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Because it's actually quiet simple to use HDR Toning to create really surreal- looking images, what I want to here take a little bit of a different approach. I want to take a look at how we can leverage HDR Toning, and apply that to an image and apply it in a way that perhaps doesn't look very good, but then use that image and blend it perhaps into another photograph in order to come up with a look that's much more subtle. Let's take a look at how we can do that here with this black-and-white photograph. The first thing I want to do is navigate to Image and here choose Duplicate.
Go ahead and click OK. I always like to duplicate my original image just so I have that extra flexibility, and here with this technique it's going to be quiet important. Let's zoom in on the photograph, and then we will navigate to Image > Adjustments, and here we are going to choose HDR Toning. Now on this HDR Toning dialog, what I am going to do is bring in some nice Detail. I am also going to modify my Exposure and my overall Gamma. I am just looking to modify these controls until I get a look that I think is kind of interesting.
Add a little bit more of that halo effect, a little bit more Detail and again, just looking to trying to find a sweet spot, and I am evaluating this image really thinking about the contrast and also the details that I have here. Now at this point, I am aware the image does not look good at all. Yet, stick with me just for a couple more minutes. I am going to go ahead and darken this up a touch as well, and just modify my curve here again, really just thinking about contrast and detail. Here, we will click OK to apply this.
Now the next step is, of course, going to be to move this off to the side, select our Move tool, hold down the Shift key and then click and drag this onto the original document. Well, on this original document let's press F to go to full screen and then zoom in by pressing Command+Plus Ctrl+Plus on a PC. Well, at this juncture, what we can do is either use blending modes or masking in order bring in this HDR Toning effect in a more subtle way. For example, let's go ahead and take a look at how this works with a Soft Light blending mode.
Well, on Soft Light alone, it already is looking kind of interesting. Here we have it our before and then our after. We can compare this with Overlay. That's kind of interesting, but perhaps a little bit too much. And also Hard Light sometimes comes up with some good results. Well, in this case, Soft Light is the clear winner of the day, and all that I want to do here simply lower my Opacity. And as I lower my Opacity, I am softening this effect. Let's click on Eye icon. Here is our before and then our after.
If we zoom in on the photo a little bit more, you can see what I mean. Here we have it before and then after. Now, of course, how far you go with Opacity is completely up to you, but there is something interesting that happens when we blend this HDR Toning layer into the original background image. Now the last thing that I want to point out here is another approach that you may consider is to leave your Opacity all the way up and then to hold down Option or Alt and to click on the Add Layer Masker icon. This will then conceal this entire HDR Toning layer.
Next step, select your Brush tool, find a good nice Opacity here, and I will go ahead and bring my Opacity up just a touch, and I am just going to start to paint across a few areas of the image in order to bring this effect into a couple of areas of the photograph. Bringing it on the face and also on the chest, and there I will go ahead and bring it into some of these pilings in the background and a couple of other areas as well. My brush strokes at this point are perfect, but I am not too concerned about that because I can always soften it up with the Feather slider here and also because this is a demo. My brush strokes don't really need to be perfect.
But here now we can see that if we click on our Eye icon, here's our before, and here's our after. We now have a higher amount, but because we painted this into specific areas this higher amount can sometimes work better, or on the other hand, we can always even lower this back. Now just bring this into those specific areas and perhaps in even more subtle way. Now the point here isn't to follow what I have done exactly one-to-one. Rather, the point here is to get you to begin to think about how you can use this HDR Toning adjustment tool in order to make adjustments that you can then blend or mask into your photographs in order to create a look that's perhaps even a bit more intriguing and compelling.
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