I will now give you a quick tutorial on the process of HDR as I know it…
First you need a digital camera. Most any new camera should have the capability to provide you with the settings to create the exposures needed for HDR. The second thing you will need to accomplish the ultimate HDR, is a tripod. This could take some getting used too (I know it did for me anyway). It was just odd walking around with it over my shoulder, or in my hand and feeling like everyone was wondering what I was doing. It took some getting used to, but it seems natural now.
The feature you will need on your camera is called Auto Bracketing(AEB). This allows you to capture a shot in three different exposures, one under exposed, one regular and one over exposed shot (-2, 0, +2). This allows you to create an HDR in Photomatix Pro (I will explain later). Once you have your camera set to the proper settings, mounted firmly on the tripod that you are still not used to carrying around. You are ready to shoot your first HDR! This is when the creative fun begins. Choosing the perfect landscape shot, or maybe that urban setting that you just know will make a gorgeous HDR. Read More…
SOFTWARE USED FOR HDR PROCESSING:
- Photomatix Pro (required) – Grab it from the Photomatix Website (there is a free trial version, it leaves a watermark though). If you would like to purchase Photomatix Pro visit the link provided and enter this “HIGHDYNAMICRANGEPHOTOS” code to save 15%
Have you ever photographed a high contrast scene? If so, you know that even the best exposure gives you blown out highlights, or flat shadows, or both. The solution is High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing:
- Take multiple photographs at varying exposure levels
- Merge the photos into an HDR image
- Adjust the settings to get the look you want: from natural-looking with Exposure Fusion to painterly or surreal with Tone Mapping
- Photoshop (recommended) – You can buy Photoshop right from the Adobe website, and begin the download. Now, follow the tutorial to the final steps, you will see that I suggest using Photoshop to “clean up” problems from Photomatix Pro. It’s not absolutely necessary, but I do recommend it.
- Noiseware Professional (optional) – I have tried a multitude of “noise reduction” software packages. You’ll notice that the HDR process can create a bit of noise, to say the least.
I have a few updates to share. Just upgraded my equipment this past weekend, picked up a Canon 7D with the 28-135. LOVE IT! so far and can’t wait to get out and actully get a full day of shooting in. I am keeping my Canon XT as a back-up.
Updated List of Equipment
- Canon 7D
- F-Stop – Tilopa BC Large, Foliage Green w/Large Pro ICU
- Really Right Stuff TVC-34L Tripod
- Really Right Stuff BH-55 LR Ballhead
- Really Right Stuff B7D-L: L-plate
- 10-22mm Canon Lens (This is my most used Lense)
- 18-55mm Canon Lens
- 55-250mm Canon Lens
- 28-135mm Canon Lens
- 70-300mm Canon Lens
- Lens Hoods
- Remote Cable Release
- Canon Rebel XT
The next step in the process will be in Photomatix Pro. This is a great program, that is very user friendly. Open Photomatix Pro, click on load bracketed photos. This will bring up a search box that will allow you to select the three to five images you would like to use. Once you have selected the images, Photomatix Pro will work it’s magic to create an HDR. Once that is complete, your new HDR will appear on the screen, this will be all the images merged into one. Now you want to process them, more fun! this is where you get to make the shot your own. This is called tone mapping, you will see on left hand side of the screen multiple sliders. Some of these you don’t want to change, others you will want to play with. After awhile you will get a feel for what sliders you want to use and which ones you will not need to change a whole lot. After you have created the look you are going for, you will want to process the image and “Save”. At this point you can choose to double tone map the image if you like. You will see on the previous page the original exposures and the final product from Photomatix Pro. Read More…
Now we will talk about Adobe Photoshop. This is where we will put the final touches on the image. You will notice when processing the image in Photomatix Pro you may have ended up with some undesired aspects. Such as parts of the image being “grainy”. You can do great things with Photoshop, as long as you have the patience to learn as you go. I learn new things every time I use Photoshop (usually by accident).
Okay, now for Photoshop (forgive me on this portion of the tutorial, I am still learning myself). You will need to open Adobe Photoshop andAdobeBridge, you can open Bridge through Photoshop. Once you are in Bridge, you will want to select the image you have processed in Photomatix Pro along with the original exposures (3-5 depending on you’re camera). I will create a folder for each HDR I am working on. The folder will contain the HDR image and the three original images. This makes the next step a little less painful. Select “tools”, “photoshop” and then “Load files to Photoshop layers…”, this will import the images into Photoshop. Read More…
Now we begin the process in Photoshop. You will see all the images you have imported on the right side of the screen. You will want to have the Tone Mapped image on top, and the three exposures below. The darkest exposure will be the first in line. You can now remix the layers of the original photos to get the best elements out of them. Now, select the tone mapped layer, and choose Layer, Layer Mask and Reveal all. You will now need to select the brush tool, and set the Opacity to 50% (you will learn over time that you can change the percentage to get different affects). At this point, what you are doing is painting through the first layer to expose the layer behind it. By making multiple strokes you will reveal more of the layer. You will now want to merge the two layers, you can do this by selecting both layers and then “Merge Layers”. You will have to play around with this until it looks just right to you. Repeat these steps as needed. Read More…
So there you have it, my take on HDR Photography. I hope you have enjoyed and maybe even learned a few things from me today. Well, I’m off to spend countless hours in the wonderful and always exhilarating world of HDR.
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