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At the beginning of the process of assembling individual exposures into an HDR result using HDR Effects Pro, you have the option to create a Smart Object within Photoshop as part of that process. If you take advantage of this Option then HDR Effects Pro will be applied as a Smart Filter. That means that at any time we can go back into the tone mapping settings for HDR Effects Pro, to slightly modify or completely change the interpretation of our photo using HDR Effects Pro. Let's take a look at that basic process.
Here I've assembled an HDR image and I selected the Option to create the result as a Smart Object. So you can see what would otherwise be my background image layer on the Layers panel in Photoshop is now a Smart Object, as indicated by the icon at the bottom right of the thumbnail. And because HDR Effects Pro was then applied as a Smart Filter, we see a Smart Filter attached to our Image layer and HDR Effects Pro to indicated down below. At any time, I can double-click on the HDR Effects Pro filter, in order to bring up HDR Effects Pro, so that I can fine tune the settings for the image.
That means that in effect, I'm going right back to the beginning. I can modify any of the settings using a completely different preset for example, in order to change the interpretation of the image. An that can be completely different from what I originally used, or it can be much the same. I could simply fine tune some of the settings over on the right panel for example. The point is, that I have the flexibility of always being able to get back to my settings in HDR Effects Pro, if I take advantage of the Smart Object Option.
I'll go ahead and click OK in order to apply this change to the image, and once that processing is complete, we'll be taken back to Photoshop, and we'll see that the update is indeed reflected in my photo. It is important to keep in mind that there are some limitations here. For one, I'm working with a 32-bit version of the image. That's a 32-bit high dynamic range image, and so there are certain adjustments that just aren't available. For example, I can apply a Levels adjustment but not a Curves adjustment. I can apply Hue saturation, but not Vibrance.
So there are some limiations here. It's also very important to keep in mind that taking this approach does mean that I need to be careful about a layer based workflow. If, for example, I were to perform some image cleanup work using a separate layer, painting pixels from one area of the photo into another area of the photo in order to remove an object. If I then go back and change the settings for HDR Effect Pro, I'm going to be changing the settings for the underlying image but not the image cleanup work that I performed.
So ideally, you'll use the Smart Object setting initially as you continue fine tuning and making decisions about the overall interpretation of your image. But once you get to the point where you're using a layer-based workflow for image cleanup or other adjustments, then it's probably best to not return to that Smart Filter. In fact, you may even at that point want to initially flatten the image by choosing Layer > Flatten Image, in order to avoid the situation where you would want to make changes to that original smart filter. Because again that means you would go back and redo your image clean up or other layer based work.
But all things considered, it's very helpful being able to go back and refine the adjustments using HDR Effects Pro, thanks to the ability to apply HDR Effects Pro as a Smart Filter to a Smart Object in Photoshop.
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