If you are here, most likely you are looking for a step by step hdr tutorial to guide you in creating your first HDR. You are in luck. I have written this hdr tutorial specifically for those that are just starting out to shoot hdr photography.
You can create an HDR by using one of two methods: shooting several JPEG pictures and merging them together or shooting a single RAW picture. If you don’t know what RAW is, don’t worry. We are going to focus today on creating an HDR from several JPEG shots.
The materials needed to create an HDR image using the method described above are:
- Digital Camera
- Photomatix (used for Generating HDR and Tone Mapping)
- Photoshop (any version will do)
Let’s get started
Taking the pictures:
Put your camera in the tripod. Place it firmly because you’ll have to touch the camera to change the speed and this can make you move it, and then… well, you wont be able to get the HDR you were hoping for.
After selecting the subject you wish to shoot, prepare everything as if you were only going to take one picture. Prepare it to your taste or what ever is you want to accomplish.
Set your primary exposure and speed. We are going to call this master setting 0. After this is complete and you have everything set up you are going to take 5 pictures:
2 pictures up from 0 and 2 pictures down.
%^&#* what do you mean?
Don’t panic is quite easy:
If the settings for picture 0 is: 1/125 and f/4.5, the settings for the remaining pictures are as follows:
- Picture +2: 1/200 f/4.5
- Picture +1: 1/160 f/4.5
- Picture 0: 1/125 f/4.5 (YOUR MASTER SETTING)
- Picture -1: 1/100 f/4.5
- Picture -2: 1/80 f/4.5
You’ve may noticed that the F/ stays the same. The reason is that: if that value changes also will you Depth of Field which will cause your focus to change also.
Now that you have taken all your pictures is time to go and kick some Photomatix but!
Ok, so you got to your computer, opened up Photomatix, and oh well you have no idea what to do. No problem becouse this part of the process has litle pictures in it, so you wont have any excuse not to make HDR pictures!!
Open Photomatix and look in the “Workflow Shortcuts” module for the “Load Bracketed Photos” button. Click on it.
Now you will see a selection window. Click on “Browse”:
Now click on the “Browse” button and select the pictures you want:
After you you select your pictures and click on the “Load” button a screen like this come along:
Ok. Now your pictures are selected and you click OK. Photomatix will show you the selected pictures an their exposure value (if the exposure is not correct you can always edit it manually):
Now you’ll get a few options before processing the image. Given that this is a tutorial for beginners, copy my settings and click “Preprocess” (we could get into details about “Ghosting” but then this will be an advanced tutorial :) ):
If everything is ok, this should come up:
Now comes the fun part, we get to play with Photomatix. Photomatix has 4 modules with several options in each, let’s look at each one:
- Details Enhancer
- Color Saturation
- Tone Settings
- White Point
- Black Point
- Color Settings
- Saturation Highlights
- Saturation Shadows
- Misc Settings
- Highlight Smoothness
- Shadow Smoothness
- Shadow Clipping
I could go on and explain what all those sliders and buttons do, but we’ll do something better: You try!
Move them up, down, add a bit more here, take some there… you get the idea. Experience it for yourself. Trust me, is really fun this way!
So, after moving around the sliders I get to a point where I like the results:
Click on “Process”, and we go back to the first screen but with the final version of the photo:
Now I want to take it to Photoshop for aditional retouching but first I have to save it:
Now go to Photoshop, and open the TIFF you just saved:
Now go to the IMAGE tab then ADJUSTMENTS. Now you have to play and have fun with each and every other option in there. Try everything and if you do something you don’t like, don’t worry, UNDO! (Also play with some filters, they can help to!)
After playing a litle bit, I got to this point which I like:
Now save it again in any format you like. I always save them on TIFF:
Voila! Your first HDR Image. Kind a cool, is it not?
Hope this hdr tutorial helps! If you get into HDR, join us on Flickr or if you are already enjoying HDR on Flickr keep them coming!
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