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Hand blending with luminosity masks

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Old 06-09-2012, 06:34 PM
santoro80 santoro80 is offline
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Hand blending with luminosity masks

This guy uses hand blending exposures using luminosity masks. I am wondering what advantages has this over HDR tone mapping.
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:00 PM
redcrown redcrown is offline
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Re: Hand blending with luminosity masks

Well, the link is just a teaser video to sell the real stuff which I didn't buy. But with experience in both HDR and luminosity mask blending, I"d say neither has a significant advantage over the other, but each generates quite different results. So it becomes a matter of taste.

Luminosity mask blending of a bracketed set of exposures is difficult and time consuming, but the resulting initial blend contains pixels all from original exposures, so the quality may be higher. Less noise, banding, or other nasty artifacts that HDR.

HDR blending and tonemapping is simpler and faster, once you get past the learning curve of whatever program you use. But in spite of the numerous controls HDR programs offer, most of the decision making is done by the program, using whatever proprietary logic it contains. And the resulting pixels are all "artifical", resulting from calculations on originals. Sometimes ugly stuff shows up, usually in the shadows.

The tonemapping of most HDR programs is content dependent. How a shadow or highlight gets treated is dependent on its relation to nearby tones. For example, a highlight in one area of an image may be "mapped" quite differently than an identical highlight in another area, if the first highlight is surrounded by shadows and the second is not.

That's not the case with luminosity map blending. You have full control and get to chose how each tonal area gets blended. Shadows retain the quality of the best exposure bracket used. Of course, if you start hammering the base blend with Levels, Curves, Hue/Sat adjustment layers you can introduce the same ugly stuff that an HDR program might generate.

Like many, I expect, I suffer the "paralysis of analysis." When you have 18 different ways to do the job, it becomes difficult to decide which is best. And no two people will make the same decision.

For me, this problem just got worse with the recent discovery that the new "Process 2012" tone controls in Adobe's ACR 7.1 and Lightroom 4.1 can be used to "tonemap" a 32bit HDR file. Been playing with that for a few days and finding some very interesting results.
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Old 06-10-2012, 07:27 AM
creativeretouch creativeretouch is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2010
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Re: Hand blending with luminosity masks

Personally, I don't like HDR as I don't like artefacts coming with this technique.

Yes, the manual control over tones with new ACR is great but I would still use luminosity masks for final "fine" tuning in some cases. Photographs adjusted with luminosity masks look more natural and are much nicer - in my opinion.

Regards, Filip

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