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HDR, Panoramas and Tone Mapping Merging several different exposures into a single image

Realistic "HDR" blending in Photoshop

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  #21  
Old 12-20-2010, 04:39 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: Realistic "HDR" blending in Photoshop

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Originally Posted by DSutherland View Post
Hi Murray,

Could you post examples of what you came up with? I'm curious to see them. I'll also add that I don't use CS5's new merge to HDR feature, I just blend using masks and other techniques...I normally default to the "blend by hand" phrase.
Darren, attached are the 1st two sets of compares between CS5 and Photomatix and the 3rd set will follow in the next post (limit is 5 attachments per post).
The most challenging areas in any merge / fusion are the highlights. Here PS fails miserably. In almost 100% of my tests on several hundred images, CS5 performed very poorly in the highlights. Most of the time they contain blown out areas which are not easily recoverable or in some cases creates some nasty posterization effects as you will see in the 3rd image.
The other thing I find with CS5 is that it does not bring out the shadow detail well. These can be boosted usually with the standard set of tools like exposure, Shadow Highlight, etc.

The image sets are default settings from both programs with no adjustments.
In image 1 see the difference in the white stone, and the gold spikes.
In image 2 see the details in the windows and stone.
In image 3 look at the sky that surrounds the model's head and look at the bird in the sky..

As for termonology, unfortunately HDR has become synonomous with something it was never intended to be. Somewhere along the timeline people distorted the the ability to capture fine detail from deep shadow to high highlight with excessive saturation, contrast inversions, high microcontrast contrast and a touch of surrealism.

I have been benchmarking a number of HDR s/w products. I think Photoshop is way back in the pack right now.

The attachments are screenshots of sections of very large files.

Regards, Murray
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Photoshop1.jpg (170.0 KB, 42 views)
File Type: jpg Photomatix1.jpg (161.9 KB, 43 views)
File Type: jpg Photoshop2.jpg (178.2 KB, 38 views)
File Type: jpg Photomatix2.jpg (178.3 KB, 39 views)

Last edited by mistermonday; 12-30-2010 at 11:20 AM. Reason: Typo
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  #22  
Old 12-20-2010, 04:40 PM
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mistermonday mistermonday is offline
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Re: Realistic "HDR" blending in Photoshop

This is a continuation of the previous post. Attached is the 3rd set of images.
Regards, Murray
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Photoshop3.jpg (181.0 KB, 30 views)
File Type: jpg Photomatix3.jpg (167.9 KB, 29 views)
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  #23  
Old 12-20-2010, 05:50 PM
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DSutherland DSutherland is offline
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Re: Realistic "HDR" blending in Photoshop

Hi Murray, thanks for providing the examples. It's interesting to see how the automatic programs/tools have developed (back when I tested Photomatix a year or two ago I highly doubt it would have given the same results just off of the default settings).
It may be a matter of preference but I'm still not convinced that an automated program like Photomatix, Enfuse, Tufuse, CS5's Merge to HDR, or etc is the best tool to create the realistic "HDR" look. Sometimes you might find yourself in a situation like the image attached and ultimately you will need to bring it into Photoshop to fix (unless Photomatix made some changes I didn't hear about over the last 6 months). To add to it (I think I've said this before), if you have a client who asks for a lot of specifics that need to be done to an image, beyond just exposure blending, then I don't see Photomatix working out at all.
For something that's quick, very user friendly, and gives you a pretty decent result for personal use then I agree that Photomatix is great for all of the average hobbyists out there but I still couldn't justify it's results and limitations to use it as a pro tool.
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File Type: jpg 3920340127_563d0fd92b.jpg (91.0 KB, 39 views)
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  #24  
Old 12-20-2010, 08:45 PM
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Re: Realistic "HDR" blending in Photoshop

Darren, the latest version of Photomatix has come a long way in the past year. I find that setting it up to do a merge and tonemap from32 to 16 bit without adding Inversion Light Smoothing or other adjustments, that the software does an excellent job at capturing the full dynamic range of the bracketed set. It does this almost 100% of the time. The natural controls like luminance allow fine tuning. From here Photomatix opens the image in Photoshop where I can finish any special processing. For the 95% of the time where is does a superb job of merging / fusion, it saves me a ton of time stacking original files and masking parts of all the layers in manually. For the rare time where the program is stumped, I can bring in one of the original RAW files to blend in a problem area.
What's the downside, you might ask? While Photomatix has beaten every other HDR s/w I have tried at merging, it's weakness is supressing the noise (remove noise option unchecked). The Remove Noise option and sliders do work but there is no way to preview it so sometimes I apply too much or too little a level. I need to play with it more.
Regards, Murray
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  #25  
Old 12-30-2010, 02:47 PM
creativeretouch creativeretouch is offline
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Re: Realistic "HDR" blending in Photoshop

A some time ago I went across this tutorial:
http://backingwinds.blogspot.com/200...dr-images.html

As I have a lot of single shot images without different exposures in my archive I do not use this technique (it does not work well if you try to create new exposures from original one) but I would like to know what you think of it. There is an interesting part where after the command "Merge to HDR" in Photoshop you need to make adjustments during conversion from a 32 bit file to a 16 bit file. It looks like a way to deal (nondestructive) with bright lights and final tones of the image.
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  #26  
Old 12-30-2010, 06:30 PM
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Re: Realistic "HDR" blending in Photoshop

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Originally Posted by creativeretouch View Post
A some time ago I went across this tutorial:
http://backingwinds.blogspot.com/200...dr-images.html

As I have a lot of single shot images without different exposures in my archive I do not use this technique (it does not work well if you try to create new exposures from original one) but I would like to know what you think of it. There is an interesting part where after the command "Merge to HDR" in Photoshop you need to make adjustments during conversion from a 32 bit file to a 16 bit file. It looks like a way to deal (nondestructive) with bright lights and final tones of the image.
That blog posting was from 2006 and the process was the predecessor of what is now called Merge To HDRPro in CS5. Both the merging of the source files and the tone mapping from 32 bit to 16 bit are done in the same module and now there are a whole bunch of sliders to adjust the strength, exposure, gamma, etc.

As far as merging images to HDR, Photoshop has some ways to go to be as good as the leading 3rd party HDR applications and plugins. As indicated above, it seems weak in retaining highlight detail and bring out shadow detail. However, this may be just my experiences.

Regards, Murray

Last edited by mistermonday; 12-30-2010 at 09:09 PM.
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  #27  
Old 12-31-2010, 01:43 AM
creativeretouch creativeretouch is offline
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Re: Realistic "HDR" blending in Photoshop

Thanx Murray ...
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