Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Fake HDR

Ever wondered how some photographs look POW, unbelievable colour with great detail in both shadows and highlights. Ever thought WOW how do they get pictures like that? Well you too can put the POW and WOW into your images.
Look at the image below this is Selby North Yorkshire UK. It's where I live:

Now look at the same image after I processed it in Photoshop:

Bit of a difference don't you think. Look what happens when you turn the above image black and white:

Pretty dramatic eh? 
If you have photoshop you can do this too. It doesn't always work I think you need a decent exposure to start with, but it is worth giving it a go as it may make a huge difference to your image.
For those who do not know what HDR stands for well it's High Dynamic Range.
The usual process involves taking three images using a tripod, one with a correct exposure one underexposed by a stop and one overexposed by a stop. The three images can then be merged to make a HDR image. This is ok if the image does not move like a landscape but no good if it's a bird or insect etc..
The above images were done using one image and faking HDR using Layers in photoshop.
How do you do it? ah well it is easier than you think, you just need to know a little bit about the layers pallet.
It is best to do this process with raw or tiff files as they hold more detail but it does work with jpg's too.

1. Open image in photoshop
2. go to layer - duplicate layer - press ok ( you will notice a background copy in your layers pallet bottom right )
ok now the magic part!
3. Go to image - adjustments - shadow/highlights
4. This opens a box: now at the top where it says shadows leave the Amount at 50, 
    change the Tonal Width to 45 and the Radius to 40.
5. In the Highlight section change the Amount to 85
   The Tonal Width to 75 and the Radius to 1120. Yes that is not a typo 1120
Leave the adjustment section alone and press ok. Ignore the fact that your image in view may look awful
it does get better, TRUST ME.
6. In the layers pallet bottom right. Click on the background layer not the background copy you will recognise it as it has a lock symbol. Once selected it will change blue.
7 Once selected go to layer - duplicate layer - press ok
8. You will now notice three layers in the layers pallet (bottom right)
9. Now you have to select the middle layer Background copy 2 click and hold then drag it up so as it is above the Background copy thus placing it on top. Hope this makes sense.
10. In the Layers pallet (bottom right) you will see a box that says Normal in it. Click on the drop down arrows and select SOFT LIGHT.
11. Finally go to layer-merge visible you now have one HDR image

You may need to alter the brightness etc.. using levels or curves till you get the effect you like but that is how the effect is done. Turn it black and white see what it looks like in mono you might like the effect more than the colour one. Remember though it won't work on all your images but should work on your landscapes and building shots. 
I hope you understand the instructions if you have any problems let me know. If you do not have photoshop but use different software let me know what you use you may still be able to do it if your software includes layers.


Montanagirl said...

Wow, what a difference it made! The photo is dramatically improved. Very nice Photoshopping.

parker said...

What a very informative post! Some of us who doesn't have photoshop yet will definately take the challange and ask Why Not ?

Thank you for visiting " Shutterbugs Capturing The World Around Us ". We are a group of photographers of varying degrees of expertise, with one purpose. To have fun taking photos,present a vast array of interests, to help each other or anyone with interests of becoming a better photograper and always take " Photos Of Opportunity"

Paul said...

Thank you for the invitation you left at the blogsite "Shutterbugs Capruting The World Around Us" to have a look at this blogsite.

Your detailed instructions for Fake HDR blog are nicely presented. Though I have an older version of Photoshop I was able to blunder my way through using your instructions and layers to improve several test images.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the detailed tutorial. I use Lightroom and really enjoy what it can do. The trick I find is not to go overboard, as sometimes my pictures look a bit over processed. Love your blog and shall be visiting often!

Valerie said...

I definitely intend to have a go at this, following your instructions of course.

S. Etole said...

I appreciate your visit and this tutorial. Is it possible to do this in Elements as well?

Sandra said...

thank you so much for the intstructions, i have printed them and will try this and let you know how it comems out. I am learning PS 7 and know what it will do but not how. thanks again

Nancy said...

I am so glad I found your blog....I have just started working with Photoshop and your post today is so helpful....Thanks

I'll definitely be back...

Elaine said...

You certainly took an okay photo and made it pop. I am definitely going to try this. Your instructions look very easy to follow, so hopefully I won't get lost. If I do I will holler for help.

Sandra said...

Hi, i just tried this and in my PS 7 I have not shadows/highlights in my adjustment pick list. maybe it is hidden somewhere? i did play with soft light and changed it somewhat by fiddling.