HDR (HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE) IT’S NOT JUST FOR LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHYPosted: March 25, 2010
Today I would like to go over High Dynamic Range (HDR) using Photoshop. I decided to change the background for my Twitter account to match the colors of my website, blog, and stock/sales sites. Of course I wanted a macro photograph…and of course not your typical macro of various bugs. I wanted an artistic shot that would be abstract for my background. Yes, it’s a flower but I bet you couldn’t figure that out on your first glimpse.
As always, I will provide you the steps I used to achieve my end results. If you would like to view the Figure’s up close you can click on the picture and to get back to the blog use your back arrow key on your website browser bar. You can subscribe to this blog (look to your right) and print up this article later when you have more time to work on your HDR project.
So let’s get started:
As a macro photographer you should always use a tripod, at least try to use a tripod. Set up your shot… you can go to my basics here for more information.
Take various images using the same f-stop and ISO, only change your shutter speed so you have the dark parts in the picture exposed correctly, gradually ending with the light parts of the pic exposed correctly. It could take 3 to 6 images, maybe more, just focus on a range of photographs. I like to use the manual mode; it’s much easier to control your camera.
Once I have my shots, I rename my photographs using Adobe Bridge. I will post another article with more details about organizing your files, but for now as you can see, I renamed the files with my business name, the date the photographs were shot, the actual file # the camera gave it.
You can also add your metadata in the tools menu in Bridge. This is important for your copyright legalities. Again, I can write about this in more detail if you all want me to?
Now it’s time to group the photographs you would like to merge together. As you can see from Figure 3 the picture has a wide range of dark to light images. If I tried to expose for the dark areas I would clip the light areas of the image and vice versa. So the best route for this photo is HDR.
Again, I used Adobe Bridge to work on these photographs.
Once you click on the merge button you will see the example in Figure 5. On the left you can see the green checks to tell you that these will be the photographs that will be merged together for HDR. If you decide that one of the photographs will not be useful, uncheck it. The more photographs you have the larger the file will be. Did you notice that Photoshop is up and running as you work on your photograph?
I changed my method to Local Adaptation from the drop-down menu in the Conversion Dialog box…don’t freak out when you see the pic change to a lighter photo, you can fix it with your curves.
As you can see in Figure 8 I have adjusted my pic with the curves…
I changed the curve a bit more:
Clean up your photo viewing it at 100% or more. Check “all layers” on the top menu bar. If you have a complicated area to clean up, I recommend adding a second layer. The easiest way to do this is at the bottom-right of the toolbar, (see Figure 11 for more details). Trust me, it is so much easier to dump a layer than to start all over again.
Today I showed you how to use Bridge and Photoshop to merge your pictures in HDR. I showed you how to manually work on HDR in a previous post. As you can see from the example of Figure 12, it would be tedious to work on this photo manually.
This is my final image…It’s ok here but check it out on my Twitter account, that’s where it really looks cool!
- Take various shots of the image with correct exposures from dark to light areas
- Use the same f-stop and ISO – only change shutter speed
- Use RAW files for best coverage
- Use a tripod for alignment between each photograph
- Name your photographs
- Add metadata
- Open your photos in Bridge and select them-hold down your apple key & click your selection
- Merge together using HDR Photoshop function
- Set white point
- Change to an 8 bit file or 16
- Change to Local Adaption
- Adjust photo with curves
- Change color, curves, etc…if needed.
- Clean photo, viewing at least 100%
- Have fun!
If you have an image that has extreme contrast, use HDR, you will be happy with the results. This is like the darkroom back in the days of film where you would dodge and burn to get the best results. Hope this helps you and remember this isn’t just for landscapes, use it for any photo that needs adjustments.
Take care and good luck,