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View Full Version : 1st Time HDR - Advice Wanted Please


Zuiko
24th March 2008, 08:55 PM
I took six exposures of this scene yesterday, ranging from +1 to -1.5 stops and used them for my first tone mapped HDR image, using trial version of Photomatix. I'm generally pleased with it, as a first attempt, but am concerned about the halo effect around the trees in the background.

I would really appreciate advice on how I might have avoided this, plus any other improvements I could make when tone mapping this image. Is there any software better than Photomatix? I haven't bought it yet, it's still on trial.

Thank you.

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/Hatfield_ForestAnd5More_tonemapped.jpg

Zuiko

ravenblack
24th March 2008, 09:05 PM
I think this is quite a nice shot. The saturation appears well balanced with the highlights of the snow. I would question the 'halo' effect around the sky etc.
But otherwise an excellent try, better than some of my efforts to date!

PeterD
24th March 2008, 10:03 PM
Zuiko,

I like this image a lot. It has none of the harshness which would have been well out of place in such a tranquel setting. It does have the feel of depth that HDR seems to introduce to an image. The colours are nicely balanced and simple composition. For a first time HDR I think this is really good. Well done. Its so easy to get carried away but you clearly knew how far to go. As for the halo, others will tell you about this but I don't think it detracts too much from the image.

PeterD

Scapula Memory
24th March 2008, 10:20 PM
Zuiko,

Have you seen the April edition of Digital Camera? There is a feature on Photomatix you might find very interesting. I recently got the software as well and am still playing about with it, but the feature in this magazine gave me some good pointers.

1st try is a commendable effort BTW, you were brave enough to do it so here is mine with the same software.

Windsor rail station a few weeks back.

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/538/Windsor_Station_HDR.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/4154)

PeterD
24th March 2008, 10:39 PM
John,

Another good treatment with HDR. Looking at the chairs and buildings they really give the impression of 3D. Again I do not think its overdone and the colours are really good. As a personal thing, my only query is the motion blur of the people. Difficult I know to avoid but it does not work for me.

I note from Zuiko that he actually took several exposures. Is this necessary? I would have thouight that one image from the camera can be copied several times and then each given a seperate exposure value before being combined. Or am I wrong in this assumption?

PeterD

Zuiko
24th March 2008, 10:52 PM
Hi Peter,

Thanks for your very encouraging comments, they give me the heart to persevere. My eventual aim is to produce natural looking tone mapped pictures as a modern alternative to the ND graduated filter.

And John,

Thanks for your tip about the magazine. Love your pic of Windsor Station. I see the trademark halo on the left of the image. Perhaps this is a feature of the software and unavoidable?

Scapula Memory
24th March 2008, 10:58 PM
Peter,

The motion blur was deliberate to try and capture a busy rail station, but thinking about it I should have ramped up the shutter speed and stopped the action for a separate comparison shot.

You are right in your assumptions that an image can be copied at different exposure values and loaded in, this is in fact what I did with this image. I think for maximum effect though multiple exposures at the scene would probably fare better, but like most others I have only recently started to dabble in this, and as usual it is time permitting.

Thanks for the response. Just realised this is in the looking for perfection thread so apologies to Zuiko for the distraction :o

Zuiko
25th March 2008, 01:10 AM
Peter,

The motion blur was deliberate to try and capture a busy rail station, but thinking about it I should have ramped up the shutter speed and stopped the action for a separate comparison shot.

You are right in your assumptions that an image can be copied at different exposure values and loaded in, this is in fact what I did with this image. I think for maximum effect though multiple exposures at the scene would probably fare better, but like most others I have only recently started to dabble in this, and as usual it is time permitting.

Thanks for the response. Just realised this is in the looking for perfection thread so apologies to Zuiko for the distraction :o

Please don't apologise, your input is helping me gain a better understanding of HDR technique, thank you.

I've had another go at making a more subtle image and think I may have reduced the effect of that halo a little, by increasing the light smoothing to maximum. I also ommitted the darkest exposure from the sequence on the second attempt, which has reduced the contrast and colour saturation. Not quite so eye catching as the original but perhaps a little more natural and still a huge improvement over any of the single exposures that I made. Here's both versions for comparison:-

Original Version:-

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/Hatfield_ForestAnd5More_tonemapped.jpg

Second attempt:-

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/Hatfield_Forest_tonemapped_r.jpg

Does anyone have a preference between these two images?

Thanks,

Zuiko

steverh
25th March 2008, 01:38 AM
The second one looks much nicer, IMHO.

The first one has that all-to-common "overcooked" HDR look. The second looks pretty natural.

I'm sufficiently encouraged by the quality of some of the HDR work being posted here to try it out when I get some time.

PeterD
25th March 2008, 01:47 AM
I agree with Steve. the second image is my preference. The halo effect has been, to all intents and purposes, removed. The colour od the ends of the sawn trunks also looks more natural.

PeterD

theMusicMan
25th March 2008, 06:40 AM
I agree Zuiko - the second image is my preferred choice out of these two.

Scapula Memory
25th March 2008, 08:28 AM
Have to agree with the consensus here that the second shot is an improvement.

Reading the DC feature it is clear that the three contributors have their own styles and that more often than not a certain amount of experimentation is needed to get the required result. As mentioned in most cases they do not know exactly how the result will end up until they get there so in that respect it is a bit like normal PP. It also mentions that there is no real defined way an image should look, like any picture what appeals to some does not appeal to others. I saw also that the HDR treatment is not always the final stage with a bit of trickery in Photoshop or whatever you use needed to make the image "pop"

Fascinating stuff though, and looking like it is here to stay.

PeterD
25th March 2008, 08:56 AM
Have to agree with the consensus here that the second shot is an improvement.

Reading the DC feature it is clear that the three contributors have their own styles and that more often than not a certain amount of experimentation is needed to get the required result. As mentioned in most cases they do not know exactly how the result will end up until they get there so in that respect it is a bit like normal PP. It also mentions that there is no real defined way an image should look, like any picture what appeals to some does not appeal to others. I saw also that the HDR treatment is not always the final stage with a bit of trickery in Photoshop or whatever you use needed to make the image "pop"

Fascinating stuff though, and looking like it is here to stay.


I agree with you John. The first examples of HDR that I saw were striking for their boldness but some have been extremely harsh and for me personally did make me think that this was more art than photography. The latest examples though are gentler whilst retaining the qualities that I recognise as the strengths - the feeling of depth. My personal feeling is that the recent attempts we have seen are a good advertisement for the process. Well done all.

PeterD

photonutter
25th March 2008, 09:36 AM
t-up For the second attempt Great job and loverly scene.

veggiesosage
25th March 2008, 12:58 PM
I was going to suggest playing with the light smoothing setting but see you've found that on your own.

May also be worth having a play in the 'micro' tab as the micro smoothing does a similar job as light smoothing but on a smaller scale. The luminosity setting can also affect haloing as it controls compression of tones so a low setting may exaggerate haloing thats already there.

I was one of the participants in the DCM article and a couple of the things that we agreed were that the different settings do intereact so its not always predictable what changing one will do, we all tended to just 'suck it and see' to a certain extent. We agreed that the 'strength' setting should usually be high ie 90% or more. Range of exposures is more important than how many, as you need to capture all of the tones in the scene, generally this means at least a shot 2 stops either side of your main one and you might need more. We all shot RAW and loaded the RAWs straight into Photomatix because converting to jpegs just adds work and loses information.

Egon
25th March 2008, 01:12 PM
Try this:
http://www.fdrtools.com/fdrtools_basic_e.php

Zuiko
25th March 2008, 11:59 PM
Thanks for the feedback fom everyone. I feel sufficiently encouraged to purchase the full Photomatix program. I've now seen the magazine referred to, and note that next month they will have an HDR tutorial on the disc. I'll be getting that!

Zuiko

PeterD
26th March 2008, 12:05 AM
Thanks for the feedback fom everyone. I feel sufficiently encouraged to purchase the full Photomatix program. I've now seen the magazine referred to, and note that next month they will have an HDR tutorial on the disc. I'll be getting that!

Zuiko


Thats good news Zuiko. Look forward to your postings later.

PeterD

veggiesosage
26th March 2008, 12:22 AM
Before you do pay out some money, I would also recommend the fdrtools link egon has sugested.

Its always worth trying a free option first and I've heard good things about that bit of software.

Zuiko
26th March 2008, 02:12 AM
Before you do pay out some money, I would also recommend the fdrtools link egon has sugested.

Its always worth trying a free option first and I've heard good things about that bit of software.

Whoops! Too late, I've just got Photomatrix - but I do like the way it's laid out. Even I can understand it! Here's another attempt (also taken at my local forest on Easter Sunday), which I've attempted to keep as subtle as possible by using just three frames exposed as 0 compensation, -1 stop and +1 stop. I know this is a narrower range than is usual but the result still has a much wider dynamic range than any single exposure. Above all I want my images to look natural and, ideally, be difficult to tell that HDR has been applied.

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/HDR_FOREST_0_-1_1_tonemapped_e_r.jpg

Zuiko

PeterD
26th March 2008, 02:21 AM
Whoops! Too late, I've just got Photomatrix - but I do like the way it's laid out. Even I can understand it! Here's another attempt (also taken at my local forest on Easter Sunday), which I've attempted to keep as subtle as possible by using just three frames exposed as 0 compensation, -1 stop and +1 stop. I know this is a narrower range than is usual but the result still has a much wider dynamic range than any single exposure. Above all I want my images to look natural and, ideally, be difficult to tell that HDR has been applied.


Zuiko

Zuiko

That is very good. I think that you have achieved your stated objective with this image. The composition is great too. Just love the track passing from right to left and through the centre of the picture. this together with the HDR effect complement one another and provide depth. the tree trunks and foliage really are brought alive by HDR.

PeterD

veggiesosage
26th March 2008, 02:26 AM
Agreed, you've achieved exactly what you wanted and its looking very good,

Zuiko
26th March 2008, 03:07 AM
Thanks Peter and Veggiesosage for your kind words. I am pleased with the results but there is clearly a long way to go before I fully understand the software and all it can do, and the concept of HDR in general.

I suspect it will be a long road, but fun travelling. And my comprehensive set of ND graduated filters might just become redundant along the way!

Zuiko

theMusicMan
26th March 2008, 04:33 AM
Great work in that shot Zuiko - doesn't look HDD'ed at all.

Scapula Memory
26th March 2008, 08:32 AM
I did try FDR tools and QTPFSGUI ( think its called that, I am at work! ) and they are worth experimenting with. Main difference is speed, Photomatix is a lot faster and easier to use. You can also see the changes as you make them but that does not mean to say the others are not capable performers. Worth looking at before busting open the wallet.

steverh
27th March 2008, 05:52 PM
I'm playing around with Photomatix and also with easyHDR - see http://www.easyhdr.com/index.php.

I prefer the easyHDR results "out of the box", they seem more natural than Photomatix, although I'm sure either can be tweaked to the nth degree.

One advantage of easyHDR - it's about half the price of Photomatix :)