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Pembroke Castle HDR

By chrisheathcote  
I have been wanting to try my hand at HDR for a while and having just upgraded to Photoshop CS6, I thought I'd give it a go. Unfortunately I only had one picture to work off, so I made copies in LR and changing the exposure to 1 stop intervals (I know this you should use the camera to bracket and this is what I would normally do, however I am just practicing technique with this one) I know it falls into to the obvious HDR category, but unusually for me, there's something I quite like. What I have tried to do is add impact to the sky using a graduated filter, which has added an opacity to it as well, which I think brings lifts the castle almost off the paper, or that was what I was trying for. I have also added USM and noise reduction (I know there is still a lot there, but I'm putting this down to stretching a RAW image down to -4 EC in PP). I have also included the picture I started with so that you can see what I started with. I know there are a lot of flaws in technique with the original shot, next on my shopping list is a set of HiTec ND Grads. However it is the PP I am after help with.

I am thick skinned so feel free to be brutal. However if all you want to say "Just bin it" please explain further.

Many thanks in advance

Tags: Wales Hdr Digitally manipulated Enhanced Landscape and travel Pembroke castle



Brindamour 14 2 1 Australia
18 Jan 2013 12:45PM
For the method you used (single photo) this came up quite well apart from the sky, but I think that may be because of the grad filter you applied. And that was not a great picture to begin HDR with. The processing on the brick walls are a little strong.

I have done a bit of HDR and found that if you think before taking the shot (as you would normally do) but get into HDR mode, you can end up with some very good results.

When processing HDR, there are two outcomes you can get; natural and surreal. Many people don't like HDR as there are many over-processed pictures out there that look horrid. I have tried to keep my HDR looking very much like how I saw the scene myself, something cameras can struggle with in harsh lighting.

I use Photomatix and I am unsure if the controls are the same as in Photoshop, but I generally go through each setting and start at the highest and click through to the lowest and back again to see what happens. And If I don't like it, I switch across to the Tone Compressor.

Tip: The harsher the light, the wider the bracket. And Vice Versa.

Hope this helps.
Focus_Man 12 481 631 United Kingdom
18 Jan 2013 3:14PM
To me this is a strange outcome to an intended HDR shot. Given the halo or double edge syndrome (I just invented that) particularly on the top of the castle's turrets, I am afraid I am not overkeen.

Your original fails to help me as it is so underexposed. I was half-expecting a correctly exposed shot to see what the original was like in case I preferred it. Any decicion about binning is for you alone.

18 Jan 2013 3:26PM
Thanks Frank, because of the time of day I couldn't get a correctly exposed shot. I was shooting into the sun, so either the castle was black with the sky exposed or the sky was blown out with the castle exposed. This was the only shot that when I played with the exposure slider in LR had detail in the shadows and the highlights. Im not under any illusion with this as for me it is resigned to the bin, however I was looking to see what others thought re processing. the halo I think is down to the edge glow I added in HDR Pro
paulbroad 15 131 1294 United Kingdom
18 Jan 2013 3:38PM
I have to say this shows everything that is wrong with HDR. Sorry to be so blunt, but wrongly applied HDR destroys the tonal range and gives a very flat image, and that is what you have here. Careful tripple exposure application of HDR might work, but the technique is less effective outdoors than indoors. I would have exposed for the castle walls in the first place and added a sky from a stock image later.

Sooty_1 12 1.5k 221 United Kingdom
18 Jan 2013 4:19PM

And that isn't a 'good' OMG. Sorry, but HDR is good when well done, but all you've done with this is to destroy any real tonality the image might have had (which wasn't much!). This one has everything at about the same tonal value, except the delineation of the stonework, which just looks artificial. Subtle is much better, IMHO.

19 Jan 2013 4:13PM
Thanks for that. Kind of confirmed my thoughts. I would normally take 3+ shots bracketed at 1 stop intervals and then combine. I have downloaded the free trial of photomatix and prefer it to cs6 so think ill use that. This was more testing the surreal effect.
banehawi Plus
18 2.9k 4348 Canada
20 Jan 2013 6:57PM
Chris, you cant create HDR this way. You do need to actually shoot multiple exposures - minimum of 7. And you have to pick the appropriate subject. This is not a good subject to use at all. Its one that can work with 2 or three exposure combined, not using HDR, so you you have highlights, midtones and darks. And ideally, you should have no moving subjects. if you search the galleries, you will see many good HDRs, shot mainly indoors, and some outdoor shots.

The V2 youve uploaded, - if its the one that was supposed to capture highlights is way overexposed. And on its own, using basic CS6 shadow and highlight tools can produce the non HDR mod that Ive uploaded.

I would forget about this and start with a good subject, and do it right.


20 Jan 2013 7:00PM
Like I said initially this was more playing about learning the use of settings. I have done another using 5 separate images (taken in camera), which I will upload shortly. I have also done a version, simply using LR and grad filters, with a little bit of levels and clone in PS. I feel confident with LR, but I have always felt that PS was the work of the devil and was about altering reality, however I have sold my soul and am starting to embrace the dark sideGrin
Thanks for your comments
paulbroad 15 131 1294 United Kingdom
20 Jan 2013 7:51PM
Yi firmly believe HDR is a last resort. I have seen far, far more images spoilt with HDR than improved. Most HDR images need a contrast boost at the end of the process too. I rarely use it, but have managed passable results with both multiple exposures and creating different edits from a single RAW. The latter rarely as I rarely use RAW except with commissioned work.

banehawi Plus
18 2.9k 4348 Canada
21 Jan 2013 2:36AM
You cannot create HDR using a single image and LR Chris!


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