Photomatix From HDRsoft


Processing HDR Photography


Lesson Info

Photomatix From HDRsoft

Now, from here, we talked about how to be able to do it inside of Photoshop, we talked about how to be able to do it inside of Lightroom. There are third-party programs that you can use to do this. There's a bunch of them out there. I'm a big fan of one program that I've been using for all of the books and a lot of the work that I do, and that's a program called Photomatix, from a company called HDRsoft. They produce a pretty good file for working with HDR files. Now, what I'm going to do here is I'm just going to grab, or I'll do it here, this is pretty cool. I'm gonna grab these files. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I'm gonna grab these seven files that I have here, I'm gonna right-click, and I'm gonna select Export from the list. Because it happens to be a third-party program, you're going to find it under the Export menu. All right, so inside of here, I'm gonna select Photomatix Pro from the list and what that will do is it'll take all of this information and it's gonna p...

ush all of the information out and run it into Photomatix Pro. Now you'll see here that it says, all right, in order for you to be able to do this, what do you want to do? Do you want to align your images? So if I find a problem with the tripod, do you want to fix that already? Yes, please. Do you want me to crop anything? No, 'cause I might want to be able to do that later. Right? I could probably distort it or puppet warp it or do something to change it. Do I want to see the dialog box to be able to remove some ghosts? Yes, that'd be a pretty good idea, right? Just in case there was something that was messed up. Reducing noise. Do I want to reduce noise? Never, really, because I could always do this later. I could always use noise reduction inside of Lightroom, it's much better. So, I'm gonna go ahead and I'm gonna take care of that there. Chromatic aberration. I have a much better tool inside of Lightroom to be able to do that. Now, from here, I'll go ahead and I'll re-import back into the Lightroom library, and this is the one part that I hate. Sometimes, it's really hard for me to find the file that I need, so what I usually do is I add a suffix called HDR. That way, whatever the name of the file is, it'll always say -HDR. In the previous class, we talked about smart collections and how to be able to use smart collections for stuff. I did one for five-star shots, I did one for smart previews. I would make one that has the word HDR in the text file so that if I need to find any HDR files, I know exactly where they are. So, once I have this set, the output format's gonna be 16-bit, that's fine, I'm gonna click on Export. When I worked inside of Lightroom, and we'll come back and we'll do a couple more inside of Lightroom so that you could see the difference. When I was working inside of Lightroom, I was working in a very naturalistic point of view, like I wanted something to just look somewhat normal. Photomatix has got a great set of tools to be able to do that, like they've recently included stuff for real estate photography and all that kind of stuff, which I think is great, kudos to them for that, but one of the other things that I think that they do is they really do a good artistic impression, which is kinda where I like to play when I'm doing stuff. So notice that here in the beginning, you have Selective Deghosting and Automatic Deghosting. If I click on the Automatic Deghosting, it says pick one of the guys that you want to deghost from, and then you pick on a slider. So just select one, drag it to the right. If you don't like it, select another one, drag it to the right. Sometimes, selective deghosting is a good option, because inside of here, you can go, I'm going to tell you the area that is messed up and then you fix it based on that area. So I have this set here, and what I'll do is, I'm gonna make a circle around an area that I think is messed up, so I'm gonna go over here. I'm gonna go, that area, right there. That's the one that I want you to use. So I'm gonna right-click and mark selection as ghosted area. Once you do that, it goes okay, I'm gonna snap that, I'm gonna make sure that that's the part that's really good. Once I have that set, I'm gonna click OK. Now it's going to take that information, it's gonna make that sandwich. You take all those exposures and you make a really, really big sandwich. Now, I'm gonna show you what this looked like when we first started. Which brings us to a bigger question. Does HDR as an artistic method, or any of that stuff, is it a magic bullet? You see people do HDR and they're like, oh man, I just totally got into it, and look, these are the pictures that I've seen. I'm like, uh, you missed a part. You missed the part where this looks like junk. Right here. This doesn't look so hot, right here. And you're gonna notice that on the artistic side, as you start playing with this, there's no amount of jiggling buttons that's going to fix that. The better HDRs that you see that are of that kind of artistic, hyper-realistic, require a certain level of post-processing, even after the fact. And that's the hidden secret. Anytime people talk about HDR, it's like if you just spit it out of the thing and just post it, it's not gonna look good. But almost always, blending them and adding effects to it after the fact is what makes it much better. But, let's take a look at this now. Notice that on the right-hand side, there's my Detailed section. They do have a Balanced option, notice that it mitigates a lot of this kind of stuff here. And, they do have a Realistic option that mitigates it even further. And what it's doing is, it's using these different sections. Notice that on the left-hand side, there's an area that says Details Enhancer, which is one method by which it produces HDR stuff. And, as you go into something like Balanced, notice that it brings us to a spot where it says Contrast Optimizer, so that's another way that they're doing it. If you go over to your Realistic, it brings us to Tone Balancer. So, these are settings that they would use for more naturalistic types of looks real estate photography does a great job at. So you do have a good tool set for that. Now, for me, this is crayons, paper, we're playing. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going into Detailed. And under Detailed, I'll give you exactly, like 90% of all of the HDRs that I do look exactly the same. Inside of here, I want to be able to grab my strength. Now, watch this. Strength, what does strength do? It affects the amount of enhancements given to contrast and detail in the image. A value of 100 gives the greatest enhancement. It literally is telling you at the bottom. If you don't know what it does, just hover over the slider, it'll tell you at the bottom. Think of it this way. I'm looking for (grunts). Right? (grunts) So, I can't get (grunts) at a strength of 70. So I'm gonna grab this thing, I'm gonna move it all the way to 100. From there, the next section that you have is an area called Tone Compression. Tone compression, if you move it all the way over here, (grunts) (laughs) But as you start moving it over to the left, you'll start noticing that those highlights all start getting compressed and then you'll get to a point where all of a sudden the shadows will start getting darker. How much of that do you want to play with? To taste. You're gonna decide how much you want to be able to run that slider. A lot of the times, if I run my slider all the way over in one direction, I'll take the Strength and I'll run it in the opposite direction. I use them as almost kind of like as counter-levers of one another. The next section that you see here is Detail Contrast. How much contrast do you want to see in the details? I don't know. I'm thinking a lot? But once I make that adjustment, I almost always go back in and adjust tone compression. Start at 100, grab my tone compression, move it to the left. Detail Contrast, if you drag it to the right and it messes things off, step off your tone compression. To taste. Now you have this, Lighting Adjustments. Lighting adjustments is almost technically like the different versions of HDR. In earlier versions, they used to just have buttons. It'd just go, you want option one, option two, option three, or option four? I almost always keep it over here, on the right-hand side. I think if you move it all the way on the left, it tends to have a little bit of an Elvis on Velvet feel. So, I stay away from that stuff. Unless you like Elvis on Velvet, then it's fine. I am more of a Dogs Playing Poker, so I keep it on the right-hand side of things. So, it has that kind of, it kinda looks real, kinda doesn't, it's almost kind of like a hyper-realistic, a little bit. This still sucks. So does this. These two options do not look good. That's okay. I'll fix it later. Now, once we have that set, you'll notice that there's a couple of other sections. Do you want to smooth your highlights? If you grab this and start moving it over to the right, you can start getting a little bit back of some of these details. It's basically just taking the bite out of the highlight portion of the image. You also have the option to set the White Point, the brightest portion of the image, and the Black Point, the darkest portion of the image. I tend to increase my Black Point a fair bit. I have a little bit of a Batman syndrome, so everything tends to be a little dark or moody. And Micro-smoothing. Micro-smoothing smooths out the micros. Anything that has any small portion of detail that you see inside of a picture, do you want to smooth it out? I'm like no, I want (grunts). Remember, we first started that way. So I'm gonna grab that thing and I'm gonna move it over to the left. That's the hyper-realistic RC, like the things that you see in the book and all of that kind of stuff, and I'm like, ta-da! People are like, oh my God, I love your HDRs! And I'm like, look, dude, I could tell you exactly how to do it. Do this, do this, do this, do this, do this, do this. It has nothing to do, my technique has nothing to do with that. All that is, is I'm a slider-jiggler. The technique is where you shoot, how you shoot, what you shoot, right? That's no different than the button on your camera. It's like a vivid setting. That's not technique. That's just a tool. How you use that is the most important part. I like people to know how to do this, but the application of this into something that you would do is what's important, right? Now, once this is set, you can increase your saturation, you can increase your temperature right from inside of here and your overall brightness, contrast, there's a lot of finishing things that you can do. And recently, they've added a little bit of blending back into this for individuals who use something like Photomatix as a standalone, without using Photoshop or without using Lightroom, and I think that that's a great thing for them to do. But what I'm going to do here is I'm going to go to the presets and I'm gonna save this preset and I'm gonna call it JUNK, just 'cause, I mean, that's kind of what it looked like. I'm gonna click on Save. And, Finish. It takes all of that information and as we were grabbing those sliders, I'm gonna Save and Reimport. Now here, check this out. You do have an option, right from inside of here, where you can add contrast and sharpening and cropping and you can straighten right from this, so you could open some stuff right inside of here and have it be pretty good and you don't have to necessarily do anything else.

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.