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Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR)
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Finishing an image


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Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR)

with Ben Long

Video: Finishing an image

I want to continue with the image of the three boys that we worked on in the last movie. I am just going to open up the version that we had saved. This is the one where we've already done noise reduction and fixed the chromatic aberrations. So I am going to open it up again in Photoshop. You should have saved version of this from last time. If you're not familiar with what I just did there, the way the windows just popped up, in Photoshop you can zoom in and out of an image with Command+Plus and Command+Minus and if you hit Command+0 it blows the image up to fit as large as it can on screen.
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  1. 6m 46s
    1. Welcome
      2m 0s
    2. What you need for this course
      2m 37s
    3. Using the exercise files
      2m 9s
  2. 24m 55s
    1. Dynamic range defined
      4m 31s
    2. Understanding bit depth
      3m 37s
    3. Image sensor and shadows
      2m 38s
    4. Three methods for capturing more dynamic range
      3m 56s
    5. HDR shooting and processing
      4m 40s
    6. Single-shot HDR
      2m 43s
    7. When to use HDR
      2m 50s
  3. 19m 59s
    1. Finding HDR subject matter
      4m 38s
    2. Shooting HDR
      9m 45s
    3. Workflow and organization
      5m 36s
  4. 17m 52s
    1. Using gradient masks to improve dynamic range
      3m 56s
    2. More dynamic range masking
      8m 57s
    3. Masking with brushes
      4m 59s
  5. 1h 35m
    1. Creating an HDR image in Photoshop
      12m 15s
    2. Creating an HDR image in Photomatix
      22m 5s
    3. Creating an HDR in HDR Efex
      11m 47s
    4. Merging in Photoshop and processing elsewhere
      3m 51s
    5. Using Tone Compressor in Photomatix
      4m 25s
    6. Using Exposure Fusion in Photomatix
      7m 35s
    7. Single-shot HDR images in Photomatix
      4m 18s
    8. Single-shot HDR images in HDR Efex
      1m 3s
    9. Single-shot HDR images in Photoshop
      5m 32s
    10. Ghosting and Photoshop
      2m 51s
    11. Ghosting and HDR Efex
      2m 47s
    12. Ghosting and Photomatix
      6m 36s
    13. Batch processing in Photomatix
      10m 51s
  6. 2h 9m
    1. Reducing noise and correcting chromatic aberrations
      13m 33s
    2. Finishing an image
      8m 42s
    3. Handling HDR images that are "flat"
      13m 37s
    4. Combining HDR and LDR
      19m 40s
    5. Selective editing with HDR Efex Pro
      9m 42s
    6. HDR that doesn't look like HDR
      12m 42s
    7. Tone mapping troubles to watch for
      6m 46s
    8. Why use HDR for black-and-white images?
      5m 26s
    9. Black-and-white HDR
      12m 39s
    10. Panoramic HDR
      12m 3s
    11. HDR time lapse
      4m 24s
    12. Processing the trestle image
      10m 1s
  7. 37s
    1. Goodbye
      37s

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Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR)
4h 55m Intermediate Jul 22, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, photographer Ben Long describes the concepts and techniques behind high dynamic range (HDR) photography, a technique used to create images that have a wider range between the lightest and darkest areas of a scene than a digital camera can typically capture. The course begins with some background on dynamic range, on how camera sensors detect shadows, and on the kinds of subjects that benefit from HDR. Ben then describes and demonstrates several methods of generating HDR images, starting with single-shot HDR, which relies on masking to subtly enhance the dynamic range of a shot. Next, the course covers multi-exposure HDR, which involves shooting several photos of a scene, each at a different exposure, and then combining them using software tools. Ben demonstrates how to use Photoshop and the popular Photomatix software to process HDR images whose appearance ranges from subtle to surreal.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how the image sensor detects shadows
  • Capturing a broader dynamic range
  • Knowing when to use HDR
  • Finding good HDR subject matter
  • Using gradient masks to improve dynamic range
  • Merging in Photoshop and processing elsewhere
  • Dealing with ghosting
  • Reducing noise and correcting chromatic aberrations
  • Handling HDR images that seem flat
  • Combining HDR and LDR (low dynamic range)
  • Selective editing with HDR Efex Pro
  • Creating panoramic HDR images
  • Creating an HDR time lapse
Subjects:
Photography HDR
Software:
Photoshop Photomatix SilverFast HDR Studio
Author:
Ben Long

Finishing an image

I want to continue with the image of the three boys that we worked on in the last movie. I am just going to open up the version that we had saved. This is the one where we've already done noise reduction and fixed the chromatic aberrations. So I am going to open it up again in Photoshop. You should have saved version of this from last time. If you're not familiar with what I just did there, the way the windows just popped up, in Photoshop you can zoom in and out of an image with Command+Plus and Command+Minus and if you hit Command+0 it blows the image up to fit as large as it can on screen.

If you are using Windows you'll be using the Ctrl key instead of the Command key. So a lot of times during these tutorials you are going to see this kind of thing happening and I am just using Command+Plus, Command+Minus and Command+0. I am going to hide Bridge just to keep things from getting confusing here. So let's think about what else needs to be done with this image. We've done a lot to it already. We took three source images, mergef them into an HDR, into a 32-bit image, then tone mapped that image, then brought it in here and removed chromatic aberrations, reduced noise.

In the tone mapping process we did a lot of tonal adjustments and made a lot of decisions. What else go we need to do? Well, I can just start from scratch at this point. Look at this image just as if it was something I had taken out my camera and tried to figure out what it might need. And as I would do with an image that I've taken right out of my camera I want to look at the histogram. And I go up here to Window > Histogram and when I see this little exclamation mark over here that means that the histogram is not completely accurate. I am going to click on it to tell it to generate a real histogram.

And this is showing a three channel histogram, separate superimposed histograms with the red, green, and blue channels. I am really just interested in tone at this point. I am not worried about color. I just want to see if my tone is as good as it could be. So I am going to switch over here to Expanded view and change this histogram to Luminosity. Tell it to update again and just as I was thinking, the image looks a little low contrast and sure enough I don't have a strong black. I don't really have strong whites. The bulk of my data isn't just this little bit of my histogram right here, so I am going to start with tonal adjustment.

We always do tonal adjustments to an image before color adjustments because corrections in tone can very often fix color. I have added a Levels adjustment layer. If you didn't see what I did there I went down to this menu at the bottom of the Layers palette and chose Levels. And it added this Levels adjustment layer here and I see my Levels adjustment up here. Because Levels includes a histogram, I am going to close up my Histogram palette there. So I need a stronger black point, I am just going to move this over here and you can see that I am clipping well into the black.

I am eyeballing this to see where I want it. I don't want to lose too much detail in here so I am going to back off a little bit. I am ultimately going to print this image and all images darken up when I print, so I am going to kind of keep that in mind. I could move my white point but I don't know that I need to. Yes the image gets a little brighter. I don't want the sky to get any brighter than it needs to, so I am just going to leave that right about there. Otherwise I am feeling pretty good about where the tone is. I think I want to maybe brighten their faces a little bit, but that's going to be a separate action.

So with tone where it is, if I look at this image what's bothering me about it now is this grass is really green. This is where I am starting to get into some of that HDR thing that I don't know that I want. It's looking a little hyper-realistic. It's looking like someone opened this image and hit the Saturation slider much more than I would like. So I want to desaturate these greens. I don't know that I need to desaturate the whole image. I like there is some warmth in their skin tone. I am not minding the orange shorts and the yellow shirt here. I like those colors. It's just the grass looks like AstroTurf.

So I am going to go back here to my Layers palette, go down here to the new adjustment layer, and add a Hue/Saturation layer. I can see my Hue/Saturation controls. If I drag Saturation the left I desaturate the entire image. I am kind of liking that actually now that I see it but I want to try desaturating just the green, because I want to see what happens if we leave these where they were. So I am going to undo that, which I did that by hitting Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. What I would like to do is have a localized de-saturation that only hits the green tones.

The easiest way to do that is to click on this thing right here, this little finger, and come down here and click on some of the green in my image. So I am just going to find kind of a mid- tone green right there and when I click and my cursor turns into that little finger thing, the same one we saw up there in the pallet. I am going to drag to the left to desaturate. And now I am desaturating only the grass. The orange shorts and the yellow shirt are staying the same and I will put that about right there. That's looking a little more realistic. I'll undo that for you, so you can see before and all I am doing is hiding this Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

That's before, that's after. Think for a minute about why that looks more realistic. Is that just because when I see really saturated color, I think image editing? Not necessarily, although that is part of it, but also when there's more light you usually get more color saturation. With grass when there is more light, it normally looks brighter because all the time you see light shining from behind it and it's semi opaque and so it really lights up. This is a completely cloudy day. The grass should look dull.

Colors shouldn't look too saturated. So a lot of times the way you understand where saturation should be is to think about what the lighting in the situation is and how it should actually look. Less light means less saturation. This is a dark and cloudy day. So I am happy with that. Last thing I want to think about maybe is just to be sure we get a good view of their faces, I might want to brighten those up. I am not sure that this edit's going to work or not but I am going to take a Levels adjustment and add a Levels adjustment layer.

We will zoom in here because I want to see their faces a little better. I am going to brighten them up a little bit with the mid-tone slider. I am not going to do this with the white point because if I brighten with the white point I'm also increasing contrast a little bit and I would rather just have the mid-tones be a touch brighter. Now that's happening to the entire image, I am not worrying about that. I am just looking at his face and just keep an eye on his face. This is the original; this is brightened up a little bit. It is like that I am losing some of the shadows around his eyes.

Again this image is going to go darker when it prints, so it's better to err on the side and just a touch too light. So the problem is that happens to the entire image. I wanted to only affect his face so I'm going to use my layer mask here to take care of that. I am going to zoom back out for a moment so you can see what's going on. I go up here to the Select menu and choose All. The entire image is selected. Clicking on here to make sure this highlight is around my layer mask to indicate that it's going to receive the edits. I am going to go up here to Edit and choose Fill and tell it to fill it black. Hit OK.

That fills my layer mask with black. So now nothing in the image is getting that lightning effect of my adjustment layer. Select > Deselect. Now I am going to zoom back in and I am going to grab a paintbrush, make sure I have white paint, and then I set my brush size to be about the size of his face, which it is, and I am just going to paint on there a little bit and you can see his face brightening up. If I look at my mask you see it punched a little hole in the mask that's allowing the brightening to come through. I painted only on the top of his face here because it makes sense that the lower part of his cheeks and his lower lip would be in shadow and so would be a little darker.

Sometimes we follow what makes sense lighting-wise and sometimes we are cheap like I am doing right now, which is I am going to lighten up sockets of his eyes a little bit because the eyes are very important. Fortunately there's still the total relationships of his eye sockets are still correct, the upper part is still darker than the lower part, but overall the whole thing is brighter. So just to get it a before-and-after look here. That's before, watch his face. That's after. Before, watch his face. That's after.

So I think that's probably about all I want to do to this image. I would want to size it, sharpen it, and do a test print and check out my notes and if they needed any refinement, come back because I've done everything is adjustment layers. I can very easily tweak these adjustments and get them correct.

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