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Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR)

Single-shot HDR


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Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR)

with Ben Long

Video: Single-shot HDR

Tone mapping is a very powerful tool. It can cherry-pick the very best tones from a multitude of images to create a new final image. Now obviously the more image data that it has to work with, the better the chance is that the tone mapping software will be able to find a good source tone for every little pixel in your image. As you've seen an image with higher bit depth can have a broader selection of tones than an image with a lower bit depth. JPEG images always have 8-bits per pixel, while RAW files typically have 10 to 14 bits per pixel. So it's usually better to shoot RAW images for your HDR work, for the greater Bit Depth.
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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

Single-shot HDR

Tone mapping is a very powerful tool. It can cherry-pick the very best tones from a multitude of images to create a new final image. Now obviously the more image data that it has to work with, the better the chance is that the tone mapping software will be able to find a good source tone for every little pixel in your image. As you've seen an image with higher bit depth can have a broader selection of tones than an image with a lower bit depth. JPEG images always have 8-bits per pixel, while RAW files typically have 10 to 14 bits per pixel. So it's usually better to shoot RAW images for your HDR work, for the greater Bit Depth.

If you worked with RAW, then you know that the same RAW file can be processed in different ways. You can change white balance, alter contrast, increase or decrease the exposure. Perhaps you see where I'm going with this. To make an HDR, we need at least three images with bracketed exposures, but can you create just that from a RAW file? Sort of. You can take a RAW file, process it normally, save that, then lower the exposure, process it, save that, and do the same for an increased exposure.

Now you've got three different files. This is called faux HDR or single-shot HDR. It does give you a tone-mapped look. But remember that when you alter the exposure in your RAW converter, you're not creating data that wasn't there before. Yes, you might be doing a little highlight recovery when you lower the exposure, but you're not creating the type of highlight detail that you would capture if you had actually shot an underexposed image or the type of shadow detail that you'd capture if you'd shot an overexposed image.

So while this will get you something of an HDR look, it's not a substitute for the full HDR process. But it is often a good option for times when you're shooting a scene that has moving objects in it. Something that doesn't work very well with a full HDR process, because the moving object precludes having identical frames to merge. I want to clear up one more thing before we go on. I said that your camera probably captures 12 to 14 bits of data per pixel when you're shooting RAW. We don't actually save a 12 or 14 bit file out of Photoshop. We save a 16-bit file.

Now this doesn't mean that we certainly have 16 bits of data per pixel. It just means we have a 16-bit container with 12- to 14-bit data inside it. It's like each pixel value has a bunch of leading zeros in front of it. So single-shot HDR creates an HDR look, but one that's different from full HDR and both of those are of course very different from a single normal dynamic range images that we shoot. In the next movie we'll look at how they're different and what that means for your photographic vocabulary.

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