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09-27-2012, 05:21 PM   #16
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Thanks for all the tips! I am just starting to try HDR with my K-r; I think I'll download Photomatix (can download a free 30 day trial) and give that a try. Looking over the Photomatix website, I'm not sure I see the need for the Pro version - Essentials would seem sufficient. Anyone disagree with this?

jeff

09-27-2012, 08:05 PM - 4 Likes   #17
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Simple Steps To HDR Happiness

First, to do good quality HDR you must have a tripod! It's extremely important that when you shoot multiple frames that the images be exactly aligned, and only a tripod can give you that.

Second, you have to be careful about what you shoot. Because you are taking at least three frames and perhaps as many as ten, anything that is moving will appear multiple times in the final merged image. Some things, like people, can be edited-out by the "anti-ghosting" features of most HDR software, but others, like leaves on a tree, can't. If it's windy and you are shooting any foliage the leaves and swaying branches will look blurry.

Third, get to know the bracketing settings on your K-5! You select bracketing mode in the "Drive" menu using the top button of the rear 4-way selector. Read the sections on exposure bracketing in your user manual. It's also a good idea to use a remote to trigger the shutter, just to keep the amount of vibration down, but that's not critical.

Fourth, take a lot of brackets! I go really nuts and shoot a five or ten frame bracket set at a half-dozen aperture settings. Remember when shooting brackets you want your aperture to be constant - so set the camera to AV mode and select your f-stop and let the camer select the shutter speed.

Fifth, if you process your shots in a program like Lightroom, don't mess with the contrast or exposure levels! This is very important because your HDR software will be setting these when it merges the frames. If you want to do a little noise clean-up or sharpening that's okay, but keep it minimal - it's best to do most fix-up processing after you have the final HDR image.

Sixth, Do use HDR software like Photomatix Pro! The HDR tools in PhotoShop, Paintshop Pro, etc are junk! and will not give you the kind of image you are imagining when you think "HDR". There is no science to using an HDR app - it's one of those things you just have to learn by trial and error, and the settings used vary from photo-to-photo and photographer-to-photographer. Don't be afraid to play and make multiple versions of an image to see where the controls in the software can take your images. Remember that your monitor cannot display images in 16-bit color, so what you are seeing when you work with the software is not what the final image will look like when you take it to 8-bits.

Seventh, save your merged HDR images as 16-bit .TIFF files and then import them into Lightroom or another program to do final processing - thats where I do cropping, sharpening, color adjustments, etc.

Be patient and give yourself time to learn the quirks of the HDR process, and after a bit of practice you will get control of it and be making images the way you imagine them looking. A great book is "HDR Photography For Dummies" if you want to get into the real details of shooting bracket sets and using programs like Photomatix Pro - you can find it used on Amazon or EBay - I highly recommend it when starting out with HDR.
10-01-2012, 08:47 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by lammie200 Quote
This how I think about in camera HDR +tripod. I think that hand holding is near impossible, but I would like to be proven wrong.
For in-camera HDR I cannot comment, as I have never owned a camera that offered that option. For a software solution to hand-held HDR, I have found Photoacute to be a very effective software solution with very good results with well exposed raw images.
10-02-2012, 08:19 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by ENicolas Quote
Seventh, save your merged HDR images as 16-bit .TIFF files and then import them into Lightroom or another program to do final processing - thats where I do cropping, sharpening, color adjustments, etc.

Be patient and give yourself time to learn the quirks of the HDR process, and after a bit of practice you will get control of it and be making images the way you imagine them looking. A great book is "HDR Photography For Dummies" if you want to get into the real details of shooting bracket sets and using programs like Photomatix Pro - you can find it used on Amazon or EBay - I highly recommend it when starting out with HDR.
Excellent advice from ENicolas. The seventh point is really important. Once you have it tone mapped in Photomatix Pro, you are nowhere near finished: your HDR probably will look flat. You will need to add contrast, especially. For further processing, I usually head for Topaz Adjust 5. That software can make even HDRs coming out of Photoshop CS4 look excellent. BTW, you WILL overcook your images for a while, and you will think they are superb. A year or so later, you will look at your early attempts with a sheepish grin. These are stages we all go through. HDR is an art form, so you have to work hard at it, and develop personally with your passion. Good luck.

10-03-2012, 05:05 AM   #20
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The problem with Topaz Adjust is that all of the presets are hideously overwrought, even the ones which are supposedly subtle. It can be a useful tool, but be prepared to really dial back the presets or liberally blend your output layer back to your original unless you are looking for a gaudy mess. Topaz is probably responsible for 90+% of the truly crap HDR out there (and let's be honest, the vast majority of HDR is crap).

In my opinion, the Nik Software series of plugins is far superior to Topaz. Of course there are also far more options to explore with Nik, so there is a bit more of a learning curve.


QuoteOriginally posted by snofox Quote
Excellent advice from ENicolas. The seventh point is really important. Once you have it tone mapped in Photomatix Pro, you are nowhere near finished: your HDR probably will look flat. You will need to add contrast, especially. For further processing, I usually head for Topaz Adjust 5. That software can make even HDRs coming out of Photoshop CS4 look excellent. BTW, you WILL overcook your images for a while, and you will think they are superb. A year or so later, you will look at your early attempts with a sheepish grin. These are stages we all go through. HDR is an art form, so you have to work hard at it, and develop personally with your passion. Good luck.
10-03-2012, 04:52 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
The problem with Topaz Adjust is that all of the presets are hideously overwrought, even the ones which are supposedly subtle. It can be a useful tool, but be prepared to really dial back the presets or liberally blend your output layer back to your original unless you are looking for a gaudy mess. Topaz is probably responsible for 90+% of the truly crap HDR out there (and let's be honest, the vast majority of HDR is crap).

In my opinion, the Nik Software series of plugins is far superior to Topaz. Of course there are also far more options to explore with Nik, so there is a bit more of a learning curve.
There's no accounting for taste, I suppose.
10-03-2012, 09:18 PM   #22
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Look at this feed on flickr: topaz adjust - Flickr: Search

Scan few of the images benefit at all from the use of Topaz. The rest are the photographic equivalent of "Velvet Elvis" paintings.

QuoteOriginally posted by snofox Quote
There's no accounting for taste, I suppose.
10-04-2012, 03:44 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
Look at this feed on flickr: topaz adjust - Flickr: Search

Scan few of the images benefit at all from the use of Topaz. The rest are the photographic equivalent of "Velvet Elvis" paintings.
On the other hand you might want to check out Concepcion's work, or Sammons' or Harold Davis'. Not all violin players make beautiful music, and I can direct you to far more incompetent, screeching practitioners of that art than to really good or excellent ones. It's the same for anything that requires talent, hard work and practice. By dwelling on the worst of any genre you prevent yourself from seeing anything of value.

10-04-2012, 04:02 PM   #24
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And if you actually had taken the time to read my initial message you will see that I am talking about the presets that 90% of the people who use Topaz will never deviate from. Yet your response was "there is no accounting for taste." But guess what? It takes ABSOLUTELY NO TASTE OR ARTISTRYto simply run your image through a preset and say "nyuck, nyuck, look at the HDR!" The Topaz presets are absolutely horrible. That is why people who are serious about HDR don't use them.

You will also see that I said in the same message that Topaz can be a useful tool. But the vast majority of the people who use it simply have no clue (nor inclination to learn) how to unlock its potential. So they just go ahead and apply the presets, which purposely exaggerate their effect so lowest common denominator users perceive that the plugin is "doing something"

If you know anything about music recording, the situation is almost exactly the same for ProTools, which is the ubiquitous recording solution in most professional studios. The ProTools recording presets are massively overcompressed and in-your-face. Not coincidentally, most of the garbage that pop music these days is recorded using these presets. Why? Because the "artists" and "technicians" doing the recordings have no understanding of nuance and simply assume that loud is good.


QuoteOriginally posted by snofox Quote
On the other hand you might want to check out Concepcion's work, or Sammons' or Harold Davis'. Not all violin players make beautiful music, and I can direct you to far more incompetent, screeching practitioners of that art than to really good or excellent ones. It's the same for anything that requires talent, hard work and practice. By dwelling on the worst of any genre you prevent yourself from seeing anything of value.
10-04-2012, 08:55 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
and if you actually had taken the time to read my initial message you will see that i am talking about the presets that 90% of the people who use topaz will never deviate from. Yet your response was "there is no accounting for taste." but guess what? It takes absolutely no taste or artistryto simply run your image through a preset and say "nyuck, nyuck, look at the hdr!" the topaz presets are absolutely horrible. That is why people who are serious about hdr don't use them.

you will also see that i said in the same message that topaz can be a useful tool. But the vast majority of the people who use it simply have no clue (nor inclination to learn) how to unlock its potential. So they just go ahead and apply the presets, which purposely exaggerate their effect so lowest common denominator users perceive that the plugin is "doing something"

if you know anything about music recording, the situation is almost exactly the same for protools, which is the ubiquitous recording solution in most professional studios. The protools recording presets are massively overcompressed and in-your-face. Not coincidentally, most of the garbage that pop music these days is recorded using these presets. Why? Because the "artists" and "technicians" doing the recordings have no understanding of nuance and simply assume that loud is good.
harrumph!
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