best of hdr

totallyacutething  asked:

Not entirely sure if it is the place to ask, but anyways.. Is it possible to make an "HDR" photo with only one picture? I mean, that file, open it up on Ps, and use the exposure photo, and saving it in 4 other files with -1, -2, +1 and +2 exposure?

It is absolutely possible. You can google “faux hdr” and probably find some tutorials. There are 3 tips that can help you get better results. 

First, I suggest trying out Photomatix for all your HDR needs. It gives you a great deal more control and most folks feel it is the best software available for doing HDR. You can download a free trial to test it out. 

Second, shoot in RAW. That will ensure you have as much exposure data as possible. Typically you can push raw files 2 stops in either direction with out encountering a great deal of noise. 

Second, when taking the photo, overexpose a teeeeny bit. Sometimes called “shooting to the right”, this is a technique where you expose the photo as bright as possible without clipping the highlights too much.

If you look at the histogram, the tone data will look like it is piling up on the right. You can clip a teeny tiny bit in the highlight area if there is something bright white in your frame. 

It should kinda/sorta look something like this. 

Note that there is almost no data in the blacks and shadowy parts of the histogram. And this is a tiny spike at the very highlighty end. 

Most of the time overexposing by about a stop or so will achieve this effect, but every scene is different so you need to check the histogram. Don’t worry if the picture looks ugly and bright on the preview. 

So… why are we taking bright, ugly pictures? 

Think about a series of 10 buckets. On the left is a very small bucket. As you go to the right, the buckets get progressively bigger until you reach a bigass bucket on the end.

These buckets collect tone data. Dark tones go in the small buckets on the left. Light tones go in the buckets on the right. Because the buckets on the right are much bigger, you can collect a lot more information about the light tones. The small buckets on the left can barely collect any information about the dark tones.

Therefore if you can capture what would normally be considered darker tones in the bright tones bucket, you will have more information for the detail in those dark tones.

Therefore you will have more latitude to edit those tones in software. They will also be less noisy. 

And if you capture them in a raw file, ALL of your buckets will be bigger. 

Did I go too photo nerd on you there? Sorry. 

ANYWAY, let’s wrap this all up into an HDR bow. 

You have a raw photo, exposed to the right. You make 4 copies. You under and over expose them in the manner you suggested. You can probably even get away with a -3 if you did the thing. Export them to the HDR editor of your choice and you can get a very similar result to a bracketed set of HDR photos without actually taking a ton of photos. 

The advantages to this would be that you won’t have any ghosting issues. You can take pictures with people in them, moving subjects, or long exposures where you have no way of getting a good set of matched bracketed photos. You can even do this to handheld shots. 

Disadvantages would be that there is an “X factor” involved when doing HDR the proper way. Having all that extra data to crunch always gives a slightly more pleasing result than the faux HDR method. It’s like… they say that you will say “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” But we all know it isn’t butter. 

Photos by Froggie

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