I took a photo yesterday on Roan Mountain, on the AT.

In the foreground is an overgrown meadow. Midground is a nearby mountain, dark in contrast with the sun setting just over it. In the background, more cascading mountains.

This was shot in RAW on a Canon 40D and I'm doing post-processing in LR 4.4.1.

I'm no expert, but it seems to me that each zone needs a separate exposure level. But it could be that I need to adjust the lighting in some other way... any help would be appreciated.

"RAW" exposure... I'd probably use something around this lighting for the mid-ground mountain-and-flare: enter image description here

Adjust exposure to +1.9 for foreground:

enter image description here

Sky and background mountains are mostly visible around -0.4:

enter image description here

Any thoughts appreciated... both about post-processing and what I need to do next time to make this easier.


While there are multiple ways to do this, my preferred approach is exposure blending. You basically take multiple exposures from LR and blend them together in Photoshop using luminosity masks. You may not even need 3 exposures to get a satisfactory product if you start with the right settings in LR to generate the first image. I took the 3rd exposure you provided and used dodging and burning in PS to bring out the foreground highlights and darken the background. It may be possible to do the same thing in LR (it has a dodge and burn capability) but it would require protecting areas and focusing on specific tonal values - and I am not an expert on these.

Roan Mtn .png file with dodging and burning

If this is not enough light in the foreground, you can overlay the brighter image with the darker image and use luminosity masks to bring through the lighter parts as desired. I tried this, but the lighter image is a bit blown out - it is so bright that some of the detail in the foreground is lost.

Greg Benz is an expert at this and has several free youtube courses as well as a master course on exposure blending. He also has a number of free tutorials on lightroom and photoshop settings to enhance color and texture. He has a specific tutorial on HDR versus luminosity masks that may help answer your question. HDR Vs. Luminosity Masks by Greg Benz

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