Fake HDR or not to fake

Android Camera 360 software used with HDR (heavy) effect Basic editing with level and curve tools Fake HDR Look in Gimp

HDR images have been a hot topic lately. A real High Dynamic Range (HDR) image is made out of multiple images taken with EV bracketing. In other words at least three pictures are taken with exposure values -1.5, zero and +1.5. So, one picture is underexposed, one normal and one overexposed. Then on editing software, using some tricky procedure, these pictures are combined to get one picture where's high dynamic range aka enough light and tones also in dark areas.

Another, much older method, is to use negative image as filter. In short the method consist of B/W inverse, transparent (negative) layer that is used as a filter to bring tones into very light and dark areas. In very same this could be used during the film era when projecting and printing on paper. Negative film was duplicated into positive dia slide and then they were put into enlarger.

What I now found was a little more complex procedure to use the method on GIMP photo editing software. And it seem to work just fine. I suppose the method used for example in various Android software, like PicsayPro and Camera 360, gives somewhat similar fake HDR results.

EDIT: And then I found much more simple way and very similar as I once discussed with Mad Scientist. A Geek in the hills has added very important addition to the instructions. Here's those instructions modified by me:

  1. Colors->Levels->Auto if it seem to improve, cancel if not. Alternatively just adjust brightness and contrast.
  2. Duplicate the base layer.
  3. Image->Adjustments->Desaturate second layer
  4. Image->Adjustments->Invert second layer.
  5. Set the second layer to soft light.
  6. Add a ~50* pixel Gaussian blur on the second layer.

I was surprised to see how much the Gaussian blur affects on the results.

*EDIT: It is very important to experiment the amount of Gaussian blur! On some pictures much less blur is better. Thanks to Kelisha I just found out there's such thing as 'Tool > GEGL Operation', which you can use to apply Gaussian blur in much more convenient way. That way you see how the Gaussian blur affects on the whole picture, not just the current layer.

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3 thoughts on “Fake HDR or not to fake

  1. Sami, do you print out any of your photos? How does HDR effect that? I'm kinda happy with the little amount of editing features afforded by my Sony software. I can adjust exposure on light and dark areas separately and contrast as well as sharpness. So far all I'm aware of in terms of color is saturation, but, individual color levels would be nice. I don't get a lot of time on my desktop to really get fancy but it's way easier than messing with exposure and developer times and dodging. I hope to get some practice in on these Canyon photos I've been taking next winter. :up:

  2. Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    Sami, do you print out any of your photos?

    Occasionally.Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    How does HDR effect that?

    I have not yet printed any HDR or "fake HDR" pictures. However, the HDR pictures should come out just nicely. But what comes to my personal opinion,, then I say HDR sucks. For me HDR pictures actually look very flat. It can be nice to have tones in areas that would otherwise burn into white or left in darkness. However, for me "normal" editing makes the pictures look deeper.Originally posted by Frlmnk:

    I hope to get some practice in on these Canyon photos I've been taking next winter.

    Do start with basic editing. Even adjusting contrast and brightness can do miracles to the photo.

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