Processing HDR Photography

Lesson 1/7 - Class Introduction


Processing HDR Photography


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I've spent a lot of time working in the world of HDR and doing these kinds of things and a lot of the times it's a very polarizing conversation. What happens is people are like, "Oh, HDR photography." You know, it sucks, it's good, it's bad and this and maybe it's just me but it's like, so I've written two books on it and they've done very well, right? But everybody will turn around and be like, "Oh man, I think HDR sucks." And then I turn around and I'm like, this is what I do, and they're like, "But not yours." (laughing) And I'm like "Uhh, okay." So, it's pretty neat. But truthfully like, I've never really been a big fan of the overall process which is kinda weird that I'm teaching a class and I've written books on it. It's when I first wrote the first thing, like when I first started the first part of the book when I pitched the idea, I was like, you know what I wanna call it, I wanna call it Exposing HDR because the entire concept behind it was just like a monkey could do this. Li...

ke I was like, I'm not showing you guys anything that you can't do. Like my look, like if you wanted my portfolio like it comes in a can. It's literally like sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle and you're pretty much done. So, I wanted to write a book that kinda put the nail on the coffin on HDR and was just like, look, there's nothing big about it, there's nothing esoteric, you don't need a robe, you don't need incense, you just need to just do these things, follow these things and you're pretty much done. But there were like, no, no, that's never gonna sell, so just call it the HDR book and I was like, this sucks. But it did well and the entire concept behind the entire thing was just explain out the process and say from start to finish just what it is, how do you work with it and then how do you process. But that's kinda what we did there and then as we did that there's still a lot of people that kinda talk about it from a purist standpoint. And they're just like, well, that stuff looks like junk and that stuff does this and that stuff does that. Let me try to see if I can pull up some of these pictures just to show you of my own stuff just so you can have a general idea because I know that a lot of you guys probably don't know, like I always assume you don't know who I am which is the best way to be able to do that. There are plenty of times that I shoot or I shoot with, there are plenty of times that I shoot where I want to be faithful and I want to be accurate for what it is that I report. There are also times where I don't wanna shoot what it looks like, I wanna shoot what it feels like, right? So, that's a very, very important distinguish, that's what it look like, right? That, that's what it look right, that's what it felt like, right? David Alan Harvey says that and it's a very important thing to be able to keep. I'm not looking for accurate representations of what, I'm not a photojournalist, I'm not gonna be, I'm too fat to be a photojournal, like I can't run fast, I can't hide places. You can spot me a mile away. So, in that I wanna be able to go out and give you kind of these feelings of something that's pretty cool, like this was the Chrysler Building and I wanted to be able to show kind of what it felt like standing on the Chrysler Building in the middle of the night, not falling off of this which I almost did which kind of was a little scary. That's New York. That is Saint Lucia. That's New York as well, that's my wife. That's ballet. So I'll do a random bit of different things when I'm working with stuff but I want to show you like this, right? It's just different way of processing. There's times, right, this one I love to call this is what mommy drinks. (audience laughs) You know, because a little weird, right? That's my wife and daughter, right, when she was a baby baby. So, there are times that I'm very faithful about what it is that I'm doing and that I use photography to be able to tell that kind of story as cleanly as possible. There are times where, this is Bill Superfoot Wallace if anybody knows the karate, he is kickboxing champion. A legend, I had five minutes to be able to do a shoot with him and pulled it off in three. I was like, that's what you get. (laughs) But the idea is when I'm working in the world of HDR, right, we did that for the navy. It was the inside of a destroyer. When I'm doing this kind of stuff I'm not looking to be realistic, I'm looking to be fantastic and this is the inner kid of me playing around with stuff. Photography doesn't have to be that serious, we don't have to ascribe ourselves, there's so many different rules when we're working with it. Sometimes it's about just taking a sheet of paper, putting it down, grabbing a whole bunch of crayons and just going nuts. And if people don't like it too bad, I'm in my own head and I'm working and I'm doing my own thing. So, I tend not to get involved in all of these. Oh, I gotta tell this, I'll tell you guys this story which has nothing to do with HDR. But I always, every time I see it I bring it up. I you haven't notice I have short attention span theater. So, this is my mom and a lot of the times, I grew up, it sounds terrible because it's like I always tell the story this way. I was like, I grew up as poor as poor can be. My dad never went to school, my mom never went to school. I'm Mexican and Puerto Rican born in the South Bronx and we sat there and they did the best that they could to be able to raise us in the South Bronx and all of a sudden by the grace of God I happen to be standing in front of you guys at CreativeLive and everybody around the world. But my mom never got a chance to go to school. My mom never got a chance to be able to do all of that kind of stuff and you take for granted a lot of the things that you don't know like math or technology or things like that. My dad died and left her behind and she found her way. She's been finding a way now for 20 years. So one day she shows up and she looks at me, and she's like, "All of my friends are on Facebook." (audience laughing) And at first I wanted to giggle but then I thought to myself and I was just like, imagine feeling like you're just left behind and ever since my dad died, I turned around and I was like, listen, if you wanna run naked on a horse, my job's to find the horse, right? So I was like, game on. We're gonna do it. And I was like, I have a computer in the garage, I'm gonna bring it out. I'm gonna set it on the kitchen table or I'm gonna set it on the dining room table and I'm turn it on. I just want the very first picture of when you sit in front of that computer. Start it, so she fired it up, turned it on, I set up the camera, went bloop, and I got the shot. So, it was just like it was really cool kind of like an aura so I always think about it. I was thinking about her the last couple of days which is kinda cool but then it's kinda not cool because she's on Facebook now. (audience laughs) So, she'll turn around, she'll send me messages and be like, "Hey look, good luck in CreativeLive. "Listen, if you really need to go throw up "make sure that you throw up early "and then go brush your teeth "because I know how nervous you get when you throw up." And then it's just a normal response but everybody throws up and I'm like, "Mom, this is my wall. (audience laughing) "Everybody sees this, it's the fan page." And she's like, "You just told everybody that I'm throwing up." She's like, "That's okay, I'm your mom." (audience laughing) Unfriend. (laughs) But anyway, so I think it's kinda neat. I wanna show some of these pictures, I don't wanna show some of these pictures because of licensing but I will tell you this. There are some pictures that are inside of here like this is an HDR shot, right? Black and white, HDR. People talk about like Ansel Adams, his own system, right? He had a big number system to turn around and go, take this stuff and this is zone five and this is how you explain. Basically he was taking one portion of an image and exposing it not quite the way that you would normally expose it. And then taking another part of an image and not quite expose it the way you expose it. I'm like, how is that any different from HDR? But then people to argue about purity and people argue about purity of concept and I'm like dude, you spend so much time attaching yourself to rules that you don't know where they came from. Or you can go shoot and have fun with it, have a process with it. So, that was the idea of working with the HDR book and doing all of that kind of processing but I knew that there was a sense of that, of me having to go and kind of address the naturalistic portions and address the technical side of HDR and how you work with HDR. So, that's kind of evolved to what we've done now which is a process where you can do it both in Photoshop, you can do it in Lightroom, you can do it with a third party program. And what I wanted to do is just kind of walk you guys throughout the entire process from start to finish and show you the kind of stuff that I do. So I like to take pictures inside of places that look like this that are very derelict, right? I tend to think I fit in which is good. Like a bandana and a tank top and you'd be handing me change. (laughs) I'm like it's totally fine. So, that's what we're gonna do today. So we're gonna talk a little bit about the process but before we do I wanted to kinda show you a little bit of what the problem is when we talk about the concept of HDR. At its core, it's basically this, right? Here's a picture of the inside of an apartment in Salt Lake City, right? And I love what this looks like. That looks great, right? What I don't love is that I can't see my way through the rest of the apartment, right? If you increase the exposure, well, that looks a lot better than the other one but I'm beginning to lose some stuff inside of the clouds, and look, the apartment's actually kinda cool. But by the time that you really notice how cool that apartment is you've lost all of these information that sits right here, right? That is known as an exposure range, right. Your eyes can see a specific amount of information. If you were standing in the center of that apartment you would be able to see X amount of stops and I'm not gonna say how many stops because that's the chat when we'll go crazy and people be like, oh, you can see 14 stops, 17 stops. I could barely see what's in front of me now. So, we'll leave that but it's the latitude or the range at which you can see stuff is a lot greater than what your camera can do, right? So, when you take, when you're sitting in this apartment you could see the sky look like this and you can see the apartment look like this. You can see the detail that sits inside of here and you can see the stuff that sits inside of the sky. But you can't really fully see it to its perfection inside of one picture. So, what you wanna do, you could certainly take a picture of it but what you want to do is you want to be able to figure out how to take the best of all of that stuff. And put it together inside of one picture so that you have a picture of high dynamic range, that's what HDR is. It's basically high dynamic range photography. It's as if you took a series of pictures and you're making a picture sandwich. Right, so you have these, all these exposures and you're like this. And you're trying to bite into the picture and you're trying to really get your mouth around the picture and you can't. So, the first part of the process is to be able to grab all of that stuff and put together the sandwich and you're making a big sandwich. And then once you have that sandwich you're gonna squeeze the snot out of that sandwich. You're gonna just bring it down and bring it down and bring it down and start meshing all of that stuff together to a manageable size that you can stick in your mouth or put on the web, right? That's in essence what you're doing, right?

Class Description

Have you ever taken a shot of an extraordinary scene but were disappointed by how the pictures turned out? Welcome to the club! Oftentimes, our cameras simply can’t capture the glorious range of light and shadow that we see in real life. Fortunately, we have High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography to fix that. HDR is a post-processing technique that allows you to combine two or more photos taken at different levels of exposure to achieve a single image with stunning luminosity and richer shadows. While it’s commonly used to correct washed-out or overly dark photos, it can also be used to create wonderfully artistic, impressionistic scenes. RC Concepcion, author of the bestselling “The HDR Book,” will go over camera capture techniques, processing tips and tricks, and how to use software to create amazing images.