Can't edit or properly save HDR image from photoshop. Is there a better way to work this image?

Started Oct 13, 2013 | Discussions
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carl1864 Forum Member • Posts: 76
Can't edit or properly save HDR image from photoshop. Is there a better way to work this image?

I spend a good amount of time trying to google this seemingly simple issue with no luck.

I took a raw image, processed it at normal, under, and over exposure, and then used photoshop's  automated HDR function to create an HDR image.  Problem is I cannot perform 90% of the editing functions anymore on it, it says they don't work on a 32 bit image.  I tried converting the image to 16 bit, but the color gets completely screwed up.  I don't understand why, 16 bit color is so broad I would think any difference would be almost distinguishable to the human eye, but no, for some reason the colors completely change.  I also cannot even save the image as png or jpeg either.  How can I simply edit/save this image like normal?

Also, the whole reason I'm doing this, is I have an image with a difficult exposure, both bright and dark parts.  All the detail is there in the raw file in both the bright parts and dark parts, however if i brighten up the darker parts to see all the detail, the sky turns white and lots of places in the image are blown out.  If I darken things up a bit so that the sky is beautiful blue, and sunny patches are not overexposed, then the rest is way too dark.  I just want to find a way to blend or combine the image so its all well exposed.  Not trying to make the image all surreal, simply want the darker spots well exposed, sky still blue, and brighter patches not blown out, but still look like a regular photo.  Is there a better way to do this?  Perhaps manually doing HDR, or some sort of layer blending?

I sort of experimented with layering a darker exposure underneath a lighter one, setting the eraser to 10%, and selectively thinning out the bright parts, so the dark parts can show through, and blend in although it doesn't seem like the best method out there.

FrankieJ Senior Member • Posts: 1,537
Re: Can't edit or properly save HDR image from photoshop. Is there a better way to work this image?

Photoshop is the worst when it comes to HDR. I don't know why it is so bad, but I prefer to use a third party software for this function. A lot of people prefer the same software that I'm going to suggest to use, Photomatix.

robert1955 Senior Member • Posts: 2,499
Re: Can't edit or properly save HDR image from photoshop. Is there a better way to work this image?

If you have LR (4.2 or later) you can import the 32 bit TIF and edit in the usual way. You could then export a 16 bit TIF fo further editing in PS.

But I think you don't need to go the [pseudo) HDR route for the image you describe. You could try this [which combines two versions]:

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Thomas Niemann Veteran Member • Posts: 4,335
A few suggestions

First, the difference between an 8-bit TIFF and a 16-bit TIFF is granularity. That is, you have the same dynamic range, just more steps between pure white and pure black. But 32-bit TIFF files are different in that they have a much wider dynamic range.

When you do an HDR merge in Photoshop be sure to do a 32-bit merge. This will give you a 32-bit image that you can process further.

If you have CS6 and ACR 7.1 or later, or Photoshop CC, then you can process it in ACR after the merge. For CS6, save your image as a 32-bit TIFF file. In Bridge right-click and open it in ACR for further processing. For Photoshop CC you can specify, as part of the HDR merge, to do further toning in ACR. In this case it will invoke ACR as a filter directly within Photoshop and there's no need to create a 32-bit TIFF.

Either way, you have all the controls for controlling image quality on the 32-bit image within ACR before converting it to 8 or 16 bits.

Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Veteran Member • Posts: 9,159
Re: Can't edit or properly save HDR image from photoshop. Is there a better way to work this image?

Try the following.

Open the RAW file in Adobe Camera Raw and adjust the image for the sky before opening it Photoshop as a Smart Object.  If the first of the three buttons in the lower right part of the ACR window doesn't shoe Open Object then hold down the shift key and the Open Image button will temporarily change to Open Object so you can click on it.

Now you should have the file open in Photoshop and the thumbnail in the Layers panel should show a box at the lower right hand corner.  Right click on the gray area to the right of the name of the thumbnail and chose New Smart Object via Copy.  This will make a new copy of the Smart Object that you can edit separately to the original.  Double click on the thumbnail of this new layer to open the copy in ACR.

Adjust the copy in ACR to get the foreground properly exposed then click the OK button to reopen this copy in Photoshop.  You should now have two layers, the bottom layer adjusted for the sky with a dark foreground, the top layer adjusted for the foreground with a blown out sky.

Double click on the gray area to the side of the name of the top thumbnail to open up the Layers Style panel.  At the bottom are the two Blend If: sliders.  Click on the split arrow head at the right of the upper Blend If slider and drag it slowly to the left.  You will see the blown out sky slowly disappear and be replaced by the sky from the layer below it.  Once you get close to the image you want hold down the Alt (Option) key and click on either half of the split arrowhead and drag it away from the stationary half.  You can now adjust the two halves to give a fuzzy blending to make the transition between visible and no-visible smoother.

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