These Chicago image-enhanced photos are a mixture of HDR photography and specific software plug-ins that create a painted and gritty look to the photographs. High Dynamic Range is a process of shooting two or more images of the exact same scene (or double processing one image) and combining them to produce one high quality image with a full tonal range to fully capture much of the tonal variation in a contrasty scene, such as a bright sky with deep foreground shadows.
The process involves photographing a scene with a variety of exposures to fully capture the tonal range and the combining the images in Photoshop to eventually produce one correctly exposed image. Then a specific filter is applied to the image to produce a painterly effect, making sure that certain details are somewhat preserved, such as windows of buildings or lettered signs. A second filter is then applied to created a highly detailed, gritty look to bring out all the elements in the scene. Not all images receive the same filter enhancement; the scene dictates what kind of gritty effect is required, whether it be more detail, saturation, contrast or brightness. The process can take up to a few hours of refinement to get the exact effect that is required. In the end, the result is a familiar subject with a surreal flair.