Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Enhancing a photograph with HDR for black-and-white conversion, part of Photoshop CS5: Creative Effects.
With this photograph, we're going to examine how we can use HDR Toning in order to enhance a photograph that we want to convert to black and white. One of the first steps when working with HDR is typically to duplicate our document. Let's go ahead and do that by choosing Image and then by clicking on Duplicate. Here I'll click OK, so that we have another version of this document. You can see the other one in the background and here we have the copy file. Next thing I want to do is, before I go to HDR Toning, I notice that the shadow detail here is a little bit lost.
So I want to equalize things a bit and I'm going to do that by going to Image > Adjustments and then by selecting Shadow/Highlights. What this allows me to do is to bring up the brightness value of the shadows. You can see that I'm increasing that shadow detail there with these sliders. I can also darken some of the highlights by increasing these sliders here. You can see that what's happening in this case is we're essentially evening out the tone a little bit. Take a look, here we have that before and then now our after.
The reason I'm doing this is with black and white photographs tone becomes incredibly important. So, I want to equalize this a bit and then apply an HDR tone effect to this document. Let's click OK to apply that and then make our way to Image > Adjustments and now, HDR Toning. In HDR Toning, one of the first things we want to do is desaturate. We want to remove color. Next, I want to increase the Detail. What I'm looking for is something that gives me Detail where I have this really crisp aesthetic.
I'll then lower my Radius, make that even smaller and increase the Strength a little bit here. I'm just going for a look that has his really ultra crisp look, because I'm going to blend this back into my original document. Next time I may modify my Gamma a little bit, just getting this exactly where I want it. Typically, we want to brighten things just a little bit more than we're comfortable with. So again I'll just do that, just a touch there and Shadows are okay, Highlights I think, they're okay. So maybe a small adjustment there. Well, in this case, we have this look which is kind of deep-fried. It's over the top.
Yet, not to worry. We're going to click OK to apply that, then we'll press the V key and hold down the Shift key and click and drag and drop to bring this into our original document. Let's press F to go to a full-screen view mode. Now that we have this layer, we can start to use it. Now there's no way that we're going to use this at this full intensity. There's too much going on. But we can use some of this interesting contrast as we convert this image to black and white. Let's name this layer hdr toning, and then let's go ahead and click on the eye icon to disable the visibility of this layer.
Next thing I want to do is click on one of my Black & White conversion layers, say like this one here, the Black & White layer. Next we will modify the image anyway we want. In this case, perhaps adding a little bit in our Reds and our Yellows. This black and white conversion is okay, but check out what will happen when we turn on our HDR Toning layer and then we take this to a Blending mode of Soft Light. Once we do that, all of a sudden this black and white conversion takes on a whole new life. The next step of course is going to be the mask this in to particular areas.
So here, we want to create a mask filled with Black. In order to do that really easily, press Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows and then click on the Add layer mask icon. Next step, grab our Brush tool, here we want to paint with White with a relatively low Opacity. So I'm going to go ahead and take this down even a bit more. Nice soft edged brush, no Hardness. Increase the size there a little bit, actually even a little bit more. Next, all we're going to do is just start to paint in this effect. We want to paint this in incrementally so that we can see how this looks here.
Because I'm painting with such a low Opacity, I have a lot of control over how much of this effect is actually going to come into the image. Even with this small amount that we have here, the photograph is taking on a new life, and I found that when you're converting to black and white, some of these HDR tone aesthetics can really help out to just add a little bit of punch to your black and white images to make them a bit more vivid. Now this can be true whether it's a photograph of aspen trees and it's a landscape image or with your people photographs like this as well.
Let's look at our before and after. Here we have that, before and then after. Let's go ahead and push this a little bit further. So I'll crank up my Opacity here and then I'll just start painting. Continuing to paint with White, just adding a bit more of this look. I just want to be careful that I don't add this into any the areas where it's too strong. So I think that beard is kind of nice. I really want to bring up the grizzled nature of the beard and the eye there and little bit on the eye-patch, not too much though on the shirt here. I don't want to go too far with this. I do want to have some accent, kind of highlight down there, but again not too far.
Well, I think that's looking pretty interesting. Let's evaluate how we've done. Here we have it before - this was the original Black & White conversion - and now after, we have all of these intriguing vivid tones. The last thing that I'd want to do here is perhaps darken up this side of the image. To do that we'll click on our Adjustment layer icon. Here, we'll choose Curves. We'll go ahead and just create a darkening curve and then we'll invert the mask. To invert the mask, press Cmd+I or Ctrl+I. Next, grab our Brush tool and all we want to do is just paint over this area.
We're just going to paint over here, just darkening this up a little bit. I make my brush a bit bigger here just to add a touch more of a darkening effect on this side of the frame, just looking to bring darkness there up just a bit, to kind of even out things, just a little bit there. I go into the Mask panel, and in the Mask panel, I'll feather out my brush strokes, because those were pretty rough. I think that looks nice. Here, we have the before and after. Our overall before and after. Check it out! Here it is. Before and then after. I'll zoom in even a bit more so you can really evaluate that before and after.
As you can see, by using this HDR Toning effect, we're able to create some really intriguing and crisp contrast, and also we're able to draw the viewer in to particular areas by using a mask and by painting this adjustment into those particular areas.
- Adding light and drama
- Enhancing color and tone
- Applying graffiti and reflections to surfaces
- Using lens blur and focus to enhance portraits
- Masking multiple images and adding elements
- Combining images with multiple depths of field
- Using layers masks and blending with HDR toning
- Applying border and edge effects
- Adding a sense of motion
- Understanding vanishing point perspective
- Using Photoshop plug-ins