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In this movie I will show you how to create what I am calling a vivid HDR portrait effect using Adobe Camera RAW. Let me give you a sense of where we're going. We're going to start with this image of Alicia, captured by my buddy Jacob Cunningham. And we will initially convert this into this overwrought effect here, and then we will go ahead and settle down the luminance levels a little bit like so, and we will reestablish the shadows. Now, I love these over-the-top colors, but if this isn't the look you're going for, or you feel like the skin is looking a little bit too yellow, then you can reestablish the original colors, like so. Let me show you how it works.
I will go ahead and switch over to this image, which contains a Camera RAW Smart Object. Let's create an independent version of the image by right-clicking inside an empty portion of the layer here inside the Layers panel and choosing New Smart object Via Copy. And I'm going to go ahead and call this new layer "amplify all," because we're going to be amplifying the color values and the luminance levels and the detail and so forth. Then go ahead and double-click in the thumbnail for the New layer to go ahead and open Camera RAW. I am going to start by taking the Fill Light value up to its absolute maximum, which is 100, and also go ahead and raise the Recovery value nearly as high, to 75.
Now, the Fill Light value brightens up the shadows, by the way; the Recovery value dims the highlights. Because we brightened the shadows so dramatically, I am going to have to take that Blacks value, in the case of this image, up to its absolute maximum, which is 100. Now, depending on your image, your results will vary, so you may have to modify the Blacks value to a different degree. Now let's take the Contrast value up to 50, and I am going to take the Clarity value up to its absolute maximum, which is 100. Let's make a few adjustments to the Temperature and Tint values. I want to cool things down, so I am going to select that Temperature value and press Shift+Down Arrow four times in a row in order to reduce the Temperature, in my case, to 4,500 degrees.
Your value may be different. Now, to remove some of that pinkness that I am seeing inside the image, I'll also take the Tint value down to -30. Now, the image is still too bright, so let's go ahead and switch over to the Tone Curve panel; click on the Parametric tab in order to reveal the Highlights, Lights, Darks, and Shadows values; and let's go ahead and take that Lights value and take it down to -20. I will take the Darks value down to -50. And finally, I'll take the Shadows value down to its absolute minimum, which is -100. That ends up darkening up the image considerably.
Next, move over to the Detail panel. And where these kind of faux-HDR effects are concerned, you generally want to maximize the first three Sharpening values, so go ahead and take that Amount value up to 150, take the Radius value up to its maximum of 3.0, and finally, take Detail up to 100. Now, if you feel like that's too garish, of course you can back off those values, but I want to make sure you can see the sharpness here inside the video. Now I'll click the OK button in order to accept that effect. Now, as I mentioned earlier, things are fairly overwrought at this point.
Not only does Alicia's skin look fairly yellow, but it also looks rather sunburnt in areas, and I want to calm that down. So I'm going to right-click in an empty area of this amplify all layer, choose New Smart object Via Copy once again, go ahead and change the name of this layer to "B&W," and double-click the layers thumbnail to open Camera RAW. Now switch over to the HSL/Grayscale panel by clicking on this fourth icon, and I want you to turn on Convert to Grayscale in order to create a grayscale version of the image. Now, generally Camera RAW does a great job of coming up with automatic grayscale conversions.
In this case, however, it has done a dreadful job, so click on the word Default here in order to zero out all the values. And for this image I am going to raise the Reds values to 25, and I am going to leave the other values absolutely alone. So 25 for Reds, everybody else 0. Click OK. That's all we have to do there. Then go to the Blend mode menu up here in the upper-left corner of the Layers panel and change it from Normal to Luminosity, so that we are overriding the luminance levels of the layer below. So let me show you the difference. This is what the "amplify all" layer looks like by itself, and this is what it looks like when we add the black-and-white variation.
Now, I love the way that the various luminance levels react inside of Alicia's face; however, I'm not that happy about losing the shadows here inside of her hair. Normally, if we were working with a single layer, we'd be able to force through some of the shadows from the original Alicia layer; however, we've got two layers stacked on top of each other. So here's what we need to do. Go ahead and select the original Alicia layer, if you're working along with me. Then press Ctrl+J, or Command+J on the Mac, in order to create a copy of that layer. Move the layer to the top of the stack, like so, and then double-click on an empty portion of the layer--not the thumbnail, but an empty area--in order to bring up the Layer Style dialog box.
And I want you to drop down to the This layer slider bar and drag that white triangle over to left, until you see a value of 100. Then press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and drag the left side of that triangle all the way over to the left, until the This layer values read 0 and then 0/100. Then go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. And what we've done, by the way, is we've gone ahead and filled those shadows back in. And notice if I turn off that original Alicia layer there on top, I lose the shadows; turn that layer on again, and we get the shadows back.
If you don't like these over-the-top colors--totally up to you, by the way--then you can go ahead and turn off the "amplify all" layer, and that will reveal the colors from the original image. Now I will go ahead and press the F key a couple of times in order to fill the screen with the image, zoom in, and just to give you a sense of what we were able to accomplish, this is the original version of the image, and this is the vivid HDR Effect, created using a combination of Photoshop and Camera RAW.
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