Welcome to the 4 Colour Progress HDR tutorial! This is a simplified version of the tutorial that's found on my website http://www.4colourprogress.com/hdr-tutorialSECTION 1 : WHAT IS HDR?
HDR is short for High Dynamic Range. It allows the photographer to capture a greater range of light levels between the lightest and darkest areas of an image then combining them to produce an image that shows a wider dynamic range, this allows HDR images to more accurately represent the wide range of levels found in real scenes. HDR is the marmite of the photography world, people seem to either love it or hate it and even though I hate Marmite, I sure do love HDR!
Some examples below SECTION 2 : CHECKLIST
Okay, so before we begin let’s make sure you have everything you need to create HDR’s (bold items are required)A Digital SLR capable of using Exposure BracketingA Sturdy Tripod (unless you have the steady hands of a bomb disposal expert)
A Remote (optional, but I find even pressing down on the shutter can cause movement)Photomatix Pro
Have all that? Okay lets move on.SECTION 3 : YOUR IMAGES
I won’t tell you how to take your photo’s. Photography is an art form, beauty is in the eye of the beholder blah blah blah… However I will talk to you about the importance of making sure that your camera is as stable as possible when taking your photo’s. In the checklist section I mentioned that you will need a sturdy tripod, the reason for this is that your going to be taking three images or more in quick succession so any movement the camera or subject undertakes while shooting will cause the HDR to “Ghost” when it’s compiled.
Most DSLR's can exposure bracket, if you aren't sure refer to your cameras user guide.
Depending on your camera you may be able to bracket more frames than others, for example my Nikon D90 can only bracket 3 images at a time where as most professional level DSLR's can take 5 or more. As my camera can only take 3 shot's I set the exposure to bracket at 2 stops for each image so it goes -2,0,+2.If you're camera can't exposure bracket or you can't take multiple exposures at the moment you can download the shots I used for this tutorial here. http://www.4colourprogress.com/DPfiles.zipPlease remember that these shots are covered under a CC share and share a like non commercial license.You can use them as you wish but please remember to give credit to me!
As mentioned by Chris Humphreys
you can manually create your mutilple exposures by changing the shutter speed after each shot, I'm assuming you take a photo using your desired settings then increase the shutter speed for one and then reduce the shutter speed for the other.
You can also create HDR images from single RAW files using Photoshops RAW editor.
Below you can see my 3 exposures ranging from 0 (correctly exposed) +2 (over exposed) and -2 (under exposed)SECTION 4 : PHOTOMATIX
Now that you have your images it's time to open up Photomatix! Once it's opened follow these instructionsStep 1
) Drag your images (or use browse to locate your 3 files) into the workspace area and click generate HDRStep 2
) Once your image has opened click on the 'tone mapping' buttonStep 3
) Play around with the sliders until you find something you're happy with (make sure you reset the sliders for every new image as what may have worked for a previous image might not work for you're next one). Below is a brief out line of what each setting controls.
Strength – Always have this set to 100, this option determines how strong the tone mapping will be.
Colour Saturation – This determines how saturated the colour of the image will be. I usually have this set to 45
Luminosity – luminosity is used to control the contrast of the shot, if you find your images plagued by a halo try moving the bar far right to reduce it.
Micro Contrast – Moving the micro contrast bar to +10 will deepen the shadows in the image giving it a much more dramatic feel
Smoothing – This bar is used to control the tone mapping process by applying it to different areas of the shot, if you move it from -10 to +10 you will see image change, sometimes in quite dramatic ways, as a rule of thumb I tend to set my smoothing bar between 3 and 7, of course no two images are the same and should start from scratch each time you load new images in Photomatix
Light Mode - This should be avoided at all costs use Smoothing instead.
Micro Smoothing - This option is very handy if you don't have any specialist noise software as HDR's produce a lot of noise.
Here is the image under the default Photomatix settings.
Here is the same image again with our custom settings.
When you are happy with your results save the image and then open up Photoshop.SECTION 5 : PHOTOSHOP
Photoshop is where we add our finishing touches to the image. There are a couple of good plug-ins that I use for creating my HDR's, which were mentioned in the list at the beginning. Topaz Adjust is very good for adding some extra punch to the shots and Noiseware Professional, which is a god send at helping control the noise that the HDR's produce.Step 1
) Open the tone mapped image along with all of the original exposures and then drag the correctly exposed image on top of the under exposed image. After you have done this drag the over exposed image on top of the under exposed image, then finally the tone mapped version on top so you end up with all the images in one file from lightest to darkest as shown below.Step 2
) You may find that there are areas in your image that may come out too strong or too noisy, or maybe you don't even want them there at all. Using layer masks can help you recover parts of the original image while still being a wonderful HDR. In my image I want to bring back the original trees, as the trees in the tone mapped version are over exposed. To do this click on the 'Add Vector Mask' button and select your brush tool, make sure you set the opacity to 30% and use a brush with a soft edge. Start to paint over the tree's in the middle of the image with a large brush, you should start to see the parts from the layer below surface and the trees will get darker (if not make sure you have selected the layer mask). Try to paint the entire area without letting go of the mouse, because if you do and you accidentally paint over the same area twice you end up with an uneven finish.Step 3
) Merge down to the layer below by pressing Ctrl+E or by going to Layer > Merge Down. After that repeat the entire process until you get to the bottom layer, you should find that the tree's and water both look more natural now.Step 4
) If you have Noiseware Professional now is the time to use it, I normally select one of the default options as it has a powerful set of options for most situations.Step 5
Now that we have taken care of some of that noise we can start using the healing brush tool to get rid of any blemishes or objects we don't want. The healing brush should be used on minor things such as getting rid of objects you don't want appearing in the shot (in this case I'm going to get rid of the pylons, street lamps and plane trails)
If you find that the healing brush isn't work very well try selecting a different sized brush it can make a world of difference!THE ORIGINALTHE HDRTIPS & TRICKSMultiple Tone Mapped Images
- It's a good idea to create multiple tone mapped versions of the same image using different settings. That way you can look at them together and decide which one works best for you, I've had times where the trees looked amazing in one picture but the sky looked amazing in an another. By using multiple tone mapped images you can have the best of both by using Layer Masks to combine them into one image.RAW or JPEG?
I know a lot of photographers who only use RAW when they create HDR's and they swear that the results are better. I tend to use JPEGS but out of habbit more than necessity the only time I use RAW is when there is movement in my frame. As mentioned by Red Eyes
RAWs contain a lot more information than JPEGS and don't suffer from compression. I'm going to start using RAW for both multiple and single shot HDRs and suggest you do the same! The end results won't be massively different between JPEG and RAW (as in the end the RAW will be compressed into a JPEG anyway) however as Dave says, you have a lot more control in the initial processing stages.
So that's all there is to it! If you have any questions or think I have missed anything please comment below! (P.S I'm sure there are lots of grammar and spelling mistakes so sorry about that lol)