John Sexton Celebrates the black and white print.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Read more with my online Printing Resources.

View more with my Printing DVD.


Kim Weston celebrates black and white printing.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Read more with my online Printing Resources.

View more with my Printing DVD.

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Unsharpened / Hybrid / Strong HDR

HDR software is most typically used to render shadow and highlight detail, but it can also be used to enhance tonal separation and detail in any range of tones, even in images with extremely low contrast. The very same tools that are used to compensate for HDR side effects can be used to sharpen any image.

When multiple bracketed exposures are merged into a single processed file, shadows and highlights that exceed the dynamic range of a camera’s sensor are compressed into the dynamic range of a digital file, taking the mid tones with them. Depending on the HDR software used, a variety of tools are available to restore contrast and separation in mid tones. If used aggressively, these tools produce the telltale signs of contemporary or grunge HDR artifacts – halos and texture accentuation. These are the very same artifacts that digital sharpening routines use more conservatively to make images appear sharper – only they look different.

Unlike the hard halo and line produced by the filter Unsharp Mask and more like the soft line produced by the filter High Pass, HDR sliders can give you still more points of control over line and texture, each with a slightly different flavor.

For creative sharpening, compare two HDR software packages; Adobe Photoshop and NIK’s HDR Efex Pro.

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Photoshop’s HDR Toning

Adobe’s Photoshop’s HDR solution offers three points of control relevant for sharpening. One, Radius controls the thickness of the halo / line. Two, Strength controls the contrast of the effect. These two sliders are similar to the filter Unsharp Mask but the effect is much closer to the filter High Pass. Three, Detail accentuates texture, with minimal affects on contours. Unlike the filter Unsharp Mask’s Threshold slider, instead of suppressing the side effect of texture accentuation, this slider gives you the ability to control it independently of contour accentuation. (Settings lower than 100% blur the image but not its contours.) Photoshop typically offers the smoothest continuous tone effects.

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HDR Efex Pro

While Google’s HDR Efex Pro presets are rich and wonderful for visually exploring tone mapping variations, for detail enhancement you really only need to focus on two features. First, the Method, which set the base effect; Natural, Clean, Crisp, Halo Reduction, Subtle, Sharp, etc. Second, the Structure slider, which functions very similarly to Viveza’s Structure. Structure accentuates texture somewhat, which can enhance noise as well as detail, but not as much as Unsharp Mask. When Structure is applied, luminosity contrast increases, more so in shadows than in highlights where very high values stop just short of compromising shadow detail. Unlike, Viveza’s Structure, the effects on shadows and highlights can be modified with HDR Efex Pro’s Blacks and Whites sliders. Think of Structure as occupying the visual territory that lies between Unsharp Mask and High Pass. HDR Efex Pro’s interface is simple yet more versatile, which means you’ll spend a little more time exploring the many options it offers.

(HDRsoft’s Photomatix is excellent for tone mapping but it is difficult to separate contour and texture from tonal enhancement, making it an overly challenging addition to sharpening solutions.)

If sharpening is your goal, resist the temptation to use the other sliders in each interface; they won’t enhance detail only contrast. That said, much like Photoshop’s simpler TMO Shadows/Highlights they can be used to render shadow and highlight detail more clearly.

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Layer stack for blending multiple renderings

Once images are sharpened with HDR software, the rendered effect can be layered with an unsharpened version of an image, providing more control. Use the blend mode Luminosity to affect only the light and dark values. Use the Opacity slider to reduce the effect. (Knowing you can only reduce the effect, you’ll favor applying the HDR software a little aggressively.) Use the Blend If sliders to remove the effect from either highlights (halos) or shadows (lines) or both. Mask the layer to apply the effect to selected regions. You may even decide to use two (or more) different layers with different HDR treatments to customize effects for specific image regions.

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Before (left) & After (right)

And, of course, sharpening with HDR software can be used in combination with any other sharpening technique, like Unsharp Mask or High Pass filtration.

The options you have for controlling the look and feel of detail in your images are simply unprecedented in the history of the medium. Every digital artist will benefit from exploring these options.

Read more on HDR techniques here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

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Enjoy this collection of quotes on Appreciation.

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” Hansa Proverb

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” – Dalai Lama

“By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved – and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses – you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.” – Jack Canfield

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” ― Voltaire

“The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.” ― Dale Carnegie

“The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.” – Charles M. Schwab

“The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nature’s beauty is a gift that cultivates appreciation and gratitude.” – Louie Schwartzberg

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” ― Marcus Aurelius

“I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I am not able to appreciate.” ― Elbert Hubbard

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” ― Mark Twain

“Knowing how things work is the basis for appreciation, and is thus a source of civilized delight.” – William Safire

“Indeed, I would feel that an appreciation of the arts in a conscious, disciplined way might help one to do science better.” – Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

“But perhaps the rest of us could have separate classes in science appreciation, the wonder of science, scientific ways of thinking, and the history of scientific ideas, rather than laboratory experience.” – Richard Dawkins

“The trouble with music appreciation in general is that people are taught to have too much respect for music they should be taught to love it instead.” – Igor Stravinsky

“Knowing what paint a painter uses or having an understanding of where he was in the history of where he came from doesn’t hurt your appreciation of the painting.” – Jodie Foster

“I learned more from my mother than from all the art historians and curators who have informed me about technical aspects of art history and art appreciation over the years.” – David Rockefeller

“Artworks are especially good at helping our psyches in a variety of ways: they rebalance our moods, lend us hope, usher in calm, stretch our sympathies, reignite our senses, and reawaken appreciation.” – Alain de Botton

“The essence of all beautiful art is gratitude.” – Friedrich Nietzche

“I’ve learned that universal acceptance and appreciation is just an unrealistic goal.” – Dan Brown

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

“The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.” – Amelia Earhart

“To be more childlike, you don’t have to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously. Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe.” – Wayne Dyer

“If you drive to, say, Shenandoah National Park, or the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll get some appreciation for the scale and beauty of the outdoors. When you walk into it, then you see it in a completely different way. You discover it in a much slower, more majestic sort of way.” – Bill Bryson

“Workaholics typically have a lot of achievement with very little appreciation of what they have, whether it’s cars or friendships or otherwise. That is a shallow victory. Then you have people with a lot of appreciation and no achievement, which is fine, but it doesn’t create a lot of good in the world.” – Timothy Ferriss

“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.” ― Paulo Coelho

“The achievement is appreciation. Your ability to be surprised and awed by beauty!” – William Hurt

“I do not equate productivity to happiness. For most people, happiness in life is a massive amount of achievement plus a massive amount of appreciation. And you need both of those things.” – Timothy Ferriss

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!” ― Mae West

Explore The Essential Collection Of Creativity Quotes here.

View The Essential Collection Of Creativity Videos here

Discover more quotes in my social networks.

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David DuChemin recommends, “If you want sharper photographs, buy a new lens. If you want more compelling photographs, start here.” So do I. If you love David’s books (including Within The Frame and The Soul Of The Camera), like I do – his new online class The Compelling Frame is for you.

Haven’t been able to take one of his Mentor Series Workshops? The Compelling Frame is a great way to get started while you’re waiting.

“The Compelling Frame is a mentor class about making more compelling photographs by being more intentional about your compositions.” (David DuChemin) As with everything David does, it’s vision driven. There are no rules here. David deftly points out that the elements of composition and the forces they set in motion are nothing without purpose – and in your photographs that purpose is yours to choose. Put another way, without knowing what you want to do, you’re unlikely to know how to do it. David puts heart and soul into everything he does; that’s what makes him so great. And he encourages you to do the same because that’s what will make you great.

In the videos you spend less time watching David demonstrate and more time listening to him talk and ask you questions – about really important things. It’s like having a fireside chat with David; the fire is a monitor and the warmth you feel is David. The Compelling Frame is not just a series of videos to be watched passively, this is a class, and to get the most out of it you’ll want to do the exercises that accompany each lesson. It’s well thought out. This is the good work we all need to do. This includes looking carefully at other photographers images, looking carefully at your own, and making new ones. Do this work and you can’t help but make better photographs.

What do you get when you purchase The Compelling Frame? 19 Video Lessons, 31 Creative Exercises, 4 About The Image videos, 2 Craft & Creativity Videos, 2 eBooks, 3 Ask Me Anything Sessions, a one-year membership to Vision Driven a private Facebook community, and 10% off future MentorClasses.

The Compelling Frame is available for one week only – until Sep 20, 2017.

Preview The Compelling Frame here now.

Find out more about David DuChemin here.

Lake Turkana, Kenya, Africa

Gabra women dancing, North Horr, Kenya.

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Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

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Enjoy this collection of photographs by David DuChemin.

Find out more about David DuChemin here.

Read David DuChemin’s Q&A here.

Read David DuChemin’s Favorite Quotes here.

Preview his new online course The Compelling Frame now.


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