Driving back from giving a weekend night photography workshop last year I took the back roads on the Big Sur peninsula. I stopped at this forest view and shot five exposures at roughly 2 f-stop intervals on tripod down in the dark forest with light streaming above. Getting home, I filed the captures and forgot about them. There are many fish to fry in my life.
Yesterday, I came upon this sequence and decided to process the photos as an HDR image. Ultimately, this involved four trips through Photomatix, several monochromatic conversions, some layers in Photoshop, two Nik Color Efex Pro filters, two effects from Mystical Lighting, as well as some LAB channel adjustments.
The image as presented is, of course, a physical—or at least visual—impossibility. You would never see the level of detail shown in the image in the real world in the dark, lower part of a forest when the bright light source was streaming down from high above. But the impossibility is plausible, which is part of what I seek in my compositions.
The only thing this forest lacks is a nice woodland fairy dancing along the forest paths among the shafts of light!