Free Photography Tutorials, Beginners to Advanced

HDR using Photomatix - Page 4

by Honez

The 'S/H' tab refers to Shadows and Highlights. 'Highlight Smoothing' controls contrast for the highlights in the image. This slider also affects the amount of annoying halos that can creep in, which fringe dark objects against lighter backgrounds. In fact a lot of sliders affect how bad the halo level is, but this slider and 'Strength' tend to be the two biggest offenders. In my opinion, nothing flags an HDR newbie more than haloing, myself included.

'Shadows Smoothing' and 'Shadows Clipping' affect the contrast of the shadows in the image and how deep and dark they look.

If I wanted to I could save these settings as a preset to use on other images. I tend not to, because I find that each image is unique. What works for one, doesn't necessarily work for another and, in some cases, makes them look awful. I always start off with the default values and go from there.

Up to this point all changes have been affected in the preview window only, clicking on 'Process' applies the settings to the real 32 bit HDR image, and allows you to save it.

I usually load the resulting TIFF file into Photoshop for cropping and some more tweaking before I can put it down and leave it alone.

And after all that, this is the final result.

HDR finished image

I think HDR processing definitely lends itself to landscape photography, in fact anything with a cloudy sky looks great, it also looks good on anything that's shiny or metallic. I just love the added depth and overall pizzaz it gives to most still life shots, but like any digital manipulation it's very easy to overdo. I've been guilty of this in the past, and probably will be in the future too. But, like they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so as long as you think it looks good, go for it. Just watch out for those halos.

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You can get a 15% discount on Photomatix Pro software. Just put 'GeoffLawrence' (without the quotes) into the coupon box when you make your purchase. There is also a free trial version that you can download on their website.

Other tutorials in this section

Photo Editing

Introduction page.

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Scaling your files.

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Balancing those pixels.

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Dealing with color casts.

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Processing RAW Files

An introduction to Adobe Camera RAW.

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Processing RAW Files using HSL

Advanced use of Adobe Camera RAW.

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Using the unsharp mask.

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Using the Quick Mask

Masking parts of your picture to edit certain areas.

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Adjustment Layer Masks

How to build accurate layer masks.

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Straightening Horizons

A must for landscape and building photographers.

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Replacing Boring Skies

Using layers in Photoshop.

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Using the Channel Mixer

How to make a better job of changing images from color to black & white.

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Using Curves on Adjustment Layers

Playing with contrast and tones to give a more dramatic effect.

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High Dynamic Range

How to shoot and process HDR pictures with Photomatix Pro software.

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