HDR: Cure to get Definition in the Shadows

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HDR an early attempt.
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                                    HDR

                                       A Cure to Get

                        Definition in The Shadows!


 

How many times have you found a location only to find that some important parts of the image are hidden in the shadows, and if you try to correct for the problem you wash out or over expose the lighter areas of the photograph? Well HDR is a solution to this problem, and it can come in handy for a lot of situations we may come across:                                                           Situations to Use HDR                               

(A)  During the times of the day when parts of the landscape or a scene are hidden in shadows, and you’d like to show more detail in those areas instead of them being blackened out or dull. This will give more detail, color, and focus to these areas. 

(B)  When shooting a building, and alley, or a tunnel; among other things, where you want to be able to see into the shadows, and/ or bring out detail in any darkened places. 

(C) Any time you want to add more depth, texture, and detail to all sorts of photographic situations whether there are Shadows or Not.

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HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and the way you achieve this is to take multiple bracketed images; one shot with the correct exposure, and two to four more with at least one under exposed, and one over exposed, and this works best if these shots are 1 1/2 to 2 stops higher or lower than the correct exposure. Now that is if you are only bracketing one over and one under exposed. I like doing five shots each one being 1/2 stop to 2 1/2 stops over and under exposed, with varying stops in between to give more variation in the detail and the color.

Then after you select the images you are going to use and open them up in programs such as Lightroom and a plug-in for Photoshop called HDR Efex Pro, and after you do some pre-HDR-generating editing in a slider window you depress the generating button, and after several minutes the compiled image appears. Waa’la, you have yourself an HDR image! From there you can post edit in your favorite editing software, and your new masterpiece is finished. 

Last I heard Nik Efex Pro collection of filters is being given away free. There are a whole host of different filter presets and programs in the Nik collection download including Efex Color Pro 4, plus more, and you can manipulate each setting to your liking. Adobe Lightroom and HDR Efex Pro 4 are mainly the two HDR filter programs I have used. I find using them an interesting and valuable tool to extend the limits of my


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Abandoned Warehouse by RR. Tracks in Keyser, using HDR editing. One of the first.
Abandoned Warehouse by RR. Tracks in Keyser, using HDR editing. One of the first.
 photographic editing workflow, and helps to produce images other wise very time consuming to do using selection and adjustment tools in Photoshop and Lightroom to achieve similar results. I believe HDR          (High Dynamic Range) renders the photograph with extra detail, color and depth not possible with the longer editing workflow’s.

 photographic editing workflow, and helps to produce images other wise very time consuming to do using selection and adjustment tools in Photoshop and Lightroom to achieve similar results. I believe HDR          (High Dynamic Range) renders the photograph with extra detail, color and depth not possible with the longer editing workflow’s.To be honest my first results may not exactly be the greatest examples of what is possible with HDR, so lookout for further articles here, and watch the photographic magazines, there are always articles that HDR is part of the subject line and will show some really good photographic examples of HDR’s benefits. 

There are many other photographic HDR producing programs for you to check out, such as HDR soft’s Photomatix Pro, which Cheyene Rouse of Ancients Lights Gallery fame used when discovering HDR for herself?. Plus, Photoshop CS 5 and Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) have HDR built right in; along with Nik’s HDR Efex Pro, EverImaging: HDR Photo Pro, Unified Color Technologies, HDR Exposure as a stand along or a plug-in for Lightroom or Apple’s Aperture. That is a lot to choose from and any of these programs will give decent results. It really comes down to preference and money, I guess. For aspiring photographers we usually operate on a shoe-string budget, and a lot of fancy editing tools, and a computer with the speed and so much memory that we can operate booque programs are just not in the cards for us.

Now back in 2010, Rob Sheppard found he liked Nik HDR Efex Pro best as he stated in his article “Special Techniques for Landscape Photographers.” I believe back then there was a fee to access the plug-in. Now a days, with it being free, I find it the way to go for any newbie, or for people looking to save money. And who doesn’t want to save $Money.

Little Over Saturated. Not Natural Looking!
Little Over Saturated. Not Natural Looking!

When I first used HDR I only had Lightroom’s program to use and found it works well, and then I heard about Nik’s HDR Efex Pro. Being Free, I wanted to check out all the filters and programs they had in the download. Efex Pro’s HDR plug-in to Photoshop has some enhancing sliders to use to generate results some what different to other programs. My first attempt at using it I probably over did the enhancements and the image (Left) isn’t exactly natural looking. With practice it gives a photo all the detail, brilliance, and vibrant color you want; and you can still keep it looking natural, and Not looking over the top visually. I recommend going easy on the pre-generating edits and at least doing a little post editing to give the photograph all the corrections and flare that it deserves. I have played with the couple HDR generators I have at my disposal, and find it does give a tool I am using more often. Through the use of the software I have made some dramatic and extra interesting photographs from ones that other wise would have been just so-so. And you can to. I am referring to ones like the photograph at the beginning of this writing (article). The tree was hidden by shadow in anything I could capture without the sky being totally washed out. 

I like giving others, that have gone before me some more exposure through my writings, and give support and credit for my findings and the claims I make in my posts. This being a learn from your peers community I will be using examples of yours, with your permission of course, in some of the posts and materials found at AdvancedCompletePhotography.com “Community of Aspiring Photographers and Artists.” 

One of the professionals I give Kudo’s to is Cheyene Rouse. I like the project she has done assembling the Ancient Lights projects. When she found HDR she made the comment “With HDR, I knew I had found a process and a program that was not only friendly, but would transform these relics of the West and render them the way I saw  each one when I was photographing them”. She made the comment in the June 2011 OutDoor Photographer magazine article “Stoking the Fire” on page #58. The Ancient Lights project depicts the culture, and the items used back in the Old West, and not so new West, shining new light on them for future generations to experience if only in their minds and the images of Cheyene Rouse.  

a1-hdr-4articles-2 Pinto Valley a1-hdr-4articlesLightroom HDR that looks very close to how I saw the scene.

This image of a pond and land in the valley across from it during  Sunrise, is an HDR I did just a few days ago, to practice getting my HDR looking more like what we’d see when being there in person. The way I achieved this was by going easy with the pre-generating editing sliders. It has a little extra green, but not unusually so. You can give your images this type of impact, too.

Try adapting High Dynamic Range (HDR) to the types of photography you think you’d benefit by applying it to. Bracket several images both at your meters correct exposure, and ones over exposed, and some under exposed, and then click on all three and hit the merge file, in Lightroom, and then HDR which will merge the images, and then an editing window will pop up and just do some minimum editing (or a lot) hit the generate HDR button, and there you’ll have it, an HDR image to be post edited in some of your normal ways. Give it a Try! 

Never be afraid to try new things! If we didn’t try new things we would have never learned to walk. One last repost of this article for the Christmas Holiday!

Merry Christmas EveryOne!  & A Happy New Year!

Hope this posts finds everyone’s heath good and strong and your spirits even stronger!

@TONY (Michael) Ballas ” title=”Scott Kelby on Lightroom: Plus an HDR section”>

tony.b@advancedcompletephotography.com

PS: I hope to do another one of these articles on HDR, and go through all the steps I had taken in generating some nice HDR photographs to show you each step. With pictures of screen shots and all.

Possibly to I may just create an E-Book of my editing technics to purchase. Let me know if this would be helpful to you?

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