With this exercise, I move beyond the point at which I am comfortable making changes to photographs. Whilst I have tried in the past to make HDR comps I have never really liked the final result, frequently such photographs look highly "manufactured". I would prefer to get it right in the camera, using filters if need be.
After two weeks of completely Blue skies I finally saw a cloud a few days ago and rushed to fetch camera and tripod. Unfortunately this was still far from ideal as the sun was in the direction of the clouds, however I set up on a busy city junction where I could get a good uncluttered sky line. I took a series of 7 shots separated by 1 stop each, the two I have selected for this exercise were as suggested 2 stops apart
In lightroom I have adjusted the levels on the second image and ensured that they both are using the same white balance setting. In Photoshop I selected and deleted the sky:
I then added the former image as a separate layer directly beneath the latter:
I have tried to work the image to create a more natural look, but this still looks wrong to me, perhaps my lack of technique or simply two images meshed together is false. Alternatively I worked on the image in Lightroom some more and produced the following, which is better than the merge although the colour in the top left is degrading. Overall perhaps a better photographic choice to start might have been better, however, the climate is not kind at present.
I have then used the original masked image and loaded 4 different skies as layers:
Two of these are clearly fake and a little fun for me, although the Volcanoe is quite fun, even if the sun is completely in the wrong place. The first is a tropical sky, the 4th a Munich sky. both look added, although not completely false.
My take on all of this remains that I have now stepped across the Rubicon and am making changes that fall outside my comfort zone, into areas that I feel risk undermining the credibility of photography.