Here’s a shot I took during our 2010 Death Valley workshop. I was teaching one of our students how to manage the dynamic range – and to produce a sun star in-camera.
This is a blend of 3 images using our iHDR manual workflow. I used a small aperture to create the sun star. While trying to take a test shot with a GND filter, I noticed that the filter was reflecting the sunlight and creating a hot spot on the cactus. So, I removed the filter and used the histogram to determine the appropriate bracketing for a manual blend. In Photoshop, I blended the images, and then used the healing brush tool to touch up a few dust spots in the sun star. I use a Wacom graphics tablet for touch-ups – it gives me precision that a mouse simply can’t handle.