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HDR -- a tutorial

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Dave2006 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dave2006 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: HDR -- a tutorial
    Posted: 22 January 2009 at 23:08

HDR a tutorial


prepared by Dave2006




Software



Programs used are Photomatix Pro 3.0 & Adobe Photoshop CS3 with Camera Raw 4.6.0.30.



Photographs



Three or five shots need to be bracketed; there are various settings available on each camera, a degree of experimentation is required to find what you are happy with.



It's best to use a tripod and shutter release to avoid movement, although handheld is possible, a higher ISO has to be used to get a fast enough shutter speed, the higher ISO will cause more noise/grain.



In the case of handheld bracketing 3 shots is going to be better as there is less chance of movement.



I use RAW files only. There is no need to alter WB unless you want to experiment. I do not use flash and I try to get the lowest ISO possible bearing in mind any possible movement in front of the lens; anybody in the shots will cause 'ghosting' if they move.



Processing



1. Open Adobe CS3



2. Go to File>Automate>Merge to HDR. A grey window will open.



3. Click Browse to find the files. Select the files & click OK.



4. The files selected will now appear in a new window.



5. Uncheck 'Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images' if you used a tripod. If handheld, make sure this IS selected. Click OK.



6. Once the program has finished running, a window will open with 3 to 5 images down the l/h side with various EV settings and a green tick in each box. On the r/h side is a histogram and the middle has a very odd looking image, perhaps looking 'blown out' in places. The bit depth should read 32 Bit/Channel. There is no need to alter anything here just click OK.



7. a) The HDR file will reopen in a conventional window. Go to File>Save As.

    b) Another window will open. Choose a file name and location as you would for any other file, BUT in the format field choose Radiance {*.HDR,*RGBE,*.XYZE} then click Save.









8. OPEN PHOTOMATIX



9. Go to File>Open then locate the Radiance file just created, Click Open.



10. A fairly dark looking image will open.



11. a) Go to Process>Tone Mapping. A new window will open.

      b) On the r/h side is a box with various sliders, make sure you select the Details Enhancer Tab.

      c) On the Presets drop down select Default (do this every time a new HDR project is started)

      d) Now enter the following settings. I find them a good starting point.



      Strength: 100

      Colour Saturation: 100

      Light Smoothing: Click the Middle/Medium setting

      Luminosity: 10

      White Point: 0.010%

      Black Point: 0.632%

      Gamma: 1:00

      Colour: Leave as it is

      Micro Contrast: 6

      Micro Smoothing: 0

      S/H: Leave as it is.



12. Click Process.



13. A fairly odd looking image will appear, parts of it may look grainy/noisy no need to worry that is normal.






14. Go to File> Save As and SAVE THIS AS A 16 BIT TIFF



14a.   Name this file TOP



      OPEN the Radiance file again in Photomatix On Presets click Default





15. Enter the following settings:



      Strength: 84

      Colour Saturation: 69

      Light Smoothing: Click the 2nd from right/High setting

      Luminosity: 0

      White Point: 0.250%

      Black Point: 0.059

      Gamma: 1:00

      Colour: Experiment with this to get something you like but +/- 3 either way

       on any setting is enough

      Micro Contrast: 2

      Micro Smoothing: 8

      S/H: Depends on the image





16. Click Process.







17. Go to File> Save As and SAVE THIS AS A 16 BIT TIFF



17a. Name the file BOTTOM





18. Go back to Adobe PS3





19. Go to File>Open and select the 2 TIFF files created.



20. Now what I do is place one image on top of the other, holding down the shift key while dragging and dropping, this will 'pin' align the 2 images.



21. I then change the opacity to merge the 2 shots together.







22. I then use a layer mask to remove or bring out various parts of the image.



23. Flatten the combined image and again save as a 16 Bit TIFF.



23a. One or more of the 'original' RAW files once processed and saved as a TIFF can also be layered.   Any cloning, perspective changes or cropping should be done before moving to the next step.



24. Many of the colours will be very bright and the image will need other adjustment so the next step is:



25. Go to File> Open As, a window will open and select the 'combined' image. At the bottom of the window is an 'Open As' drop down, select Camera Raw and click Open, this will open a TIFF file in the RAW interface. Adjust the shot as desired here.



26. Click Open Image again as a 16 Bit TIFF, at the bottom of the window there is some underlined text click on this to change the settings.



I do the following to most images.



27. On the layers palette make a copy of the image then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian blur and set the radius at about 60 pixels, click OK.



28. Change the layer palette blending mode to Soft Light and reduce the opacity to what suits the image. Then from the layers palette Flatten Image.



29. You may wish to do a curves or levels adjustment



30. Go to Filter>Distort>Lens Correction and add a Vignette, click OK and from the layers palette Flatten Image.



31. Go to Image>Mode and select 8 Bits/Channel





SHARPENING



32. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask. Apply the following settings:



      Amount: 200%

      Radius: 2.0 pixels

      Threshold: 0



Click OK



To reduce artifacts created by over sharpening and to soften the effect:



33. Go to Edit>Fade Unsharp Mask. From the Mode drop down select Luminosity and then adjust the opacity to suit.



















Edited by Dave2006 - 15 January 2013 at 21:04
 



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Octupi View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Octupi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 January 2009 at 00:21
I'm wondering why you merge the files in CS??? You can merge your raw shots in Photomatix to generate your radiance file and save a few steps.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Saratoga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 January 2009 at 01:21
Nicely laid out.

Obviously I skip a lot of that out, not having Photoshop here

In Photomatrix, "HDR" and "Generate" and select the camera generated RAW files.

Now that you've written the above, can you make one out for the Gimp or something
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dave2006 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 January 2009 at 01:24
I have edited the tutorial to make it a little easier to follow and more in line with how I process HDRs at this time.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Kakaku Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 January 2009 at 07:29
Thanks for the write up. I've tried HDR several times but never with any usable result. Now I feel like I'm ready to try again!
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Dave2006 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dave2006 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 January 2009 at 13:56
Originally posted by Octupi Octupi wrote:

I'm wondering why you merge the files in CS??? You can merge your raw shots in Photomatix to generate your radiance file and save a few steps.


I have no technical answer to this, its just that I feel the results are better this way but there is no reason not to try it as you mentioned.
 



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darosa View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote darosa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 January 2009 at 15:00
Thanks a lot Dave for this detailed tutorial. I had the same question as Octupi, and I will try both methods to see if they yield different results.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DboardC124 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 February 2009 at 05:39
Thanks so much! I've always wanted to get into HDR because I think they're so amazing but didn't know what the heck I was doing. Now I'm just contemplating buying the software (as you'll see from my image below...)

Hope you don't mind me posting a photo- I just wanted to see what you thought-



This is actually only one exposure- I duplicated it and bracketed it in ACR. I'm excited to try it with a true set of exposures.

Thanks again for your help
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Mr_Canuck Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 February 2009 at 06:16
How far can you go with HDR in just Photoshop?
Snapped.
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Dave2006 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dave2006 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 March 2009 at 23:43
DboardC124......Its a good start, perhaps darkening some of the lighter areas would help, if you need help just ask.


Mr_Canuck.........I only use PS to create a radience file, Photomatix is the best way of processing it, even a single RAW file can be used in Photomatix to create a HDR image.





Edited by Dave2006 - 01 March 2009 at 23:47
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Post Options Post Options   Quote jcouvaras Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 March 2009 at 01:45
Thanks very much, looks very interesting, will have to have a play around with some pics now
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Swede66 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2009 at 08:50
Thanks Dave. Fantastic tutorial.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Saratoga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2009 at 12:33
DboardC124; I have created quite a few using just one RAW file.

Here are two of the more extreme examples





Both taken at a time when I wasn't sure what I wanted but took them and, as is the way, shoot all in RAW/MRW anyway

I no longer drive these vehicles for a living any more. I have a normal job now
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dave2006 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 March 2009 at 19:52
Saratoga, Greetings from sunny Leamington Spa!! well done, both excellent HDRs, I like that you have not got masses of noise and both skies look good
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