Get 5% off Loupedeck CT with code: Ephotozine5

Give Your Flagging Landscapes A Boost With A HDR Makeover

If that sunset turns into a damp squib or you the camera simply couldn't take in the range of tones on offer, put MacPhun's Intensify on the case to sort it out.

|  Other Software
 Add Comment

Everyone has been there, camera on tripod as the sun sets over a favoured vista and you think, yes, it’s a nailed-on winner. Only to find out later that it’s underexposed and far too dark, or that that amazing light at the time looks no better than entirely average after the camera has recorded the scene. This is where software comes into play because it is often possible to rescue a scene where all looked lost. Intensify from Macphun can help with this. 

As far as HDR images go, then obviously it would have been better to have taken a number of images, expanding the tonal range and putting together one image which captured those extremes. But when you fail to do that, the alternative is to shift the tones around the image to simulate what might have been. The problem is often that this increases noise and is easy to stray into the world of cartoon graphics. However, the more control the software offers, the further you can push the envelope.


Landscape before and after edit


Intensify Step-By-Step Tutorial: 


Open & Select Dark Image Fix

Load your lacklustre image into Intensify and scroll down to Image Tune in the Presets list. Select Dark Image Fix which will, specifically, fix images where the landscape element is underexposed. To keep the sky out of this process for now, you need to use the masking tools which work the opposite way round to what you’d think. By that it means that the effect will only be applied to areas with a mask. Click on the Show icon top left and you will see that an image automatically gets a mask to start with.



Use The Eraser 

Now click on the Eraser on the top right and use it to erase the red mask over the sky and the part of the sea that looks choppy. As you do this the processing effect will be removed. Now go to the Layers palette and click on the Plus sign to create a new layer. You can rename the layers by clicking on the name to bring up the text edit box.



Apply HDR Soft

Select the top layer, which for this has been called ‘sky’. Go to the Creative presets and select HDR Soft. If this is too strong compared to the ground, reduce the amount to about +85. Then select the Eraser tool and click on Show Mask. Use the Eraser to remove the mask for the ground area.



Highlights, Vibrance, Saturation 

Create a new layer by clicking on the Plus sign again. Click on the Adjust button and scroll down to the Basic Tune palette. Increase the Highlights to +35, the Vibrance to +15 and the Saturation to +30. The idea is to brighten the sky without losing highlights and add colour to the rest of the scene, in particular because the stones in the foreground have a lot of colour variety.



Use The Pro Contrast Palette

Go to the Pro Contrast palette and increase Highlights to +51. Check the sky to make sure it hasn’t got too bright. If so, increase the Offset, here it is now +76. Also, increase the Midtones Contrast to +51 to put a lot of impact into the middle tones. Assess the effectiveness of this layer by toggling the layer visibility on and off. Reduce the layer Opacity if required. Click on the Before/After icon to compare to the original.



Adjust Sharpness

The final elements is to add some sharpness to the landscape element. So create a new layer again and go to Micro Sharpness. Ignore the effect on the sky as this will be masked. Increase the Amount and Radius, perhaps right up to to +100. If this doesn’t create halos then reduce the Dehalo filter to 0 as this will make it sharper. Then use the mask eraser as before, to remove the effect from the sky. Then save and export the image.




Original Landscape



Editedl Landscape


Try For Free

If you want to have a go at the above tutorial, you can download a trial version of Intensify from the Macphun website for free. 

Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK, WEX

It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

Other articles you might find interesting...

Colour Grading Tool Added To Adobe Lightroom & Camera Raw
Stellar Releases New Edition Of Photo Recovery Software
Free Photography Webinars You Can Watch From Home From DxO
Save An Exclusive Extra 15% On PortraitPro 19 AI!
inPixio Photo Studio 10 Pro Review
Stellar Photo Recovery Software Review
Panasonic Release Software To Turn Selected LUMIX Cameras Into Webcams
Nik Collection 3 By DxO Review


klarue 5 United States
17 Jun 2015 10:54PM
Great little tutorial - I don't use masks a lot, but will explore them more now that I've read this.

Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.