Dramatize Photos — Give Them the HDR Look
Add Punch to Your Photos — Use Our Photoshop HDR Tutorial
HDR is a very popular style of modern photography today. For a photographer, High Dynamic Range Imaging (HDRI) is the process of shooting a number of exposures and merging them together into one image. Take a shot with normal exposure, then an underexposed shot, then an over-exposed shot that captures shadow details. Finally, merge the three photos together to create your single HDR image, highlighting the elements that make HDR photography so unique and beautiful.
Technically, HDRI is an imaging technology developed to capture the entire range of light present in a scene. It can far surpass the dynamic range restrictions of traditional chemical and digital photography. Adobe Photoshop (or other specialized tone mapping software) is used to compress the greater tonal range of HDR images into a range that can be displayed dynamically on conventional monitors, tablets, and smartphones.
To create successful HDR images, it takes a good photographer, experienced with photo editing software such as Photoshop. However, if you're not a photographer, but you want to give photos the HDR look, Warren Camp provides tips, techniques, and a tutorial below — with before and after images — to show you how to develop your own faux-HDR images using a single photo and Photoshop.
LOWLow-dynamic range sample: Has a cloudy-hazy sky with no definition; balance of image is without intensely bright or dark spots.
Photo credit: [a href="http://junebugweddings.com/wedding-photo-blog/photobug/stunning-couple-portraiture-dt-studio-croatia-wedding-photographers/" target="_blank"]Junebug Weddings[/a]
MEDIUMMedium-dynamic range sample: Has a front-lit subject and a nondistinctive background; overall image has moderate contrast.
Photo credit: [a href="http://hdwallpapers.cat/bear_cyclist_tricycle_grizzly_bike_abstract_hd-wallpaper-434855/" target="_blank"]HDwallpapers.cat[/a]
Thankfully, any image can be tone mapped, even single low-dynamic-range (LDR) shots, so it's a matter of taste. Warning: Not every situation benefits from HDR shooting. It's almost impossible to add HDR to scenes with a lot of movement!
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Warren's "HDR How-To Steps" Using Photoshop
This tutorial is suitable for intermediate/advanced users of Photoshop CS5 and newer.
- First step Open the photo to which you want to give an "HDR" look. Edit it as you normally would do, e.g., adjust its levels, color, vibrance, shadows/highlights, and so on.
- Second step If your photo is an extremely high-quality one with little-to-no noise, consider applying the Unsharp Mask filter using 90% and 7 pixels settings, which can help create an HDR-type feel. Note: On noisy, action-packed photos, this step might not work.
- Duplicate the layer To this layer, do the following: Desaturate it; equalize it; and apply a Gaussian Blur using a 10- to 20-pixel radius.
- Set the blend mode of this layer to Overlay With some photos, a Color Burn blend mode might make some elements (e.g., the sky Original photo by Lucas Gilman, trees Original photo by Martha Olsen., multicolored elements Photo source: [a href="https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=hot-air%20balloons&term_meta%5B%5D=hot-air%7Ctyped&term_meta%5B%5D=balloons%7Ctyped" target="_blank"]Pinterest.com[/a], or ocean waves Photo credit: "The Wedge" by [a href="https://500px.com/davidorias" target="_blank"]David Orias[/a]) pop. Use a layer mask to clean up any areas that look messy. In most cases, Overlay produces a sensational effect, however, try the more intense Color or Linear Burn modes or possibly the Soft Light mode.
- Flatten your image then duplicate it Apply a Gaussian Blur pixel radius of 10 to 20 to this layer. Then change the layer's blend mode to Darken, and lower its opacity to 40 percent or so.
- Flatten again and Equalize your image If desired, experiment with Fade Equalize blend-mode levels. Then try setting the mode to Overlay, which hits hard at adding HDR drama.
- Sharpen Edges if desired This is especially effective with photos of building exteriors Photo credit: "Empire State Building (HDR) by Eric Kilby from [a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Empire_State_Building_(HDR).jpg" target="_blank"]WikimediaCommons[/a], flowers and leaves Photo source: [a href="http://pixdaus.com/butchart-gardens-stairway-by-john-r-rogers-flowers-garden-st/items/view/233183/" target="_blank"]pixdaus.com[/a], waves on water Photo credit: Andrés Nieto Porras on [a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/5198845213/" target="_blank"]Flickr[/a], and so on. However, be careful to never oversharpen people's faces Photo source: [a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWXGFhTHv5Q" target="_blank"]Blue Lightening TV[/a]!
Dramatic Effects — "High Dynamic Range"
Following Warren's "how-to" steps above, here's a stunning HDR-effect sample!
You may download a jumbo of this HDR "Rainbow Wave" image: Click here.
Here's another of Warren's impressive HDR-effect samples that he made following his tutorial.
To download a jumbo of this HDR "Beach Sunset" image, click here.
Here They Are!
Warren Camp has divided his collection of faux-HDR-effect photos into three categories.
Photos in each category have undergone different HDR styling efforts.
Check out all three HDR "before and after" pages!
— Page 1 —
Evening at Big Sur
— Page 2 —
Well-lit living room
— Page 3 —
Billy Graham portrait