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Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR)

Merging in Photoshop and processing elsewhere


From:

Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR)

with Ben Long

Video: Merging in Photoshop and processing elsewhere

As I mentioned earlier, Photoshop often does a much better job with aligning multiple image than does either Photomatix or HDR Efex Pro. It doesn't mean that you give up on those programs for alignment. They might be fine, especially if you are using a tripod, but if you're shooting handheld, you may find that you've got to do your merging in Photoshop. Let me show you what the difference is here. This is, I am looking at 100%, a 1:1 pixel ratio, of this image that was merged in Photoshop. Now, I didn't bother finishing it. Don't worry about the fact that it's a little drab.
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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

Merging in Photoshop and processing elsewhere

As I mentioned earlier, Photoshop often does a much better job with aligning multiple image than does either Photomatix or HDR Efex Pro. It doesn't mean that you give up on those programs for alignment. They might be fine, especially if you are using a tripod, but if you're shooting handheld, you may find that you've got to do your merging in Photoshop. Let me show you what the difference is here. This is, I am looking at 100%, a 1:1 pixel ratio, of this image that was merged in Photoshop. Now, I didn't bother finishing it. Don't worry about the fact that it's a little drab.

Just pay attention to the sharpness, and here along this column, and this is the same set merged in Photomatix. Much softer in here, all of these details are much softer now. By the time we shrink this movie down for delivery, I don't know how apparent this will be, but imagine, if you will, that this image is much softer. Trust me, if you do some tests on your own of handheld images, maybe just as you're working, you will find that very often in Photomatix and HDR Efex your merges come in a little bit softer. Adobe has built very, very good alignment technology into both CS4 and CS5.

So what do you do if you run into that problem? Maybe you've been merging along in Photomatix and everything works great and then you hit an image. It was a windy day, you've got a set of images that you were just having trouble standing still, and you were doing your best to shoot similar images, but you came out with some camera shake and they are not merging right. I am going to go in here. Let's say that these did not merge well in Photomatix or HDR Efex. What I will do is merge them in Photoshop. So I am going to go up here to the Tools menu > Photoshop > Merge to HDR Pro. So you've seen this process already.

It's going to go through and merge them into a single 32 bit image. What I need to do after that's done is save that out as a 32 bit file. Photomatix and HDR Efex can read certain 32 bit file formats. So this will take that whole merged, aligned, mess of data that we have right here. I am going to make sure that Mode is set to 32bit. If I do this, which is where I normally perform my tone mapping in Photoshop, if I am doing it there, this isn't going to work, because it's going to spit out a 16 bit file. I can also spit out an 8 bit file if I want.

I am going to go here and make sure that this says 32 bit and I am going to say OK. And it doesn't have to do any tone mapping or anything. It's just pouring that huge data rich blob of 32 bit goodness into a file here. When it's done I will do a Save, and I just need to do one little thing to make sure that it saves in a format that Photomatix can read. So I have Untitled_HDR2, I am going to go up here and choose File > Save As, and I want to be sure that my format is set to OpenEXR. This is an open standard for 32 bit files. And I am just going to through that out on the desktop.

Save this file, and Photomatix can now read that format. So I am going to go out here to my desktop and here is my untitled exr document. I can just drop that right onto Photomatix. Takes it a while to load all that data, but when it's done, I end up here. Now I can start my tone mapping process. I just hit the Tone Mapping button. It gives me an initial tone map and I'm ready to go. If I want to emerge in Photoshop and tone map in HDR Efex, that's a little bit simpler because HDR Efex is a plug-in to Photoshop. So here in Photoshop I've done my merge already.

Now, with this document open I can go Filter > Nik Software > HDR Efex Pro and it will simply open that image and start its tone mapping process. So this is a very easy procedure. So if you find yourself frustrated with soft images after you do a merge into either one of these programs, you can fall back on merging in Photoshop and then continuing with your normal tone mapping, wherever you like to do that.

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