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Reader Tutorial: Easy HDR Technique by Cristian Iancu

Big shout out to Trey Ratcliff for clearing things up for me with HDR’s--he has a great tutorial and I will always be a fan of his amazing work--to Nicalai, for taking this wonderful picture and, last but not least, to Abduzeedo for making this public. We start from this original picture, that my good friend Nicalai took on a night in Milano. First, we want to add some cool night tint to this. So, we lower the Temperature a bit, let’s say -32 and play with the other sliders as you see fit. Original Image Don’t worry about the settings, you can’t do much wrong. We’ll return to Lightroom later and correct everything that doesn’t look right. Always remember the great J key, that can show you when you are losing details in high- lights and shadows. Step 1 First of all, we start into Lightroom. I am a big fan of it. The Lightroom 3 beta is free on Adobe, so you might want to download that. It’s a great, great tool that makes your job easier. Step 2 Now export it into Photoshop. Here, don’t forget to make it 8 bits / Channel, so you can save it as a jpeg. Save this image, with your Lightroom adjustments. Step 3 Overexpose and underexpose the image by 2 points and save each version with a different name, so now you have 3 images with different exposures [+2,0,-2] Step 4 Now open Photomatix, hit Generate HDR, browse and select your 3 photos. Specify exposure manually, if Photomatix does not auto-detect it. I use these settings, but you probably shouldn’t worry about this. Step 5 Click OK and now you will see a crappy image. This is because your monitor cannot display HDR. Don’t worry about it, it’s alright. Hit the Tone Mapping button on the bottom. Now, for the settings, you should keep Strength at 100%, the Color Saturation at 40-60 [I keep it at 50 for this specific image], just try not to over-saturate the image. You can add saturation at any time later. For the Light Smoothing, it should be 4 or 5, any less will give you a very surrealistic image that is not very cool. Play with Luminosity as you see fit. Be careful about the histogram you see there, so you have it inside the frame, if it bleeds out, you’re losing light. Shout out to Trey Ratcliff for teaching me that. For the other settings, Tone, Color, Micro and S/H, play with them as your eye sees fit. There should be no right and wrong as you try not to overdo things. I usually play only with the white and black point and leave the rest on default. Hit Process and save the HDR. Step 6 Now comes the part when you have to work a little, that part where the difference is made between all those fake HDRs generated by plugins and the real thing. Bring all 4 images into Photoshop and align them on top of each other, with the HDR on top. I usually have my -2 layer under my HDR, my +2 and then my 0 in the end. I don’t think this makes a huge difference though. Step 7 Add a mask on the top layer, using that button below the Layers panel. With a 10-50 black soft brush, start painting on the layer mask, so that the -2 shines through. For this picture, paint the ground and the buildings, so you add a little more depth to the shadows. Also, if those street lights are too strong for your taste, paint on them, too. When done, just merge the 2 layers, CTRL+E, and add a mask to the new layer, that has the +2 layer beneath it. In the same way you did above, bring some highlights in now, Don’t worry about mistaking, since you are painting on a mask and you can always add back by using a white brush. If you don’t like merging the layers, create a duplicate and hide it, before merging it, just so you work non-destructively at any time. I hope this makes sense. Continue until you flatten the whole image. Now you should use a software like Noiseware Professional or the old fashioned G. Blur, cause HDR’s tend to create tons of noise. In the end, bring your picture into Lightroom again for final adjustments (maybe some exposure or tint). Conclusion If you’re still not satisfied completely, bring it again into Photoshop and do some dodging and burning with a soft low opacity brush. Or create a new layer above, set it to overlay, 30% opacity, and paint with a soft white brush for highlights and black for shadows. Let your creativity run wild now! Other Examples About the Author My name is Cristian Lancu, I am 26 and I am a designer and photographer from Bucharest, Romania. I will teach you how to create a wonderful HDR from a single photo. You can check for my portfolio and also, which is my personal blog.

Super Cool Photo Treatment in Lightroom

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a sharpness effect on your photo using lightroom, it's almost like an fake hdr effect and at the same time the result is very close to what Dave Hill gets on his photos. With the creation of hdr photos, it feels like an window was open to a new way and look on photographs, the lights and colors so bright and sharp, the result was so amazing that was hard not to fall in love when you saw some hdr photos for the first time. Hdr photo also opened the mind of thousands of photoshopers to try to recreate the same effect without the work of taking a bunch of photos with different exposures or so on. That so desired shortcut would turn your simple pictures into great photos. Well, a lot of time went by and a lot of people still experiencing with some of these effects, looking for that special recipe that can bring your work to the next level. Some artists have been using some great effects on their photos and also defined this new style of photography like the very well known Dave Hill, the guy that puts a doubt in every ones mind about how he does it. Searching for the same answers as everyone else I dug into google looking to learn more from other peoples experience and learned that only very few experiences were successful and worth a try. The best way to approach this was told by Scott Kelby and here I will share with you the experience I had by following his steps. First thing you going to need is Adobe Lightroom, if you don't have it don't hesitate to download a 30 day trial here. We are not going to go dept into lightroom, just the basic knowledge we need to pull up this effect but if you look around and start playing you will notice that it isn't that hard to get around this software. Our first step is to open Lighroom and import the photo you want to work on, I am going to use one of my own photos that I took in NYC a couple years ago. Click on the images for a bigger view Now we are going to change to Develop mode so we can start working on our photo, we only going to work with the Basics. It’s important to realize there is no perfect recipe, you have to feel the changes as you make it to get a better result out of it. The first change we are going to make is to bring Recovery all the way to 100. Our next step we will bring the Fill Light up, but when we do that the photo gets really light and we have to use Blacks to make the photo look normal again. So you have to have in mind that as much Fill Light you put you have to always follow with Blacks, so you will decide how much of a light or a dark look you photo will have, I personally like to bring up Fill light until a point that it’s not making the photo look all white and follow with Blacks with only half of the number of Fill Light. In this case I will use Fill Light 80 and Blacks 40 (don’t hesitate to experience other settings) Our next step is to bring the Clarity up to +100 And now we are going to give more Vibrance to the photo but we don’t want to get way to vibrant because that will make you lose some of the lights on the photo so I bring the Vibrance to +70 (This is something that will change depending on the photo you working on so you need to get a good feeling of how vibrant you want it to be) For our final touch we will desaturate the photo just enough so it will still have color and that desaturated feeling to it as well, so depending on how much Vibrance you apply you may have to apply less saturation to get the right look. Set the Saturation to -60. Depending on the photo you may have to change up a bit as I said before but the steps are very simple and here you can take a look on the before and after result. Here is the final result: Click on the Image to compare the final result with the original. Other samples using the same effect. Click on the Image to compare the final result with the original. Click on the Image to compare the final result with the original. Click on the Image to compare the final result with the original.