HDR images that look less like HDR images


I became interested in HDR photography. There are at least three ways to do it: 1) Using three or more photos exposed with different setting (e.g. EV -1,0,+1) and combine them to get the best areas of each photo selected and stitched together, 2) Using one RAW 14-bit image that can be taken with latest sensors on market, or 3) Doing so called fake HDR pictures using only one shot. …

Here I used the first method. The goal was to get the best out of the whole idea. The HDR image is good if you need to get some tones into areas that are normally either burned out or too dark if only one image used. But I think HDR picture should not look like a HDR picture. In other words on a picture taken on sunny day, it should not look like the shadow side of the objects are somehow magically illuminating the light of their own. Or clouds look like made out of liquid led.

So, here's with what I started. A basic photo where we have some dark areas and white building that literally disappears into the sky.

Then the same picture when I have done the usual basic adjustments I do for most of the pictures. I have removed the 'loose ends' on histogram tool, added some contrast on levels tool, and improved the colors on hue&saturation tool. I could also try to use some selection tools to select just the sky and try to add some tones there, but it would have been rather difficult.

When taking this photo I also used the 'bracketing' feature on my camera to take five different exposures all together (EV -1.4, -0.7, 0, +0.7, +1.4). Then I used Luminance HDR software to create three different HDR images, which I then opened on GIMP using different layers. The HDR image versions and settings for layers from top to bottom were:

Mantiuk (overlay 20%)
Fattal (soft light 20%)
Drago (background layer)

This combination I found most satisfying because now the colors look somewhat normal and the building is no longer blending into the sky. And I think the picture does not look like a HDR image. The only problem is the people who were walking by and leaves on trees that were moving as well :p

UPDATE 2010-10-11: I recommend you also get familiar with alternative methods. What HDR really means is High Dynamic Range. Modern cameras already have quite high dynamic range and there are also methods to make HDR images based on one single RAW image. Even JPEG images can have quite good dynamic range, so you may get nice pictures with rich dynamic range just by adjusting the curves or using B/W inverted transparent layer to bring more tones into shadows.

More to read:
RAW HDR Processing by Andre Gunther Photography
HDR from a single RAW group at Flickr

Advertisements

45 thoughts on “HDR images that look less like HDR images

  1. πŸ˜† i'm having that problem with hummingbirds, butterflys and that coyote howling and barking right now. Thanks for this post, amigo, hopefully I'll have an opportunity to apply it!:yes:PS did you post smaller pics or is that an upgrade I see? I've noticed mine all come up exactly the same size not matter what html sizing I use. :yes:

  2. You know, I just remembered, I was thinking of the same thing and wondering how to dio it just yesterday or the day before. It struck me strange that I would consider it. I don't have the means to impliment overlapping at my disposal. :confused: ESP? I gotta stop talking to lazy good for nothing Hymenoptera? πŸ˜†

  3. Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    did you post smaller pics or is that an upgrade I see?

    First cropped 'title picture' is 600pixels wide. Others are scaled down from originals. Two next are 1280×960 but the full HDR picture is 1024×768 because there were no option for 1280×960 on software.

  4. Originally posted by decodedthought:

    can this be achieved using a normal digital camera?

    Yes πŸ™‚ All you need to do is put the camera on tripod and take at least three different exposures. One normal exposure, one overexposed using +1 EV, an third using -1 EV. Then use the software I mentioned to create three different HDR images, which you then edit using layers on GIMP.

  5. Maybe but iit would be rather difficult to work with three or more negatives in a darkroom πŸ˜‰ There is however quite nice tip from film era, what I have started to use.On GIMP (or any other editor that has layers):1) duplicate the base layer2) change the duplicate into negative (colors menu in GMP)3) change the duplicate negative layer into 'overlay'4) Adjust the base layer if neededWorks for surprisingly many images if too high contrasts. I guess you can achieve the same with curves tool but this is rather quick and easy method to do the same.

  6. I use something similar. I duplicate the base layer, then I invert one layer and desaturate it. Then I adjust the transparancy of the top layer, flatten the image, and adjust the contrast of the resultutant image. This reduces the difference between bright and dark areas and, as a bonus, brightens the colours. :up:.Variations of this technique can be used to get different results depending on what you need. :up:.

  7. Originally posted by qlue:

    invert one layer and desaturate

    Invert is more correct word πŸ˜€ Desaturate I should try as well :sherlock:

  8. Originally posted by qlue:

    I don't use any rigid formula, but what I discribed above is what I use the most!

    Same thing here but I found it useful to have some formulas to start with.Originally posted by qlue:

    relying on blind luck since no salesperson knows what can or can't work with Linux.

    And same thing with that one as well :awww: Either I just take a risk and hope the device works with Linux or try to search for that information on Web. But someone always have to be the first one who test so I should start reporting my experiments on blogs πŸ˜€

  9. :doh: You are right Qlue πŸ™‚ Desaturate (turn into B/W) is probably better thing to do, so it will not affect on colors. However, do try 'overlay' instead of just adjusting the opacity almost to zero. Although you can still adjust the opacity :DI also did somewhat similar accidentally using a duplicate overlay layer turned into B/W photocopy. Gives quite nice outlines :)Original:Edited:

  10. I've discovered by trial and error just how powerfull layers can be! :up:.I don't use any rigid formula, but what I discribed above is what I use the most! :up:.I'm always experimenting to get the results I'm looking for. I have a ton of old negatives, and I plan to buy one of those negative/transparency scanners and digitise the lot of them. I know I'll be doing a lot of work in GIMP because most of them are old 126 cartridge film and their colour have deteriorated. (not to mention the 'holes' and 'spots' in the damaged emultion) :left:.The thing is, like most old family photos, these are irreplaceable. And the prints seem mostly to have vanished. :awww:.I tried once to use the scanner in my HP Photosmart All-in-one printer, but the results were too poor to be of any use.Of course, I'll need a Linux compatible device. And that means relying on blind luck since no salesperson knows what can or can't work with Linux. :rolleyes:.('nothing' works with Linux according to the packages, yet so far, every peripheral I've bought has worked 'out the box' :p)Since buying online is even more chancy. it's actually safer for of to buy whatever is available off the shelf in the local gadget shops and just take a chance. :hat:.I've actually had more difficulty trying to get things working for friends and colleagues who still stubbornly stick to Windows. :irked:.

  11. I actually get annoyed by the 'system requirements' that always says "Windows XXXX" because I've yet to purchase anything that doesn't work with Linux. The only item that made me work up a bit of a sweat was my modem. And once I figured out that It needs the usbserial module, the rest was easy! :lol:.Of course, I'm using Ubuntu, which does virtually everything for you to begin with. I wouldn't even try Gentoo on my machine because I'm using a netbook which is not very well suited to experimentation. :left:.Perhaps when I finally get a proper desktop setup I might be a little more adventurous in that respect. :p.

  12. Originally posted by serola:

    Yes All you need to do is put the camera on tripod and take at least three different exposures. One normal exposure, one overexposed using +1 EV, an third using -1 EV. Then use the software I mentioned to create three different HDR images, which you then edit using layers on GIMP.

    thank you ! πŸ™‚

  13. @ Decodedthought – I forgot to give link where to get Luminance HDR but I guess you found it already πŸ˜€

  14. Originally posted by qlue:

    Of course, I'm using Ubuntu, which does virtually everything for you to begin with. I wouldn't even try Gentoo on my machine because I'm using a netbook which is not very well suited to experimentation.

    Well, I would say Ubuntu developers reacted pretty fast on netbook markets. I have Asus Eee 901 and at first Ubuntu did not work quite well on that, and I had to use so called Adam's kernel. But now on Lucid Lynx all seem to be integrated :)I personally like ubuntu LTS versions because I have no hurry to get the latests additions.

  15. Where do I plugin to join this jam session?Is there an acoustic OS? :why smile at all: πŸ˜†

  16. Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    Where do I plugin to join this jam session?

    What do you mean? The HDR topic or discussion on Ubuntu?Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    Is there an acoustic OS?

    http://ubuntustudio.org/ :p

  17. BTW That's a cool link. Where'd you come by that?Unfortunatly, it does not resolve my lack of electricity problem.

  18. Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    BTW That's a cool link. Where'd you come by that?

    Free association… You asked about acoustic OS (operating system I presumed), thus making me to think what Ubuntu Linux version comes with rich collection of software needed by musicians, photographers and movie makers πŸ™‚

  19. The cyber community as a whole, really, Sami. And I was just making a metaphorical comparison between the acoustic/electric argument in music with the dilema I face. I need a break from triple digit days!:insane: (you know? If you're brazing stainless steel, you really need nickle in the rod. Of course those weren't at either location I shopped locally. :irked: Oh, and the purge valve on the O2 canister leaks!I'm off topic, aren't I? Yet somehow for me it's all connected. :insane:

  20. That's the point of Linux. There really is something for everyone. :D.Getting the right equipment and consummables is a nuisance when the local suppliers just don't have what you're looking for. :down:.

  21. They have had those rods in the past. That's the only reason I went looking for them there. They are really fairly common. :irked:What's really frustrating are parts for the trike. :insane:As far as ubuntu is concerned; I'm familiar with it and even have a flash drive w/it ready to be installed but haven't been able to get the netbook up and running due to circumstances. As long as I don't frustrate myself with it in an adverse environment, I don't sweat it

  22. Originally posted by serola:

    @ Decodedthought – I forgot to give link where to get Luminance HDR but I guess you found it already

    CLICKME I guess is the link you are talking about ?? :confused:

  23. OK but all I really want to do right now is replace the valve on the O2. It's reverse threads and impossible to come by in that size! :insane:

  24. Originally posted by serola:

    That is the software I meant Moreover I recommend trying to shoot using RAW image format. Then you would need UFRaw as well: http://ufraw.sourceforge.net

    I dont think I can shoot raw images using my digital camera 😦

  25. Then multiple JPEG images it is for you πŸ™‚ I finally found time to see your photo albums Decodedthought, and you seem to have HP Photosmart Mz60. It seem to be quite limited camera but here's a few tips:1) Use ISO 100 (instead of auto) to get best possible quality.2) Use tripod or hold the camera steady against some solid object.3) Use exposure compensation to take those three or more pictures for HDR.

  26. Interesting post, and very effective use of HDR. I must learn more about using layers. My editing skills are very basic.

  27. Thank you Words. It is actually surprisingly easy πŸ™‚ The fun part is that unlike during the era of films and prints, it costs you nothing if you use something like GIMP πŸ˜‰

  28. Tom, please do the experiments somewhere else πŸ˜€ That was very much off-topic πŸ˜‰

  29. Folks, I updated the article a little :up: There are methods to create 'high dynamic range' pictures also based on one photo, and this is becoming more easy with pictures taken on modern sensors. Personally I like the tip given by Mad Scientist:Originally posted by qlue:

    I duplicate the base layer, then I invert one layer and desaturate it. Then I adjust the transparancy of the top layer, flatten the image, and adjust the contrast of the resultutant image.

    It's just so elegant and easy way to add some tones into shadows, and pictures still look traditional and "natural". Meaning maybe also as old fashioned when high dynamic range pictures comes more common πŸ˜€

  30. πŸ˜† Although, that is quite cool, and deserves a blog article of it's own ;)Folks on PC, move your cursor over the 'WTF' on Tom's comment πŸ˜‰

  31. Thanks for this very interesting post, Sami. :up:Originally posted by serola:

    Personally I like the tip given by Mad Scientist:
    Originally posted by qlue:

    I duplicate the base layer, then I invert one layer and desaturate it. Then I adjust the transparancy of the top layer, flatten the image, and adjust the contrast of the resultutant image.

    It's just so elegant and easy way to add some tones into shadows, and pictures still look traditional and "natural".

    I've just tried this quickly using Paint.NET to edit a picture I took in a dense NZ forest. I like the result. :)Originally it looked like this: http://my.opera.com/mimi_s_mum/albums/showpic.dml?album=4166242&picture=63181552After adjustment it looks like this: http://my.opera.com/mimi_s_mum/albums/showpic.dml?album=4166242&picture=76922322Pretty neat, eh? Thank you, Sami and qlue. :yes:

  32. Sami, do you have any techniques that would have my camera at the ready to catch a shot of that peregrine that intentionally swooped down in front of my trike yesterday? It's rather ironic as to why that's not a higher priority. It's a security issue, you know?

  33. :eyes: I'm not sure if that was for real but, I am sure that the peregrine was. The condor at the Grand Canyon that appeared right after I echoed out a deep click with my tongue from off the roof of my mouth(:lol: I swear) won't showup on Google anything quite as well. :up:

  34. Alice Cooper is playing here on Oct. 2. My oldest sisters first husband's name was Kelly Cooper. He told me he had shrapnal in his gut from throwing himself down on a hand grenade. He was in the 82nd Airborne. You make me feel like Elmer Fudd?I'll follow links in due time and not before I've knapped. :rolleyes:I've been refilling my upper meatlocker and I am happy to say my mind needs no pacification. Will I find Gertrude down there?

  35. Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    Who do you love?Focus or Abba?

    Very off-topic question once again :p But finally I know what to answer. Both and neither! They both have made good and bad songs. Although Abba has probably made many more good onces than Focus. I didn't even remember Focus but now after listening their 'Hocus Pocus', I must say it is a classic :up:

Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s