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Bored with HDR!

redstag 12 100 15 United Kingdom
27 May 2009 10:24AM
I want to try other ways of processing my images, most of my shots are 3 exposure HDRs, but I can't help but feel that I may have turned my back on basic processing skills. Any techniques used that might help me get out of the HDR rut?


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Tandberg 15 1.2k 2 England
27 May 2009 10:29AM
yeah basic curves and that jon lol

DaveU 12 1.4k 125 England
27 May 2009 10:31AM
If you're using Photomatix then you could maybe explore the Exposure Blending options rather than Merge to HDR and Tone-Mapping. Or go and buy a set of ND grads and do it the "proper" way Wink
Tonyd3 Plus
13 1.1k 18 United Kingdom
27 May 2009 10:35AM
Hi Jon

have you tried "RAW FILE STACKING, it gives you a high quality image without the comic book look that can be seen in some HDR images. ( please note im not saying yours are but we do see a lot like it on epz) Smile

basically you start with a "Dark Raw file" 1 or 2 stops below then open the same RAW file again but at a different exposure or White balance.

Then add the 2nd file to the first in registastion by holding down the shift key as you pull the file across to the 1st frame.

Add a layer mask and paint out the areas you dont want from the top layer to reveal what is on the layer below. add as many layers as you like hence the name "RFS".

This is the basis of all my images but using just one raw file and may be up to five or six layers each with a different exposure or white balance to create my final image. as raw files have a great latitued you can balance the shadows and your highlights well.

redstag 12 100 15 United Kingdom
27 May 2009 10:46AM
ND Grads Dave, the proper way? Sounds interesting...

I will give the exposure blending tools a try though.

Dave- (Yorkshire Terrier this time) I have never really got to grips with curves, I'm a bit ham fisted with it and get results that are even less realistic than my HDR, that's one reason I went down the HDR route. Are there any good tutorials on curves that you've used?
Tony, I have done quite a bit of image stacking (not necessarily variants of RAW files) it is a really effective tool, so maybe I should try that a bit more. (I use the eraser rather than the mask tool, but I may try a mask layer now you suggest it.
BernieS 9 243 United Kingdom
27 May 2009 1:32PM
You might want to try the magazine shelves in W H Smith - most photo mags carry PS tutorials every month, and frequently have accompanying CDs with videos to take you through the process step by step.

Or you could check out the site "Photoshop for Photographers" here:

JohnParminter 11 1.3k 14 England
27 May 2009 3:20PM
I'm an advocate of the ND Grads route Jon, then basic levels tweaks in Elements 5. Takes me 5 minutes flat to process an image from RAW conversion to TIFF to Elements and Master file. My images are very un-processed these days. I used to tone map alot as well but find I don't need to now.
I use HDR only when its the last resort and the contrast differences are too tricky an other way.
I occasionally use the route Tony mentioned above but usually take two separately exposed images and manually blend together, it takes longer for me but sometimes the results are worth it.
ade_mcfade 14 15.2k 216 England
27 May 2009 3:24PM
I only do HDR where it's needed - architecture, where an ND grad would make the roof tops go black.

never been really happy with any HDR landscapes I've done, and to be honest, ND grads do the trick - I can cope with slightly dark hill tops, not as important as dark clock towers or lighthouses.

Anyway, ND grads are a doddle to use, processing is 1000 times faster to do than HDR - it's a no brainer for most landscapes.
digicammad 14 22.0k 39 United Kingdom
27 May 2009 3:49PM

Quote:never been really happy with any HDR landscapes I've done, and to be honest, ND grads do the trick

I was never able to cope with mountains - I get much better HDR results than I ever did with grads. I probably spend the equivalent amount of time, it just moved from setting up the grads to tweaking the result.
JohnParminter 11 1.3k 14 England
27 May 2009 4:55PM
Ian, I use Lee soft grads and often a 0.6 & 0.9 together on my mountain shots and don't seem to have any problems. It is really what you are comfortable with though, I personally can't get into the routine of taking 3 or 5 shots of a scene and later having to process them in Photomatix, windy conditions hamper the results I find as well, whereas it's far more natural for me to reduce the exposure difference with a slab or two of resin clagged onto my lens.....Smile
digicammad 14 22.0k 39 United Kingdom
27 May 2009 5:01PM
I agree I should be able to use the soft grads John, but never quite got the results I wanted. I don't suffer from wind too much (ahem) as I have got the multi-exposure routine down pretty well. If it is very windy I stick the camera in high speed burst mode and get the shots before the clouds move. Smile
Hugeknot 13 1.2k 2 Iceland
27 May 2009 5:03PM
Photosport1, can you explain this a little more?

Quote:add the 2nd file to the first in registastion by holding down the shift key

What software are you using and what does 'registastion' mean?
DaveU 12 1.4k 125 England
27 May 2009 7:07PM
Tony meant "registration" .... just ensuring that the stacked layers are all exactly superimposed.
KathyW 14 1.8k 12 Norfolk Island
28 May 2009 9:55AM
I just can't get the hang of this HDR thing, so just do what I do Jon, and never take a tripod with you Smile Of course, all your pics will then be crap, but hey, that will at least be something different from the quality stuff you usually turn out!
looboss 11 3.1k 7 United Kingdom
28 May 2009 10:34AM
HDR rut?
Jon, I think your shots are fantastic and if it aint broke why fix it? Smile

Whatever you decide i think you will do well, I feel it in my water Wink


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