:
– Topaz Detail was used to enhance details in foreground elements (grass)
– Topaz DeNoise helped to eliminate noise in the middle of the image (sun rays)

Archiving: I save all my photos as JPEG (quality: 100%) at full resolution and with the help of the Lightroom plugin, I synchronized them with my portfolio on SmugMug for safekeeping, sharing, image hosting and online sales.

Do not forget that my FREE Lightroom Preset Collection is always free for all subscribers to my newsletter.
  • Hi,
    Sometimes you process the HDR with PhotoMatix, sometimes with Photoshop. What lets you decide which program you use?

    • To extend dynamic range of the photo I use 4 different techniques. Lightroom with single exposure, Photoshop HDR Pro, Photomatix and Luminosity Masking in Photoshop. Each technique has its own advantages and limitations. Sometimes I know in advance what technique I want to use and sometimes I have to try them first to see which woks the best. I guess it comes with the experience. I suggest to master one technique and then move to another. I would start with Photoshop HDR Pro, here is the tutorial http://www.phototraces.com/natural-looking-hdr-photography-guide/

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