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Okay, let me show you how I did it. How did we take three images from an HDR series shot in the desert and create something that was compelling, with vivid tones, but not over the top HDR? Let's take these three images into Photomatix Pro and we'll merge them. These particular images were taken on a tripod. But I will check for ghosts. This is partially because we have clouds, as well as some movement on the road. I definitely want to reduce the noise in the images.
And because it's a high contrast photo, I reduce chromatic aberrations. Let's do some selective deghosting here for a second. And zoom in. All right. So the shots here, if you look very closely, you could see that we have a little bit of a trail on the edge of the car. So let's choose that and preview the deghosting. And the car snaps in nice and clean. That worked out well, and of course, later with post-processing, I probably actually remove this other photographer in my shot, these distracting blue boxes, and probably the car altogether.
But we're just going to focus on the photomatic side here. And while we're in here, let's check to see if the clouds create any problems Nope, everything looks pretty good. So I could simply click return to move onto the next step. I merged the photos and then I'm going to play with some of the tone mapping settings. Because it's a high contrast photo, reducing chromatic aberrations will help clean up the edges of the rock edge as it meets the sky. Let's take a look at tone mapping here. And we'll start with some of our presets.
These are extremely vivid here and I want to be careful to not make it look too painterly. Now these rocks were very intense so there is quite a bit of texture there. But I think that we're getting into the right ballpark here. Let's come with a softer look. And experiment with some smooth as well. I like the lighting effects but I think I'm going to keep that relatively simpler. So we'll pull the lighting adjustments down and let's play with the overall strength. There we go. Back off the saturation a bit.
And I like that. Play with the black point so the blacks become really crisp and those shadows look like dark shadows again. That's really helping restore the photo realism to that rock. going to lower the gamma a bit so the image is a bit darker. Because I want this rock to be a bit shadowed while the background here's properly exposed. And let's roll the colour temperature a little bit to change the colour and mood so the sky's a bit bluer. That feels pretty good. I'm going to smooth out the highlights a bit. We'll bring out some of the saturation there, you'll note how the mountain is coming through.
I like bringing out the saturation in the highlight region so the background starts to pop. And then the shadows, I'm going to pull some of that saturation out so they're not so intense. And let's smooth that a bit. All right. That looks pretty good. Note: you can clip the shadows if you want them to become darker. That feels pretty good. And let's just apply a little more smoothing. Look at the edge there, in particular, as you play with smoothing. If you go too far, you start to get some weird artifacts. So balance that out so you get a little bit of smoothing, but no additional artifacts.
Alright, that looks good. I will click Apply to generate the tone-mapped image, and let's finalize this out. I'll bring up some of the saturation in the reds a little bit, as well as the oranges. And you see that's adding a little bit of pop there Little too far, so we'll back the orange off. Bring up the red. Let's pull the yellows down a bit. And bring up the blues and the aquas for the sky. That looks good. I'm going to pull down any magentas and greens. Thing is I don't want it to feel too lush, and I'd like that a bit more subdued.
Under contrast, let's experiment with medium contrast. It's a bit too much. I like what's happening in the highlights, but the shadows are too intense. So we'll back that down a bit. Right about there. Let's lift the highlights a little. Feels good. And Sharpen with a medium amount. Alright, I'll click Done. And store the file, and that's how I processed that image.
Now it's up to you how you did yours, but I just wanted to really get the feel of the desert. Nice rich earth tones, really rich intense blacks, but not to push it too far so the HDR was adding to the image but not being the effect.
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