HDR tutorial

Started Nov 23, 2006 | Discussions
Daniella Forum Pro • Posts: 53,000
HDR tutorial

quite a few people asked me how I did my high dynamic range image for some of my Yosemite photos that had a very high contrast and high dynamic range scene.

I do not use the Photoshop HDR function or any other high dynamic range automatic blending program because they blend the photos overall and I don't like that. I prefer to use layer and layer mask in Photoshop to reveal what I want of one image and hide what I don't. this act a bit like a graduated neutral density but really let you fine tune the effect.

Keep in mind that his is quite a bit more work then just letting the program do the work for you, but the results are better I think.

here is my workflow for doing this. First you must take 2 exposure of the same scene, preferably on tripod to be sure it is exactly the same framing. It is best to really do a drastic braketing, one for the lightest part of the scene and one for the darkest part.

here is the result side by side..first the 2 original images and the last is the blended one:

and here is my workflow step by step how to do that:

first I open both images in PS, then I take one of the image and use SELECT ALL, and COPY. After that I go to the other image and use PASTE. Photoshop paste the image first image into the second one and put it on a new layer on top.

The next step is to create a layer mask.. To create a mask, simply click on the "ADD VECTOR MASK" icon at the bottom of the layer palette. then a white mask will appear right beside your top layer image on the layer palette. The color swatch on the tool palette will switch to black and white. With the black color you will render things transparent while the white will render it opaque.

To make things go faster, I first use a gradient from the black and white to quickly set the transparency, which I will refine with the brush tool later. That way I have a fast quick setup. As you can see on the layer mask now, the top of the maks is now white and the bottom black. That means that the bottom is now transparent, revealing the image on the bottom layer.

To refine this and create a better mask that will follow precisely the shadow part and highlight part of my scene, I use the brush tool to paint the layer mask in black or white depending if I want a certain area transparent or opaque.

Now you see the final layer mask painted with the black to reveal the underlaying image. this let me control exactly what I want reveal and what I want hidden.

and here is a zoom on that layer mask, where you can see what is totaly black is transparent and what is dark gray is semi transparent, what is white is opaque:

and here is the final image:

if you have any question, just ask.

-

http://www.pbase.com/zylen

CityLights Forum Pro • Posts: 12,556
Nice tutorial, another tip - threshold

That is a nice tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to help people out.

I use exposure blending quite a bit to get the most out of high contrast scenes. (But you certainly do it better!)

What takes some artistic tallent is knowing where to blend the edges to make them look natural.

One trick I like for making the mask is using the threshold tool to seperate the light and dark part of the scene.

Just duplicate the background layer, run threshold on the duplicate adjusting the slider until the dark parts are black and the light parts are white. Then run a gaussian blur to soften the edges. Cut this layer out and paste it into your mask.

Here's a screen shot of one I made just to show, in this shot I wanted to multiply up the sky, but you could certainly just insert a darker exposure of the same scene for the sky:

For the example, I over did it with multiply, but here is the final product of the real picture. The original sky was over exposed, (NOT BLOWN OUT) but a pale representation of what it should have been. I used the technique described to isolate the sky/bright parts of the picture and multiply them up:

Cheers!

osddave Junior Member • Posts: 28
Appreciate it

Good tutorials are always great to have, especially for those of us just getting into the SLR photography world.
--
cameras: Rebel XTi, f30, c3040, C2100UZ(Uzi!)

4u2c Senior Member • Posts: 1,038
Re: HDR tutorial

Hi Daniella,

Thank you for your time for doing this. It's very educational.

BTW, Happy Thanksgiving!

Rodrigo

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Bierto Regular Member • Posts: 297
great and thanks!

awesome!

PippysDI Regular Member • Posts: 155
Re: HDR tutorial

Thanks for this very well explained tutorial. My question is when using a tripod how did you get two different exposures for the lightest and darkest areas? Did you use the camera metering and change the focus points or just manually adjust them? Forgive me if this sounds simple but I am new to manual shooting. I was P&S all auto for a long time.

Quest21 Senior Member • Posts: 1,873
Re: HDR tutorial

Nice tutorial Daniella...
--
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Blue II
Blue II Veteran Member • Posts: 3,875
Thanks, Daniella!

Great information, thanks for sharing. Have a Great Thanksgiving!

-- hide signature --

Steve
Digital Rebel
50 f/1.8 Prime
18-55 Kit Lens
70-300 IS Lens
24-135 Tamron Lens
Sigma EF-500 DG ST Flash

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Blue II
Blue II Veteran Member • Posts: 3,875
Re: HDR tutorial

Not sure how Daniella does it, but I assume you could use Av priority, meter the sky, write down the shutter speed, then meter the darker area, write down the shutter speed again. Now set on tripod, compose, then set your aperture and first shutter speed and take the exposure, then set your second shutter speed and take that exposure. You are then ready to do your PP.

-- hide signature --

Steve
Digital Rebel
50 f/1.8 Prime
18-55 Kit Lens
70-300 IS Lens
24-135 Tamron Lens
Sigma EF-500 DG ST Flash

 Blue II's gear list:Blue II's gear list
Canon EOS-1D X Mark II Canon EOS RP
PippysDI Regular Member • Posts: 155
Re: HDR tutorial

Thanks, I hadn't thought of that. As I mentioned, for along time I just pointed and shot even when I used a film camera it was full auto. Though I was able to compose the shots pretty good often they didn't turn out very well.

OP Daniella Forum Pro • Posts: 53,000
cool, thanks for the tip

that is a much easier and faster way to create the layer mask I think.. I will give it a try. I never used the threshole tool, where is it?

CityLights wrote:

That is a nice tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to help people
out.

I use exposure blending quite a bit to get the most out of high
contrast scenes. (But you certainly do it better!)

What takes some artistic tallent is knowing where to blend the
edges to make them look natural.

One trick I like for making the mask is using the threshold tool to
seperate the light and dark part of the scene.

Just duplicate the background layer, run threshold on the duplicate
adjusting the slider until the dark parts are black and the light
parts are white. Then run a gaussian blur to soften the edges.
Cut this layer out and paste it into your mask.

Here's a screen shot of one I made just to show, in this shot I
wanted to multiply up the sky, but you could certainly just insert
a darker exposure of the same scene for the sky:

For the example, I over did it with multiply, but here is the final
product of the real picture. The original sky was over exposed,
(NOT BLOWN OUT) but a pale representation of what it should have
been. I used the technique described to isolate the sky/bright
parts of the picture and multiply them up:

Cheers!

-- hide signature --
Rudiman Veteran Member • Posts: 8,805
Re: HDR tutorial

Some people here expect this right out of the camera......i have to laugh at them LOL. To be a great photographer you also need to know the fine art of post processing, which you do lovely. Great work my friend!!! Glad to have you back here.
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OP Daniella Forum Pro • Posts: 53,000
Re: HDR tutorial

PippysDI wrote:

Thanks for this very well explained tutorial. My question is when
using a tripod how did you get two different exposures for the
lightest and darkest areas?

one way is to braket with the largest range of value..the other is to use manual exposure. I was lazy so I used the braketing but with the widest value of it.

if you braket with maximum difference in value, you are pretty much bound to get at 2 that will match. it takes 3 pics..one more or less in the middle which I usualy discard..and 2 that are at the end of the scale on each side..one dark and one light.

if that does not work, then manual.

of course moving the tripod in between the shots is out of the question because you will lose your framing. framing must be perfect.

Did you use the camera metering and

change the focus points or just manually adjust them? Forgive me if
this sounds simple but I am new to manual shooting. I was P&S all
auto for a long time.

-- hide signature --
OP Daniella Forum Pro • Posts: 53,000
another good way of doing it. nt.

Blue II wrote:

Not sure how Daniella does it, but I assume you could use Av
priority, meter the sky, write down the shutter speed, then meter
the darker area, write down the shutter speed again. Now set on
tripod, compose, then set your aperture and first shutter speed and
take the exposure, then set your second shutter speed and take that
exposure. You are then ready to do your PP.

-- hide signature --
OP Daniella Forum Pro • Posts: 53,000
Re: HDR tutorial

Rudiman wrote:

Some people here expect this right out of the camera......i have to
laugh at them LOL. To be a great photographer you also need to know
the fine art of post processing, which you do lovely. Great work my
friend!!! Glad to have you back here.

thanks. it is really impossible to get all the DR in many landscapes scenes. the thing is, I often like very contrasty light but it looks bad in photo..with this technique and braketing..it is possible to make it look like we see it with our eyes.. until digital cameras manage to get the same level of DR capture than the human eye..I will keep doing this.

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***********************************************************
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My Pharts: http://www.pbase.com/rudiman/pharts
Favorites: http://www.pbase.com/rudiman/my_favorites
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Everything in my galleries, God Made. Its just my job to show them.
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-- hide signature --
OP Daniella Forum Pro • Posts: 53,000
Re: Nice tutorial, another tip - threshold

BTW, how do you paste that into the layer mask with CS2? it only paste it into another layer instead..even if I use paste into?

I used to be able to do that with previous version of PS but Adobe has the nasty habbit of changing things so nothing works the same.

and in threshole I don't see any slider..only a value field.

-- hide signature --
Rudiman Veteran Member • Posts: 8,805
Re: HDR tutorial

Daniella wrote:

.. until digital cameras manage to get the same level of DR capture than > the human eye..I will keep doing this.

Thats all we can do. I never carry a tripod with me on hikes so i shy away from stuff like this but i have tried it and it works well. I usually find a happy medium and shoot RAW and go from there. I'll take the same RAW file and duplicate it, rename it, and expose them differently then layer mask them together. Gets me in the ballpark anyways.
--
***********************************************************
Rudi - Phounder Of The Phart ... CATS member #100 > ^..^
My Homepage: http://www.pbase.com/rudiman
My Pharts: http://www.pbase.com/rudiman/pharts
Favorites: http://www.pbase.com/rudiman/my_favorites
Alaskan Cruise 2004: http://www.pbase.com/rudiman/alaska
Everything in my galleries, God Made. Its just my job to show them.
***********************************************************

PippysDI Regular Member • Posts: 155
Thanks..

Daniella

G. Gray
G. Gray Veteran Member • Posts: 4,535
Wow, thats more like it.

Thankyou for elaborate tutorial. Everyone will appreciate the info and the time spent on putting it together.

Some people have tried to duplicate some of the photos shown on this forum and not realized that you have to bracket shots and marry them together.
I think you should start a series. Welcome back (to Canada)
Gerry

CityLights Forum Pro • Posts: 12,556
Re: Nice tutorial, another tip - threshold

BTW, how do you paste that into the layer mask with CS2? it only
paste it into another layer instead..even if I use paste into?

I am not sure about CS2, but in elements if you want to see and edit the mask, hold ALT and click on the mask layer in the layer pallette. The screen will switch to viewing the layer mask. You can edit it there, or paste the copied layer version there.

Another thing, if the black and white parts from the threshold are reversed for the mask, just run the invert filter.

I used to be able to do that with previous version of PS but Adobe
has the nasty habbit of changing things so nothing works the same.
and in threshole I don't see any slider..only a value field.

This is what I get in Photoshop Elements 5 for threshold, I think PSE3 was the same. PSCS should have the same, but I don't know. The white triange below the line on the histogram is the slider.

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