November 01, 2006
Creating professional HDR images
Ryan McGinnis of Backing Winds has posted a solid intro to creating high dynamic range images in Photoshop. "Photoshop CS2 has a little-known (it seems) built-in HDR assembler," he writes, "that, while lacking the ‘make my photo look like an acid-trip‘ tone-mapping features of Photomatix, is capable of creating extremely realistic or extremely surreal HDR images." He ends up with a beautifully exposed image of the interior of a cathedral, although it would be nice to get a bit more info on how he (very capably) tone-mapped the 32-bit file down to 16bpc. [Via]
I mentioned the article to Photoshop engineer John Peterson, who worked on the Merge to HDR feature. He points out a few things:
- Instead of opening images via Camera Raw, setting their parameters, and then choosing Merge to HDR, you can simply select them in Bridge and choose Tools->Photoshop->Merge to HDR (or from within Photoshop, choose File->Automate->Merge to HDR).
- Merge to HDR and Camera RAW have a secret handshake where M2HDR tells Camera Raw to always zero out the exposure-related parameters (Exposure, Shadows, Brightness, Contrast) and guarantee linear output.
- "The alignment feature doesn’t usually work so great" — Fair enough, and we have some good ideas on how to improve it.
- "You don’t need to adjust the histogram…it has no effect on the final image" — This is true, although it does set the exposure value for the finished document.