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While the Shadow and Highlight adjustment filter does a good job at reining in a photos tonal range, the HDR Toning filter does this plus sharpens the image at the same time. We'll eventually remove much of the fine detail in next chapter, but I am a big proponent of initially getting as much out of an image is possible. My rule is, the higher the starting quality the better the result. Now let's examine the HDR Toning filter. First off, HDR stands for high dynamic range.
True HDR utilizes multiple exposed images and then stacks them and does some blending tricks to get the most exposure out of those various exposures that are applied in the HDR process. The HDR Toning filter, on the other hand, performs on HDR-type operations, but it does it on a single image. So it just makes it a little simpler to do. You won't get exactly the same quality you can get from true HDR, but it's a big step towards being able to push an image to get the most dynamic range out of it.
Let go ahead and get our image to work with. So I'm going to go to my exercise files and go to chapter5, and we're going to work with the corrected photo. This is the photo that we applied our dynamic range to earlier. We used the Free Transform tool to get all of the distortion in the buildings out, so we have true vertical and horizontal the way we wanted to visualize for our painting. Let's go ahead and open the HDR Toning filter, and we go to Image > Adjustments > HDR Toning.
Now, what will happen initially here is it's going to apply what it thinks is a good starting point, but you can generally improve on this. The way I normally do this, I start basically by playing with the Detail slider first. And I'll push it more than I normally would here, because I want you to see what it does. See how it's actually attenuating the contrast at local levels within the image. It can almost go too far. So the trick is to find a point of balance that works for your image.
Once you start to turn this up, the next thing I play with is the Radius slider., A0nd again I'm going turn it way up here because I want you to see what happens. You can see how as you turn it up, it starts to become less apparent what's happening with respect to the Detail slider. Without going into huge detail about what all of the sliders mean, the best advice I can tell you is it's really a matter of just kind of playing with them, and somewhat in the order I'm telling you here, and you can arrive a good results. You don't have to be very precise to understand exactly what's going on underneath the hood here, as much as you see visually what's happening within your image.
So after I get Detail and Radius set up the way I want it, I like to go down to Highlight, and I'm going to crank it down probably too much. What I like to watch for is what is a true highlight in the image. And the hood of this car, when Highlight is turned to 0, it's kind of blown out. So I'm going to start turning it down at small levels until I start to see it go into a gray. It's starting to do it there, so I'm going to go back. And it's just a little tweaking process where you get what you feel is an acceptable highlight without it appearing to blow out several levels towards the highlight end of your scale.
So I'll find it right in there. You can also use the Shadow slider, and you can see here I have taken it all way up to 100%. If you look right here where the mailbox is, if we take that back down to 0, you see how things are getting very dark? So I might want to open the shadows up a bit, but it doesn't have to be a whole lot. The other thing that happens here is, by default, the Saturation slider is set to +20%, which you may or may not want. Sometimes I don't think about it and realize after the fact my image looks kind of oversaturated. Why is that? It's because this automatically is set to 20%, and just depending on what you're looking for--now I'm cranking it up here-- I can play around with it.
On the other hand, if I take it down to down 0 or near 0 I have a Vibrance folder. We've already applied Vibrance, but it doesn't hurt to kind of punch these colors up as you go along through these processes. So this Color area of the HDR Toning actually gives us a chance to hit the color of our image with a second blast of Vibrance and/or Saturation. So this is just another stop where you can decide how you want to play with the colors within this image prior to the painting process.
If we go up and toggle Preview on and off, you can see there is quite a change from what the photo was to where it is now. What we're doing here is we are moving it away from that photographic space so that before the paintbrush even touches the image, we've already done a lot to get this image into a painterly head start. So I'm going to go ahead and say OK, and now I have what will become the basis for my image.
In the next chapter, we'll talk about how to simplify what's going on in this image a bit. Then we'll be ready to start applying our paintbrush to this image.
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