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Old West

 
 
Steve M. Harrington
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/28/2005
    The tones and feel of this image knock me out, Rich. I want to find out more about how you achieve them.


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6/29/2009 12:43:12 AM

 
Rich Helmer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/4/2008
 

Thanks Steve! I used 3 exposures for this image. -2, 0 & +2 then blend them with PS and Photomatix Pro as an HDR image. I like the colors here, but B&W HDR really looks great too. I checked out your website, you really have great work! Thanks again!!!


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6/29/2009 10:29:08 AM

 
Steve M. Harrington
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/28/2005
 

I am just learning Photomatrix and using it for both true HDR as you describe and to combine levels adjusted versions of my Kodachrome slides like A New Day. I am fascinated by the potential, but am also struggling with all the adjustment possibilities. I am all ears if you have any tips.
I enjoyed your work as well.
Steve


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6/29/2009 2:42:04 PM

 
Rich Helmer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/4/2008
 

 
Photomatix is a great and pretty easy program to use. It just takes a good deal of trial and error. I experimented with it and I try to keep somewhat of a real feel to it by using the DETAILS ENHANCER side of the program. I never go past medium light smoothing because to me it really starts to look extremely fake. I know my stuff is a bit painted looking but past medium gets real grainy and really unnatural to me. I also mess with the smoothing quite a bit. On this image I wish I would of smoothed it out a bit more. After I am done with Photomatix I go to PS and usually use an unsharp mask and once and a while tweak the colors. Usually desaturate them. If you are trying to go a bit more natural, decrease the STRENGTH OPTION, raise the LUMINOSITY, use HIGH LIGHT SMOOTHING, and use a higher number for the MICRO SMOOTHING OPTION. I have found doing this really keeps the photo looking natural and takes the guess work out of using graduated filters. If you really want to get crazy, use 5 or 7 exposures and just use Photomatix BLENDING OPTION. This will give you the "more natural" HDR effect as well. Hope this helps!


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6/29/2009 6:14:43 PM

 
Steve M. Harrington
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/28/2005
 

Thanks for taking the time to explain all this to me, Rich. Your experience with the software is really helpful. I will be pasting this on my spare screen as I work through my images.
A couple of questions if you don't mind. Should I stick with the E V spacing the software calculates? Will I get all screwed up if I manually set a 1 to a 2 or 3 spacing?
Do you set Strength first and do you usually stay at the 70 default? Should I set the black and white points first? I find those controls to be rather bizarre in their behavior.
When do you adjust Microcontrast? First or after other adjustments?
The sky in your latest image is wonderful, but I am still partial to the textures in the jail itself. They are wonderful.


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6/29/2009 7:11:53 PM

 
Steve M. Harrington
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/28/2005
 

Duh! I see you have already answered my Strength question. The black and white point issue is the really puzzling one for me.


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6/29/2009 7:15:22 PM

 
Rich Helmer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/4/2008
 

You're welcome! Glad to help. I don't mess with the EV spacing at all because I bracket 3 exposures on my D90 for -2 0 and +2. If you are working with just one image and not blending then you might want to increase or decrease the amount accordingly. If you are blending 3 or more images than I would leave at the default. I always set the strength to 100 first. Then I can go down if I think it is too saturated or vibrant. If you are going more natural somewhere around 50 is a good place to start. The black and white points are kind of strange, I agree. I always adjust the white first, this way I know if I am blowing anything out or not. I don't want to do the exact opposite of why I am doing an HDR in the first place. Then I would play around with the black to get the effect I desire and then adjust the GAMMA right after that. I like a little more of a gloomy look so I tend to struggle with setting the Gamma too low and might have to adjust that again when I am finished. Microcontrast, I adjust when picking the LIGHT SMOOTHING. I find I usually use clouds as my reference point. This goes back to the smoothness of the image. I don't like to go overboard where the clouds look grainy. You said you like the JAIL better than the MISSION, I did not add a UNSHARP MASK to the MISSION. Try it, you might like the crispness of it after the image is complete. Save your Photomatix file to a 8 bit TIFF and open it in PS. Try the unsharp mask there and maybe mess with the vibrance. I usually back off the vibrance when I am done just to tone it down a bit. Sorry so long! Hope this helps! Rich


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6/29/2009 7:31:42 PM

 
Steve M. Harrington
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/28/2005
 

Thanks. Precisely what I needed. And knowing you change the gamma is good to hear. I was treating it as some sacred setting that should only be changed under a full moon. :)
I am taking the completed HDR into PS Elements (gotta get CS4!) and using Nik Efex and Nik Sharpener.
I will let you know of any discoveries I make.


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6/29/2009 7:41:50 PM

 
Rich Helmer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/4/2008
 

Sounds good! Elements will work just as good as CS4 for this. I use Nik Efex and Sharpener as well. Great software! Looking forward to your next images! Take care!


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6/29/2009 7:45:08 PM

 
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