Category Archives: HDR

Enhancing Details with Adobe Camera Raw

You can use the Details tab in the Adobe Camera Raw dialog to really enhance your photos.  This works great if you’d like to create custom settings for your raw files before you run the HDR or Photomerge commands. The Detail tab offers precise control over both sharpening an image as well as reducing noise.  All raw images will need some sharpening.  Noise on the other hand may not appear unless the image was shot with a high ISO setting or under low light.

1.  Open a raw image with Adobe Photoshop.  The Camera raw dialog will open.

2. Double-click the Zoom tool in the top toolbar to switch to 100% magnification.It’s easier to accurately judge both sharpening and noise at a 100% view.

3.  Click the Details tab. In the Detail tab, you can adjust sharpening to bring out fine image details.

  • Amount – Increases definition at the edges of an image.  Use a lower amount for a cleaner image. When you open the file, Camera Raw plug-in calculates the settings to use based on camera model, ISO, and exposure compensation.
  • Radius Use a low number for fine detail and a higher number if the photo lacks much detail.
  • Detail Controls how much high-frequency information is sharpened in the image and how the edges are emphasized.
  • Masking – This controls the edge of the mask.  Using a value of zero means that everything receives the same amount of sharpening.  A higher number will limit the sharpening to those areas near the strongest edges.

An easy way to tell how much masking to use is to hold down the Option (Alt) key while dragging.  White areas will be sharpened while black areas are ignored (masked).  Try this out, hold down the Option (Alt) key and drag slowly to the right.  A value of 50 seems to be the right balance for this image.

4. Noise reduction controls let you remove extra grain from the image.

  • Luminance – Reduces luminance noise. Set this to 10 for this image (it’s not very noisy).
  • Luminance Detail – This sets a threshold for the noise reduction. Higher values preserve detail but can produce noisier results. Lower values tend to produce cleaner results but likely remove some detail.
  • Luminance Contrast – This option works best for very noisy photos.
  • Color – Reduces color noise.
  • Color Detail – Use a higher value to protect detailed edges.  A lower value preserves more color, but can result in color bleeding.

5.   Toggle the check box for Preview to see the before and after states.

Washington, DC at Night (Time-lapse + HDR Toning)

At Triple Exposure, we always love to see great examples of time-lapse.  What’s even cooler though is when the author uses HDR toning to really make their images. pop!  Have a look at some great shots.

[vimeo w=640&h=360]
 By Drew Geraci
“This piece is all about DC at dusk and night — concentrating on the monuments and historical buildings on the mall. During the making of this time-lapse, I was hassled/stopped 27 times by DC police and received 5 parking tickets. That’s pretty much how it goes in DC.
With help from my buddy Drew Breese, Russ Scalf, and a few unnamed sources we were able to complete this production… even if it was slightly behind schedule. It took nearly 3 months to film the sunsets — since DC weather isn’t always the best.
For the production, I used a combination of standard frames, tone-mapping, and traditional HDR (on a few shots). It’s quite the mixture.”
Processed with: 
  •  Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 II
  • Canon 50mm f/1.4
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II
  • Dynamic Perception Stage Zero

Processed with: 

  •  Adobe After Effects CS5.5
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Mixing Panoramic & HDR Photography

Sometimes you just have to make lemons into lemon-aide – or at least try.

A few years ago I was in Alaska photographing bears. We moved our boat into Geographic Harbor for a few hours and of course, when we got there the weather was horrid. I made the image immediately below because I was there, not because I liked it.

There’s not much I like about it other than it provides me with a personal memory of my time in Alaska that year. But when I was shooting this location I knew this would happen. So I made several exposures and decided to combine panoramic photography and HDR photography to see if I could salvage something.

Here’s a link to a large version of the result. It’s not the best image I ever made, but it isn’t as horrible as it was when I just made one shot.

I made four shots – two exposures each – and merged them in a combination of Photoshop and Nik HDR Efex Pro. I then added some effects in onOne’s new Perfect Photo Suite. I still don’t love it but that’s not the point. The point is that thanks to technologies like panoramic stitching and HDR tone mapping – once in a while we can save a shot that otherwise wouldn’t make the grade.

HDR Toning Images for Texture and Tone

©Richard Harrington

Using HDR techniques to enhance the details of a single exposure shot in low-light.

[vimeo w=640&h=360]

A Secret Use For HDR Photography

Copyright Scott Bourne 2011 - All Rights Reserved

The image above doesn’t really have that “HDR” look. But it does show a lot of detail. And that’s the secret use for HDR Photography. I call it detail HDR or mild HDR. The point of this is that you don’t need to use this technology to make the traditional HDR photo. You can modify its application and just use it on a portion of the image to bring out detail. Think of it as a new sharpening method.

In the photo used to illustrate this post, I applied HDR techniques to the car in order to bring out mild details. I did this on a layer in Photoshop and then masked out the car and erased everything else. The result is the background doesn’t get “sharpened” and the car pops out on the page – which is what I want since the photo is supposed to be about the car, not all the stuff behind it.

Give this a try. Shoot an HDR. Using your preferred post-processing tone-mapping software, apply a mild amount of correction. Drop this onto a layer. Mask out the areas where you don’t want the effect. Paint them out and you’re done.


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