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dmenges

Rochester, US
2134 posts

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dmenges Silver Member Nikonian since 26th May 2004
Thu 13-Nov-08 03:42 PM | edited Wed 16-Dec-09 03:07 AM by wpgf100

Owen asked me to share my HDR technique, including my home made Photoshop "recipe". There are an unlimited number of ways to do use Photomatix and Photoshop to create very natural HDR images. This is just one. Just a start. Experiment and have fun.

Shooting Set Up
-----------------
1. Shoot RAW images.
2. First, set your camera to -.3 EV prior to taking the images. A little darker is better.
3. More depth of field the better, although I found f/14 to be the best for architectural shots.
4. Use the lowest ISO you can. HDR imaging introduces some noise. High ISO images do not translate well.
5. Use a tripod and a shutter release cable
6. Use Auto Bracketing (1-stop difference)
a. 3 images for direct lit scenes
b. 3-5 images for side lit scenes
c. 5-7 images for back lit scenes
7. Set your Nikon to high speed "burst" mode (Ch)
8. Compose and fire away.

HDRing the Images
-----------------
1. Use Photomatix Pro. The stand alone version; not the plugin.
2. Click on Create HDR Image. Find your images and use all of the defaults as you click through the screens.
3. Once you have the HDR image, click on Tone Mapping
4. With Detail Enhancer selected (top left), click on Default (bottom) to start from scratch. Photomatix always returns to the last used settings. (good when you're doing a bunch of shots from the same spot with the same lighting).
5. At the top, change Strength to 90; Color Saturation to 50; Light Smoothing to 4th dot.
6. At the Bottom:
-> With Tone selected - Move the Black Point up a bit to darken. Leave everything else.
-> With Color selected - leave all defaults.
-> With Micro selected - Contrast = +4; Micro Smoothing = 0 (this brings out detail)
-> With S/H selected - leave all defaults.
7. Process your image and save it. I usually use JPG...

CAUTION: The above HDR settings work for me with my architectural images. It's a good STARTING place. You really have to experiment to find the best settings for you.

Final Touch Up in Photoshop - my "Secret"
----------------------------------
1. Open your image.
2. Create a new Curves Image Adjustment layer.
3. Click in the middle of the Curves line and drag it up as far as you can without it "flattening" at the top. See image below. Click OK to create new layer.
4. Change the layer blending mode from Normal to Soft Light.
5. You will notice a lot of contrast and brightness is introduced. I often leave it like this, but sometimes you need to change the Opacity to lessen the effect.
6. You can perform other Photoshop techniques if you like, but I find this alone makes my HDR image pop.
6. Flatten the image and save.

Hope that helps.... my Secret is out!

Click on image to view larger version

(Hope this helps Don, Chris)

Click on image to view larger version


Attachment #1, (jpg file)

Don Menges
Menges Technology Integration

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