If you take the Washington D.C. Metro to Foggy Bottom, you have just a short walk to my new favorite restaurant, Founding Farmers, which has been voted “Best Restaurant in America.” They start you off with the most amazing vintage copper bowl of Sage and Browned Butter Popcorn, then we had some virgin drinks that were to die for. The best was the Mint Limeade. Good choice, Scott! We also loved sharing the Chocolate Mousse Bowl at the end. My dear friend, and former TA, Emily Kunz, told me this was a must-have experience while in DC, so I met my daughter, Rachel, and her husband, Scott, for a memorable and relaxing dinner. We were lucky to get same-day reservations. It was booked, but they somehow had an opening at 5:30.
We waited for a few minutes so I snapped a few shots before we went upstairs to our table. I did not set up a tripod. I just braced myself and took three bracketed exposures for the first image so I could try what I call the “Normal Rockwell” painting effect. I asked Scott and Rachel to hold very still, but of course the people in the background were moving. It was the waitress who was really moving, so I had to use the Photomatix de-ghosting tool to prevent her from appearing twice in the blended image. It is much better to elminate “ghosts” in Photomatix rather than in Photoshop with a mask. I just discovered this Photomatix feature and it works great when you have people in your HDR images.
RESTAURANT STORY: from the Founding Farmer’s Restaurant website:
“Since September 2008, the award-winning Founding Farmers has been one of the country’s leading restaurants to offer farm-inspired American True Food & Drink in a modern, casual, and eco-friendly setting. From our modern farmhouse, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch menus include homemade and “scratch-made” traditional American classics inspired by the heartland.
A collective of American family farmers owns our restaurant. We source our fresh products from family farms, ranches, and fisheries across the United States. We celebrate and share the longstanding connection between farmers — the first to lead the “green” movement — and their historic stewardship of natural resources.”
PROCESS: I was going for the Norman Rockwell painting look for the first fineart image in this post. I wanted to recreate the subtle ambience I felt when I stepped in this restaurant. So I took three different exposures (hand-held) with my bracketing feature, then used Photomatix (auto-align) to blend them together. I used the de-ghosting tool (mentioned above) and tone-mapped the image. The HDR often adds too much grime on people’s faces, so I did a little airbrushing on their skin to reduce that effect. I just reduced the paintbrush in Photoshop to 30% opacity and flow, then painted with a medium skin color. I also had to darken some areas with the Burn Tool that were too bright for the older, grungy look I was going for. Finally, I added some sharpness in Photoshop to bring out some details.
SCREEN VARIANCE: Please remember that images will look different on every monitor, so I am curious to know how these look on your screen. On my Mac, they look fine, though the first one is a bit dark. On my husband’s PC the first image is just right, but the others are too bright. Color saturation can really vary from screen to screen as well. It is hard to find a happy medium.