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HDR, how to work the software. Part 3.

12/24-2009 at 05:35

Jens Stolt Jens Stolt writes::  There are several ways to produce HDRs out of your frames. State of the art cameras (the new Nikons) can even do some HDR in camera.

The most obvious is to use the erase tool in layers in photoshop. Fx you can select and erase the sky in one layer and such combine the sky from a dark exposure with the ground of a lighter exposure underneath or also erase details into a dark treetrunk via a semitransparent layer.

However there is dedicated HDR software on the market that provides you with both an ability to produce HDR files and tonemap them.
New photoshop versions can do that but Photomatix is the best available software at the present time in my opinion. (www.hdrsoft.com)
Author: Jens Stolt

The HDR software provides you with a HDR file that can be saved and worked with in different programs.
The HDR file can be compared to a stack of exposures where every pixel in the frame contains information about the underlying exposures. Tonemapping software can handle this information and produce a picture as you want it.
Usually photographers want to get better light in the image but also colours and contrasts can be enhanced via tonemapping.
Generally HDR pictures are recognised by their clarity, their contrasts and their extra vivid colours.
The photographers taste and temperament plays a big role here.



Below is such a raw HDR file. It looks strange and dark but the information is stored underneath and can be viewed in the "HDR viewer" tool that follows the pointing tool.

Author: Jens Stolt


The HDR viewer is pointing at the concrete foundation of the bridge and shows us that behind the complete black there is "lighter" information that can later be tonemapped.


Tonemapping
Photomatix provides you with a lot of tools in the tonemapping section. That can be confusing and can easily lead to degradation of the file, especially by burning out colours in highlights ( worst is green) and by adding noise or multiplying weak noise into severe noise.
Its is not so easy to find the right settings for the different sliders as they interact and especially contrast is affected. There are no general settings and rules that apply for all images and every image must be tonemapped individually. Some framesets are impossible to tonemap decently and have to be abandoned.

Below is an example of tonemapping of the 7 exposures from the Storstroemsbridge. I have made it relatively light so that you can see how light and dark can be manipulated.

Author: Jens Stolt


After the tonemapping you can finish the image after your personal taste in your favourite postprocessing program. I use Photoshop Elements.

The version below has been tweaked to the blue side, just to show you, and had a bit of contrast added.

Author: Jens Stolt


And below again the version that goes online to be sold in a 10 mpix version.
Sensorspots have been removed, colours generally enhanced, burnouts fixed etc.:


Author: Jens Stolt


Kommentarer og spørgsmål er velkomne.



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