This has been in the making for quite a while now. A few years ago, I became aware of the existence of High Dynamic Range photography, thanks to a discussion over lunch break at a local camera store among photography enthusiasts. Half an hour later, after returning back to my desk, I found myself executing a Google search to find out more about High Dynamic Range photography. The rest, as they say (and as is somewhat cliché), is history. After 2 years in the making, I finally got around to putting together a video tutorial on how to create high dynamic range images using Adobe Photoshop, Photomatix Pro, and Topaz Labs Adjust and Imagenomics Noiseware. Here are the videos.
This video tutorial contains 5 sections;
Before going any further, I need to call out an item that is often one of contention. HDR photography is a technique that allows Digital Photographers to capture the full range of colours and tones in an image. While it may enhance the look and feel of an image, it is not an excuse for poor composition, poor technique or just plain laziness. At the end of the day, the rules of good photography still apply; and these include, composition and lighting. At the end of the day, if you want to photograph something, you have to get up early in the morning. You have to get out there. Photography is more than owning a biggest, baddest camera and the most expensive photo editing software on the most powerful computer that money can buy. Capturing the perfect image requires patience, and commitment, and often involves hiking, climbing, getting rained and snowed on, getting baked in the sun, getting stung by insects, chased by animals and putting your personal safety in peril. No amount of Photoshop or photo editing will ever make a poorly composed shot look amazing.
With that said, I felt it would be prudent to open with a video that would showcase what HDR can do.
Are we in the mood to explore HDR techniques?
There are two schools of thought for HDR photography. The former believes in the use of 3 bracketted exposures all taken by the camera individually and then merged together in an HDR processing program. The latter uses a single exposure show in RAW and digitally creates the multiple bracketted exposure. I am of the latter school and will be using this method. If you already have your bracketted images, you can skip this and move on to the next step.
This step assumes that you have multiple bracketted exposures of the image that you wish to convert to an HDR image. Whether you have digitally created the exposures, or you have shot them individually, it doesn’t really matter. The principles are the same.
At this stage, you might have reached a pleasing result. In such an event, you can stop here.
In the past, this is where I used to stop. However, I have since discovered a few post processing techniques that have helped me achieve very different results from what I had earlier. In the next step, we will look to add some “oomph!” to our image.
At this stage, we have an image with plenty of oomph, and the noise to go with it. The bane of all HDR images is the grain that you see in the image that we call noise. In our final step, we will look into how we can do away with noise for a finalised product.
I hope this tutorial has been useful. Discount codes for products from both HDRSoft (Photomatix Pro) and Topaz Labs (Adjust and DeNoise) are available here. Use the Discount Code “DoubleConvex” (without quotation marks) to get a 15% discount off your purchase.
Last but not least, I would like to thank Trey Ratcliff at StuckInCustoms.com for the inspiration that set me on this journey, and from where I have learned a thing or two. This is my endeavour to give back to the same medium that I learnt from.