Autumn has been particularly beautiful this year. Until roughly a week ago, we had only little wind and not too cold weather, so the leaves stayed put for a long time. Sadly that has now changed…

Luckily, we visited the picturesque National Park Söderåsen in Skåne, Sweeden while the colors were still at their best. Hiking the forest was a wonderful experience, following trails along the small river until it eventually took us up the ridge overlooking the rift valley. Just as we came there, the setting sun broke through the clouds again and bathed the area in gorgeous golden light.

Working fast with the camera, I managed to capture a series of exposures, intending to run these through some HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing to be able to capture both the sun, the sky and the dark areas in the valley.

Back home, I started working on the files as I normally do on all files in Lightroom — and quickly discovered that the D800 had captured all of the high dynamic range scene in the first shot. There was no need for any fancy HDR processing. I adjusted the image as I normally do, here making sure the darker colors would look right. I didn’t have to increase saturation much, as the colors were already dark and saturated. I then pulled down a graduated 2 stop filter over the sky area, in the same way as I might had done in the actual capture on location (if I would have had a filter suitable for the 14-24mm f/2.8) and increased the clarity some. A little CA correction, and that was pretty much it, I think. The result is what you see here, just out of Lightroom.

I did try to stack some of the bracketed images, and run them through either Photoshop or Luminance HDR. The results were significantly less convincing, and since I had not brought a tripod, alignment errors caused some ghosting too.

So I gave up on that, and felt content with the straight shot from the remarkable D800! And oh… I didn’t find any issues with flare from the 14-24mm f/2.8 here either. There is an expected slight lack of contrast in the valley close to the sun, but it is less than what I would have expected. And in fact, I happen to like the effect here as it almost enhances the “emotional mood”.

If you click the image, you can see a larger version (or find your way through to the full 36MPix capture).