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This is my first posting so please go easy on me - I am also new to digital - well 6 months so I am still finding my way. I am just trying to get my head round the black art of HDR (which seems a bit like old fashioned transparency overlays?) and I think I understand the principle. But why do so many HDR images look at best super-real and at worst plastic (like Thuderbirds!)?
What software would I need to get to create HDR images (my PSP doesn't have this facility I am sure).
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Quote: why do so many HDR images look at best super-real and at worst plastic (like Thuderbirds!)?
I think the answer is in your question.
When a shot has been put through the HDR process, it isn't always finished. Even after being tone-mapped.
You'll still need to tweak it in the normal way, such as a curves layer to get the final product.
It's all about trial and error, finding what works for you. I tend to find that the tone-mapped image is a little flat, although the detail is there in highlights and shadows. using a basic curves layer boosts the contrast again, but doesn't damage the HDR work.
There are a few people on here who are true masters of HDR, it could be worthwhile looking through the galleries and sending them a message for advice.
Photomatix from HDRsoft is one of the better pieces of software for processing files. i do a lot of HDR work and you will find that you can tweak the images to suit your needs ... there are a lot of shots in my portfolio that look 'straight' but which are HDR and there are others which clearlyuse the process.
The adjustments you make at the tone mapping stage will make a huge difference to the finished output and 'realism' of the shot. Sometimes I may use HDR for certain parts of the shot and then blend layers with a straight version to get the finished look. I usually do some form of editing in Photoshop post the HDR process ... sometimes this is minor and may only be a slight curves or some dodging and burning to give contrast.
Othertimes this may be a mroe involved process building up layers and adjusting blending modes until I achieve the finished look.
Thank you guys for your replies - the bits I understood were very helpful - clearly it is a case of what works best for you. You all have superb pf's and I can't tell which are HDR processed/enhanced and I guess that is the acid test?
Just to say that I agree with Dan that Photomatix from HDRSoft is a pretty good and reasonably inexpensive tool for creating and tone-mapping HDR images.
Tone-mapping is to some extent a black art and experimentation is key. There are many controls on the tone-mapping dialog, and setting a number of them too aggressively can easily result in cartoon-like output and/or obvious halo artifacts.
As Dan says too, you're not restricted to a single tone-mapped image. You can create several with different degrees of tone-mapping and then merge/blend them with or without the original image in Photoshop or equivalent.
So it's a black art but good fun with it
Aonther vote for Photomatix, its very simple software to use and the only way to images you like is to play with the setting's and find what works best for you. You can download the full version for free and play to your hearts content, just the finished images are watermarked.
Quote: As Dan says too, you're not restricted to a single tone-mapped image. You can create several with different degrees of tone-mapping and then merge/blend them with or without the original image in Photoshop or equivalent.
when I first experimented doing this I made the mistake of uploading the image to the gallery, instead of tips and help from the experts I got slagged of saying the image had no soul!
So My advice is don't be to hasty to upload your first attempts unless you upload to the critique section, some people don't understand that one has to begin somewhere.
Photomatix and have fun with it...
Once you get the hang of it, you wont look back.
Quote: What software would I need to get to create HDR images (my PSP doesn't have this facility I am sure).
PSPx X2 has it, though I don'tknow how good it is..
not having used HD yet, but having seen a lot of woeful and a lot of excellent examples, I think it's not much differertent than any other tool like saturation, levels, curves - the trick is in using them subtly. And merging/blending layers to apply it more selectively would seem to be the right way to go...again like most tools
Quote: when I first experimented doing this I made the mistake of uploading the image to the gallery, instead of tips and help from the experts I got slagged of saying the image had no soul!
Did you ask for tips, mention the fact you were new etc. Luis?
I'd be surprised if people would slag you off had you written appropriate text in the About box.
Quote: So My advice is don't be to hasty to upload your first attempts unless you upload to the critique section,
it's the obvious place to put it if you're new.
I seem to produce a pretty flat, colourful Tonemapped image from the HDR, then with one of the the original shots, curves, hue/sat and levels layers, create the final image.
I use an awful lot of localised processing - sharening only bits that need sharprning,adding contrast to things like windows so the frames stand out against the inside etc.
All depends on what you want - I've never managed any decent landscapces doing it,but many people do.
Blatant plug perhaps, but just uploaded my first attempt with Photomatix, and yes it looks over processed, but it was the result I was going for.
If I wanted a shot with lots of natural looking detail I would tray as much as possible to balance the exposure out using grads etc at the point of capture. Or at least that is what I have tried to do up to now.
Software seems good though and at $100 for the pro version - reasonably good value at the current exchange rate.
The biggest problem I've found with Photomatix and landscapes is that it's very difficult at the tone-mapping stage to control the sky. Too easy to get white clouds turning grey, halo artifacts around branches etc. That's where blending in a correctly exposed sky from the pre-HDR exposures on top of the tone mapped image comes in useful.
BTW have you seen that Photomatix 3 has just been released?
the sun's always screwing up too
big skys are a pain in photomatix - so yeah, use and abuse ont of the original ones, probably the 2-stop underexposed one. use a grad on a mask to begin with then a low-opacity brush to meddle around with the edges of the mask.
must download V3 - is it any quicker ?
an sexy new controls?
Actually - if they just got the preview and the final tonemapped image to resemble each other I'd be happy!
Dunno Ade, I've not downloaded it yet. Wanna be a guinea-pig ??
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