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 midtones with them. Depending on the HDR software used, a variety of tools are available to restore contrast and separation in midtones. If used aggressively, these tools produce the tell tale 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.
Dan Steinhardt and Tony Corbell discuss their black and white workflows from input to output.
Read more in my black and white resources.
Learn more in my Black & White Mastery digital printing workshop.
NIK recently announced a new version of their exceptional software for HDR imaging – NIK’s HDR Efex Pro 2. It’s the HDR solution with the best visual interface, one that helps you compare your options at a single glance.
Use the code JPCNIK to get a 15% discount on all NIK software
NAPP’s RC Concepcion (Check out his HDR book here.) demonstrates the latest version in this video.
New features include …
Improved Tone Mapping Engine – Develop superior results with better color rendering and improved natural styles
Interface, Interaction, and Workflow – Benefit from improvements to the merging interface, tone mapping and enhancement controls, visual presets, and more
Depth Control – Enjoy added depth and realism in images with the new and proprietary Depth control, which helps counteract the flattened look commonly associated with HDR images
Full GPU Processing and Multi-Core Optimization – Gain even faster performance with GPU processing that takes full advantage of the processors found on modern display adapters
Ghost Reduction – Improved ghost reduction algorithm ensures that artifacts created by moving objects are removed with a single click
Chromatic Aberration Reduction – Reduce color fringes around objects
Graduated Neutral Density Control – Access the full 32-bit depth of the merged image, providing a natural effect especially on images with a strong horizon line
Full White Balance Control – Take full advantage of the white balance in an image with a new Tint slider, which along with the Temperature slider, can be applied both globally as well as selectively using U Point technology
History Browser – Easily review adjustments and different HDR looks via the History Browser which records every enhancement used in an editing session
Extended Language Support – International users benefit by the addition of Brazilian Portuguese and Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) to a list of languages that includes English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Japanese
Find out about even more features here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.
HDR software is most typically used to render shadow and highlight detail, but it also can 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 midtones with them. Depending on the HDR software used, a variety of tools are available to restore contrast and separation in midtones. 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.
Find details on using Adobe Photoshop and NIK’s HDR Efex Pro.
Read the full article on Digital Photo Pro.
Find more sharpening resources here.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.
Both NIK’s Viveza and Color Efex Pro offer useful additions to a digital artist’s set of detail enhancement tools. Viveza provides Structure while Color Efex Pro provides Tonal Contrast. Consider them both useful variations of the types of effects you can produce with Photoshop’s High Pass filter. So what specifically are the visual differences?
Like Photoshop’s High Pass filter, Viveza’s Structure provides a single slider but offers more options with the inclusion of negative values for soft focus effects. In contrast to High Pass, Structure enhances contours with a line that is not as pronounced as Unsharp Mask (Structure is almost incapable of producing artificially hard contouring.) and thinner than High Pass (Structure can’t be used for enhancing planar contrast like high values of High Pass.). 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. Think of Structure as occupying the visual territory that lies between Unsharp Mask and High Pass.
Get %15 off all NIK software products with this code – JPCNIK.
HDR Efex Pro
Color Efex Pro
Silver Efex Pro
NIK software is among the best of the best in the digital imaging industry.
Just look at all the awards it’s won.
It makes complicated tasks easy. How?
“Photoshop plug-ins take away some of the most labour-intensive photo manipulations and replace them with an easier to use “script”, or presets. Nik plug-ins go one step further and provide the user with a unique ‘U-Point’ technology, allowing for customisation of individual image parameters. And all presets can be further customized to each photographer’s taste.”
With so many great choices, where do you start? I recommend you look very closely at HDR Efex Pro (the most visual and intuitive HDR interface available) and at Tonal Contrast in Viveza or Structure in Sharpener Pro (Clarity or High Pass sharpening on steroids).
Find NIK Software products here.
Recently, I spoke with Scott Sheppard on NIK Radio. Scott wanted to talk about how to avoid “Photographic A.D.D.”. He asked, “So what do you do?” I replied, “You have two choices. You can spray and pray. Or, you can look before you leap.” I elaborate in our wide ranging discussion on how to focus your creative vision.
Listen to our conversation on NIK Radio.
Find more audio inspiration on my website.
Learn more about creativity in my digital photography workshops.
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Visit Nik Radio and listen to advice and inspiration from top pros using Nik software; the growing list of offerings includes Tony Corbel, Moose Peterson, Rick Sammon, Tony Sweet, Vincent Versace, and many others.
Want more inspiration?
Read selections from 42 conversations with photographers here.