Many people asked me how we created this effect (some call it “HDR-ish”, but there is not much from actual HDR in it). Let me, Alex Koloskov, briefly explain here how this can be achieved.
1. The shooting technique
The idea is simple: to slightly overexpose the foreground and slightly underexpose the background in one shot. I achieve this by using on-camera speedlite strobe (Canon 580EX II in my case, but any other will work as well) and dialing Flash exposure compensation to +1EV (+-0.5EV) and dialing ambient exposure compensation to -1EV (+-0.5Ev).
Doing this allows the camera to capture things like a vivid blue sky even on slightly overcast days and have more contrast on everything by slightly underexposing the shot.
On the other hand, additional power for a filling light (the strobe) adds brightness for anything in the foreground and visually separates the subjects from the background.
For all the shots below I’ve used the Canon 8-15mm F4.0L fisheye lens, and extremely wide viewing angle requires to have a diffuser on the flash (The 580EX has a built-in one, which is appreciated a lot:-)
Shooting Mode : Av (aperture priority), which means strobe works as a filling light.
To see what this technique let me get out of the camera check the ‘before” images below.
2. Post Production
Below is a step by step detailed description of the necessary steps:
This is the photo with Adobe Camera RAW Default settings:
The video with example of processing one of the images
Hope this will help you learn the technique. Remember that I show you my way to do this, and I am sure there are several ways to achieve a similar effect. Do not limit yourself, go ahead and experiment with settings and you’ll develop a technique which will work the best for you.