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Editing HDR in Photoshop

Lesson 31 from: Post-Processing for Outdoor and Travel Photographers

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

31. Editing HDR in Photoshop

Lesson Info

Editing HDR in Photoshop

so the other day we talked about some of the things we could do with photo shop but we didn't have enough time to get into everything I would have liked to cover so let's take a look at some of the other concepts we could get into all right hdr high dynamic range hdr is something where if you don't capture the full brightness range of a scene in a single shot you can take multiple shots and combine them together and hold on one second I'm trying to get light room too okay trying to get light room to do what I wanted it to so let's look at an example here I'm in one building and I'm shooting different building in the distance and if you look at this image you can't see the interior of the building I'm in at all but if I remember correctly and we'll find out in a few moments I think there was a nice shutters that were around the door that was where the window is looking through and let's see if I took a brighter shot in a brighter shot oh there I can see that because they're not shutters...

their doors but I wanted to show those doors as kind of a framing device and at the same time show the building in the distance and when I was shooting I could choose to either expos for the building in the distance or expose more for the interior I wasn't able to get detail in both and so this is a good example of when hdr might be essential when you shoot hd are we're not going to talk that much about shooting this is supposed to be post production but if you get the glass remember there's a bonus pdf that does talk about shooting it I'll just cover a little bit most of the time the difference between these shots will be two stops of exposure difference in when I've done capturing the images I review the images and I look at the darkest picture and I just make sure that I'm not losing highlight detail the highlights aren't blown out to solid white if they are blown out to solid white I needed darken uh what I'm shooting so I changed the exposure compensation into a negative number and I shoot the sequence again but I look at that darkest shot said there shouldn't be anything in there that it's solid white unless it's like the noonday sun or something else extremely bright and then ideally the brightest shot I'd be easy to see what's in the dark part of the picture if what was up here was overly important like there's a mural painted up here is something I'd need more than three shots I need a fourth or fifth until I could see what's up here but that's not important to me so I didn't care so I'm gonna take these three shots and I'm going to go to the develop module and let's look at some of the things we're going to do before and after we merge them first photoshopped usually sharpens things with default settings and this image wasn't it default settings it looks like I've adjusted it before let me actually get so they are at defaults take me just a moment so now we can see it defaults with default settings photo shop applies sharpening to the image the problem is when I emerged hdr it's going to exaggerate the sharpening that's been applied to the image so I will usually set it to zero what I'll do is I'll sharpen the picture but only after it's been merged those three exposures have been merged into one then I can sharpen it I will do noise reduction though if it's needed so I might look at these images individually and usually it's the brightest shot that I need to look at and what I'll do is if on the brightest shot if it's not bright enough like this one doesn't look bright enough I'll brighten it up I could bring up the shadow slider here until it is the brightness I want right about there but if you do need to brighten up that bright a shot teo get it so you can easily see the shadow detail any time you do that it's usually going to make it so you can easily see the noise that was there a swell because noise hangs out the darkest part of your image we haven't talked about noise reduction yet we can cover it more detail later on today but know that I would apply noise reduction right now you can do that with the slider here that's just called luminescence under noise reduction but you first probably want to click on this little cross hair like thing and dragged it down to your picture just click on it get out here and click on an area where you could see what used to be dark so you can see if you got enough noise reduction applied other things that end up adjusting with hdr before I end up merging them is chromatic aberrations another adjustment haven't talked about yet but it's found underneath this area called lens corrections if he were to look very close at this image you might notice that there are little fringes of color around the edges of things I can see a hint of green right here green right there magenta right there usually will be on the edges of objects in those are things that are going to exaggerated when we merge these hdr said there another thing that I try to correct for before emerge if I'm going to correct for him though I need to make sure I get all three images selected because they all three needed it's only noise reduction that needs to be done to the brightest image and that's on ly if he needed to brighten it further so I'll go over here to the lens corrections area of light room and there's just a choice right here called removed chromatic aberration you're more than welcome to also use this upper setting if you find it to be useful but it's not critical that you do it now we'll get more into what those settings to later on and then the final thing you might want to do is adjust the white balance I find that the white balance can be considerably different between the shots here the light that was in the interior of the structure might be a completely different color of light in the sunlight that seeing the building in the distance so you could adjust the images individually if you find that the color is way off it's not way off though the auto setting will probably be fine now let's merge these images together I have the three selected I'll go to the photo menu I'll choose edit in and I'm going to find a choice near the bottom called merge to hdr pro in photo shop when I do that photo shop is going to take these three images is going to bring them into photo shop and then it's going to merge the three images into a single one and when it does it's going to present me with the dialogue box where it assumes I wanna optimize the image using photo shop but I prefer to optimize the image using light room and so we're gonna have to ignore a few settings that air in there so this is what it comes up with let's take a look at what is showing us first in the bottom left it shows me the three exposures that I'm combining together if he had more than three there'd be more than three pictures down there underneath each one it tells you how how much of an exposure difference there was between them this one was at the metered exposure that my camera thought it should shoot at this one's too stops brighter this one's to stop starker and if I had a bunch of exposures which is sometimes necessary to have an extreme brightness difference if you ever look up here at this preview and you see weird odd colors in it sometimes in a sky you'll see like a band of magenta or something going through it it just completely looks wrong then go down to where those little check boxes are at the bottom of each image and turn them off one at a time in see if skipping one of those pictures might prevent the banding you only need to do that on occasion but just on occasion you see weird stuff going through sky and you might end up with a smoother result by not using all the images on the right side there's a couple choices the main one is this little pop up menu where I could choose between thirty two bit sixteen bit in eight bit thirty two bit means I don't want to process the image here I don't want to optimize it in this dialog box I'm gonna use something else eight or sixteen bit means I want to optimize it here and it just says how much information do I want to end up with around two hundred fifty brightness levels or thousands and what that would determine is how big of a change you're going to make later on in photoshopped beyond what you can do in this dialog box we're not gonna have to worry about that because we're going to use light room but just so you know if I chose one of these this would change and give me a bunch of adjustment sliders well we want to do though is leaving on thirty two bit and that that means is do not finish your processing in here we're going to do it in light room instead just above that there's a check box called removed ghosts and that should be turned on if there's any emotion in your scene if it's windy and there's trees moving in the breeze or if you have water like a river and there's waves just other kind of movement because if that's not turned on photo shops gonna assume there's nothing in the scene at all moving and if there's anything moving this will take some extra steps to try to make sure you don't see any doubled images where like a person walking through the scene shows up twice because they were in a different position and each shot so in this particular case I don't think there's an emotion in there so I'm going to leave that turned off but if there was a flag flapping in the breeze water trees and the wind that kind of stuff and turned on then down here at the bottom there's a check box that's called complete toning in adobe came a raw that's if you wanted to process it here in photo shop I'm going to turn that off yeah I'll click okay I don't expect the picture look good at all in here when it's done I'm just going to save the image we have light room set up already in our preferences to default to saving photoshopped images is tiff files it does need to be in tiff file format come on photo shot usually when it's done it would just send me into photo shop I could type command s I'm not sure why I'm not seeing anything all right usually when you click okay you just are presented with the resulting image in photo shop and you type command us let's try a different a vengeance see if we can get a better result I'm gonna come in here and let's see uh I'm going to choose a few more exposures just try one more time because I'm not sure what was happening there you could also get a plug in from a company called h d are soft where you wouldn't need photo shop if you go to hdr soft is in software and she are soft dot com you can get a plug in for light room where it will do the merging and it will re import the image in the light room using a little program instead of having to buy a very expensive photoshopped and I don't remember the cost of the plug in but I'm assuming it's like twenty or thirty dollars and it would make this process nice painless as well so you want thirty two bit turn off that check box and then click okay cross your fingers hoping it will create a file now remember this particular image I didn't pre adjust they should have dramatic aberrations and other things I just grabbed one is a back up here and we'll hope this works if it doesn't we'll find a picture that's already been merge because it's just something that yeah that's odd usually you see the end result picture sitting right here now let me see if it's actually got a picture of it does there are two pictures open right now I don't know why father shop doesn't want to show them to me but at the bottom of the window menu it usually lists files and you can switch between them but for some reason photoshopped thinks there's a file open right now but doesn't want to show it to me so I'm going to see if I can save it anyway yes it looks like I can alright even though it is what it showed so I'm just gonna choose save and I believe that was the first image that I had open and if I go to the folder that this was in it should show up or I think it just important it right up there yeah I thought I saw a second ago you see to the bottom here let's just go to the folder where these originals are so weird look at where my mouse's appear I'll click right here it thinks my mouse is down there I have had this happen once before it didn't have to do with something we've done a few minutes ago and that is when I act as if I have to monitors hooked up but I don't truly remember how he saw it as a separate window the I have had it were after doing that on a single window it thought my mouse was in a different location and so I'm gonna quit light room and then I'll bring the light room right back up and hopefully it will be better uh and if not we'll have to figure out an alternative so I'm going to the folder where this original thing resides and I'll go up to the top of my screen I can uh filter here by file type and I'll just see if there's a tiff file sitting in there uh there's not the one for the image I did so let me see if we can go and try to save it again yeah photo shop is the one that's acting odd this is what photo shop is showing me so I'm going to see if it'll let me save an image on my desktop it did ask me for the options so I think it is saving and I'm gonna quit photo shop just cause it's acted funny both programs where and since I just saved that image I shouldn't need to do that see if we actually ended up with a file yes we did and I can see it does look like our first image so I'm not sure exactly what was going on there but I'm going to import that image taken just a moment to figure out where to put it uh was it in this folder on on okay I'm gonna go to the folder where the original pictures reside so goto that folder and I'll just right click and say shown finder although I could drag the picture I'm just going to drag this to that folder I hope it went into asia not prima and then I can right click on this folder and there's a choice called synchronized and synchronized means go look for images that are in that folder that are not in my catalog and she had found one synchronized synchronize always means check what I have in light room and compared to what's on my drive there's anything different go and grab it so I'm not sure exactly why what is going on with photo shop but you see how they try to work around whatever it throws me so now if I look in here and I filled her my metadata and I look for a tiff I have my image know that usually you should not have to go through any of the stuff that I just did instead what would happen is if you were just sitting in a folder where your image resided you would select the images you would end up going to the photo menu choosing edit in and you had that choice of merged two hdr pro and whatever merge thd are pro was done you just type command us to save it and close it and it will be just sitting here in light room but for some reason photoshopped wanted some drama today and we let it have its little spout but the we'll still be able to do it so here's the resulting image all I'm going to do with this image is go to the develop module so type a letter d for develop and that will bring us an indoor develop module but the image is not gonna look very good yet it's just that it has a tremendous amount of information it lot of highlight detail lot of shadow detail but we need to move the sliders in the developed module bring it out now usually you would bring the highlight slider down to darken the bright part of the image and usually you could only do that a little bit you might be able to get away with maybe this amount visually in the picture but since this is three images that have been merged together I can do it a ridiculous amount much more so than usual usually this would be maxed out at one hundred percent way before it got this dark then in the shadows usually could bring up the shadow slider and if you brought it up you might be able to get maybe that much detail out of the shadows with a normal picture but since this is three pictures combined into one I could move the shadow slider quite a distance the only thing is we've maxed out the shadow slider I told you a trick before though remember there was a trick where either one of these slaughters got maxed out but the other one hadn't been yet you could cheat what the way you would cheat is he go to the exposure slider and you'd move it in the same direction of the one that's maxed out so I'll do that and then to compensate for what happened to the area weren't trying to adjust you crab highlights in this case and bring it down in general with hdr though what I do is I end up just maxing out both the highlights in the shadows as a starting point we can always back off on him but just do that as a starting point then adjust exposure until you like the overall look of your image and then if the highlights or shadows are too much you can back off on but it's going to be a combination of highlight shadows and your exposure and now you optimize this image like you would optimizing any picture you've ever worked on there's nothing really different about it we could use contrast control how big of a difference is there between bright and dark there might be just a little bit much there and if I ever end up lowering contrast I usually compensate for that by increasing clarity except brings out the fine little details in the image and then we have vibrance and saturation to control how colorful the images be very careful with vibrance though especially with hdr vibrance usually darkens blues and makes them more colorful it assumes that blue is always a sky even though it's not always and it's very easy to overdo especially on hdr so if I do it here look at the stairs I know if you can tell but their steps coming up to the doorway they're going to get fried if I do that so in fact sometimes I'll move vibrance into the negative range to say mellow out those blues that it always tries to overdue and I'll use saturation instead to boost things but anyway you have all the controls you haven't any any image so if the image is too yellow or two blue we can adjust the white balance a bit same with the other the main thing is we have a much greater latitude when it comes to moving the sliders because you're a lot more data in this picture I still will always make sure there's a little hint of black in my image so hold on the option key grab the black slider bring it down to I c at least a small area of black and we can do you know whatever other kind of adjustments you think is needed but in the end this is a special tiff file and it's got our extremely wide brightness french so let's see if photo shop actually wants to oops did meteo cc to cooperate so we can see how it's supposed to actually look grab some images now remember there are some pre processing steps that I usually do I go to the develop module and at minimum I'm gonna come over here to lens corrections and turn on removed chromatic aberrations and if I need teo all adjust white balance because it's not going to be a cz effective afterwards because it's only a raw file where you can really find tn the white balance where the image doesn't degrading quality and I always look at the brightest image all by itself and if the dark portions of the brightest image are not bright enough you could bring up your shadow slaughter here to get out a little bit extra out of it that I take these images let's see if it'll let me do it and that is okay photo edit in merge to hdr pro and photoshopped take a little while for it to think about it and I'm hoping will actually end up with a problem with this one in that we might have banding in the sky because it's one of it's the type of image where you might get that yeah just remember when this dialog box comes up what's important is that you choose thirty two bit and you turn off the checkbox in there that said you wanted to adjust it with camera so appear I just double check it should remember the settings thirty two bit in that check boxes turned off and yes I do see the band and I was hoping so s o do you see in the sky this kind of magenta band can you get see that you'll find that happen on occasion and it will happen when you have an extremely wide brightness strange and especially when you have a sky across there and I'm not absolutely certain we'll be able to get rid of it but let's see if we can use it to check box is at the bottom a couple different things you can do teo try tio best preview it the first thing is I will often change the mod menu to one of these other choices just to get a better preview of the image I'm going to act as if I'm going to process the image right in here and that's just so the view I get my picture looks more normal and I can still see that band of magenta going through the sky after I change this menu and I'm just going to turn off these check box is one of the time and see if the band goes away it didn't go away when I turned off this check box I'll turn that check box back on and I'll go to the next one over and I'll turn it off and turn it back on if it didn't go away and often times you're going to find there's one little magical exposure this one it's affecting at some I can see the banning changing with that but oftentimes will be one that'll just make it go away when I'm not going to be lucky in this case though but they're okay just went away could you see that when I turned off the brightest exposure we had banding before and after it looks smooth so I'm just going to leave that check box turned off to say avoid that picture now the only reason I changed this menu over here was to get a better preview a preview where it thought it was going to optimize the image right here so it gave me more oven optimized look I'm going to change it back to thirty two bit though and just click okay and I'm gonna hope that photo shop behaves but if it doesn't I know the file still there so I'll still be able to save it all we need to do that to save it as a tiff file and we already have light room set up to default to tiff so I should be able to just come up here and choose file save and then I'm going to close the file get away for this little number to finish you can click on the xbox before the percentage goes to one hundred and it would just close it once it gets to one hundred now if I returned a light room now look at these images I'm going to go to the original folder where these images reside because right now I'm looking at a collection it doesn't always automatically re add things to the collection and I can either filter in here for a file type look for defiles where it will often be at the very bottom of that folder but I'm going to go over here and do you filter for tiff files it looks like we have some there's my file I'll hit d for develop and I wish it would have been able to use that brightest image because that's really where the river was so we'll be limited here but let's take a look now you see how much I could get out of my sky let's see how much I could get out of the bottom it doesn't go quite as bright aside like remember we under skipped the first one the brightest image because it was making banding but I could do that I could try to push my exposure except maxed out my shadows get a little bit brighter and then bring my highlights back down or adjust contrast a bit to tryto find tune that and just optimized the image in general so here's another image taken in the same location that since it's a tiff file it usually means it's an hd our file in my case eso there's another one this one was with earlier processing and sometimes you're going to end up with some artifacts that people move or if you move the sliders really far but this one I think was processed with another piece of software like one called photo matics photo max is an alternative that we could use because I see all these sliders are set to zeros I find that what light room gives you looks cleaner than what photo matics usually provides but it is good alternative tohave if you need to process a lot of hdr files we have general questions about how to go through that process of merging the images together using photo shot and having them show back up in light room where you can process him using the slaughters in like so then we do have a question from catherine I don't know this is the right time but says can you convert the images to smart objects then merge them to hdr in photoshopped to make it possible to edit them mohr extensively in light room later no not really what's happening is in essence we have a smart object of the end result because the changes that we're making to it are just meta data meaning the original file is still retained but it depends on how you're thinking about it what I would like to be able to do it's to select these three images in when I merge them be able to go back to the individual original files and if I found the white balance need to be adjusted on one that it would update the merged version but that's not possible in the type of merging that we did sense we're doing our processing in light room there's no need for a smart object a smart object is just a container that says protect whatever is in it and what would be in it would be our hdr image since we're doing our processing and light room the changes we're making is just text the original merged image is still protected it's as if it's a smart object so I don't know if I'm understanding the question correctly where it's it's already giving them something similar no I think that was right on and then a couple people hot baba and callum conroy are asking a little bit about could you have masked the sky and the image that was causing the banding and then sort of merged both of those images could have masked the sky well when it comes to merging hdr usually needs the data there I could have merged the image twice once with the sky once with the brightest exposure included and once without and then I could have said use the sky from the one that didn't use the brightest exposure and use the bottom portion image from the one that did so I would actually merge it twice once with the brightest enclosure included once without then I could use the load of files into photoshopped layers command rumor thing that's stacked him and I could use a mask now I know though that I find hdr is used way too frequently I find that there are so many images where you would never need it instead just one single shot is good enough for a lot of times if you ever look at the history graham on your camera and it's not having a huge spike on the far right or the far left if it's very short on both ends there's a good chance you don't need a pr but I see a lot of people doing it anyway and oftentimes it would look cleaner if they just used to single shot you know like this image here is just a single shot the only thing I would have gained from hdr would be maybe the teeniest bit more detail up here I don't know if you remember when we looked at this image with the adjustment brush but I had to bring down the color a little bit here and try to bring some more detail in but otherwise it was fine

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After catching parts of each of the three days, I knew that I would need to have access to this wealth of information. What is great about the program is the ability to stop and go back over something that is not fully understood...and be able to do that until confident enough to move on. I saw no "fluff" in the course, just great information imparted with a style that is makes it easy to understand. CreativeLive scored a big hit with this course! The bonus material is SO valuable, especially the presets. That saves an enormous amount of time for me. My appreciation of the power behind the software is becoming ever clearer. Thanks, Ben, for another outstanding presentation!

Shannon Beelman Photography

Ben has been amazing! He is a wealth of information on organizing images as well as great tips to make your travel images pop just a little more. I came into this class feeling like I had a good handle on lightroom and have come out with a better understanding of the power of the software to make artistic life easier. He covers tips, tricks and little known options that help make workflow smother. I have sat here watching as much of the free broadcast as I can and in this last week I have gotten control over years of images in my lightroom. This is one I know I will be buying soon.


Great class! Somehow, it was enjoyable not having Ben default to "curves for everything"! I don't think the title for this course did it justice, tho. This class was 90% Light Room and 10% Photoshop. I was very happy to discover that dynamic and equally as happy to purchase this course! If you are new to Light Room, this class is a MUST. Creative Live offers several LR classes but this is the one to own. Ben is working on his new book about Light Room Mastery - can't wait! In the meanwhile, I'll be watching Ben's thorough approach to LR in this video. So, don't let the title throw you a curve ball, if you are new to Light Room or a seasoned user, there's plenty of great information - delivered as only Ben can! Thanks CL for this great class!

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