Sunday, 1 June 2014

How to Create Realistic HDR Photography (Video)

How to Create Realistic HDR Photography (Video)

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How to Create Realistic HDR Photography (Video)

Posted: 31 May 2014 09:18 PM PDT

There’s an art to creating realistic HDR images. Too often, HDR shots are edited with heavy hands when it comes to tone mapping and saturation, leaving you with an improbable and unrealistic image. The following full-length video tutorial on editing HDR images presented by Tim Cooper will have you on the right track to getting the HDR results you desire:

(for those of you reading this by email, the video presentation can be seen here)

What Is HDR?

By now, most of us are familiar with HDR, but if you are new to the concept, you may not fully understand the theory behind it. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. An image with high dynamic range will often display more balance between the highlights, midtones, and shadows in an image. This effect is created by blending two or more of the same image shot at different exposure levels together, each image contributing its most properly exposed section to create the HDR effect. This is commonly done using software such as Photomatix and Adobe Lightroom, which is the choice of Cooper and will be used throughout the tutorial.

Shooting For HDR

When you are taking your photos and have the idea to create an HDR photo, there are a few things to keep in mind. Since you’ll be taking multiple shots to later combine in post production, it’s important to keep your camera very steady–use a tripod if you have one available to ensure your shots line up correctly in editing.

Using three exposures is a good starting point for HDR. You should have one middle of the road exposure, one that is overexposed, and one that is underexposed. Try to keep this within a 5-stop range, otherwise you will actually lose detail by blowing out the highlights or having completely black shadows.


Stay within five stops of dynamic range to avoid blown out whites and dark shadows.

Editing Your Shots

After navigating to your three exposures in Lightroom, you will want to start the editing process by reducing noise and fixing any chromatic aberrations that may be present.

Now, collectively select all three of the images and begin the merging processes by clicking on File > Plug In Extras >Export To Photomatix Pro.

adobe lightroom hdr

When the pop-up appears, make the appropriate selections.

When the Photomatix pop-up appears, we’re going to run through our options to ensure the Align Images and Crop Aligned Result boxes are checked.

Depending on whether you used a tripod or not, click on Taken On Tripod or Hand Held.

Cooper never selects the Remove Ghosts, Noise, or Chromatic Aberration boxes, because he does this in Lightroom before he imports to Photomatix.

Ask Photomatix to reopen the result in Lightroom, making sure it is set to TIFF 16-bit for maximum file quality.

Click Export.

Cooper jokes about the awful presets that appear as a filmstrip on the right hand side of Photomatix. He suggests just closing the filmstrip altogether to avoid the temptation of a quick fix. Instead, he suggests clicking on the Exposure Fusion setting in the left hand window, setting it to its default setting, and making the adjustments by hand.

Photomatix Settings

To make the manual adjustments, it’s helpful to understand what all of the sliders do. Refer to the list below for a quick primer on the five settings Cooper uses to edit his HDR images:

  • Strength. Think of this as your master fade or opacity of the effects you are about apply.
  • Brightness. This setting affects the highlights and midtones.
  • Midtones. This will affect the midtones and the shadows.
  • Black Clip. Changes the deepest black tones.
  • White Clip. Changes the brightest white tones.
hdr editing

Work through the settings manually rather than relying on the presets.

Another Editing Method

Alternatively, you can simply combine the images in Photomatix, set it to Exposure Fusion at its default settings, then export the image to Lightroom to make the detailed adjustments there rather than in Photomatix. This is often a good choice to make, as you are probably already more familiar with the Lightroom interface than the Photomatix interface.

Following Cooper’s advice and experimenting with your own preferences will help you create HDR images that look more realistic.

For Further Training on HDR Photography:

If you are interested in furthering your skills in HDR photography, this course can definitely help. Trey Ratcliff, arguably the most popular and successful HDR photographer ever, has released an extensive HDR Photography training course. If you are unfamiliar with his work, Trey created the first HDR photo to ever be hung in the Smithsonian Museum and he has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, NPR, and the BBC. For 15% off, remember to use the discount code picturecorrect at checkout. The Training Course He Offers Can Be Found Here

HDR Software Coupon for PictureCorrect Readers:

Photomatix is the software of choice for most professional HDR photographers. Photomatix was nice enough to provide a discount to PictureCorrect readers on any version of their software. For 15% off, remember to use the photomatix coupon code picturecorrect at checkout. The software can be acquired Here on the Photomatix Site

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

Lighting for Studio Portraiture

Posted: 31 May 2014 06:31 PM PDT

What makes a stunning portrait? Is it the individual being photographed? Is it the color? Perhaps it’s a good photographic lens. In fact, there are lots of factors that go into whether or not a portrait turns out well. Nevertheless, there is one significant ingredient to success: lighting.

Lighting, especially in portrait photography, helps to shape and compliment a person’s face. “Light sculpting”, as this is known in professional terms, means that a person’s better features are accentuated. This brings us to the issue of the very best lighting setup for portrait photography. The “best” setup for portrait photography is one that carves out the attractiveness and charm of your subject’s face. Lighting setups for photographing people rely a lot on the person and what you want to enhance.

child portraiture

“Studio Work / Portraits” captured by Iain Dunne (Click image to see more from Dunne.)

Lighting techniques for portrait photography vary from broad to short light and from side to front light. Beauty lighting is a term used to light from above and underneath a person, producing softness across a person’s face. This is used for fashion and makeup photos. These are predominantly used for ladies but they can be used for men, too.

Profile Lighting

One of the most appealing portrait photography lighting styles is called “profile lighting”. This is a two or three light setup done in the photographic studio. It requires a strip softbox (long rectangular softbox), a small softbox, and a background light–if you are using one. The individual sits facing the main light. We need to funnel the light to reduce its distribution. Once that is accomplished, we place the fill light at approximately a 50-60 degree angle from ourselves, toward the subject. We allow the light to fill in the shadows on the side of the person’s face, without spilling too much on their body. The angle of the fill light is significant. You may illuminate the background if you wish, but remember to position the background light low to the ground so it’s not in the frame.

This lighting setup is ideal for portraits, because it is straightforward. Once you find the right direction, everything becomes easier. Portrait photography mainly uses softboxes. I have not utilized umbrellas in this situation, simply because they splay the light too broadly. The whole purpose of this lighting technique is to direct and funnel the light.

Portrait lighting relies on sculpting with light. It’s not easy, because light sculpting is very technical and extremely particular. Lights have to be in very specific positions. Even a few centimeters can change the outcome of your image.

Portrait Lighting Gear

A lighting setup for portraits typically requires lights with stands and a whole series of tools to modify the light. Silver umbrellas, for example, are reflective and help to create broad lighting. Shoot-through umbrellas are made from a semi-opaque material and soften a broad spread of light. Gobos are black pieces of cardboard of different sizes that impede the light from certain reaching parts of your image. Studio lighting kits for portrait photography offer many lighting accessories to create desired results.

Lighting Mood

Lighting is emotion. In all portrait photography, use it to enhance and create emotion. Using lots of shadow and blackness will create different feelings than if you have a very bright scene. Placing lights in certain positions creates the person’s relationship with the light, and as a consequence, tells a story.

studio portraiture

“Natural” captured by Iain Dunne (Click image to see more from Dunne.)

In the most recent portrait image I did in the studio, I set up the main and fill light to emphasize my model’s profile. The main light was responsible for the light on the very front of her nose and the shadows that fell on the side of her cheeks. This was due to the direction. The fill was responsible for the light on the side of her face. I angled it in such a way that we still saw a little bit of shadow–but not enough to illuminate the whole of her face.

studio portrait lighting

“Bejewelled” captured by Sangeeth Sivan (Click image to see more from Sivan.)

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of successful portraiture. Light your subject for mood. Place your subject in a way that enhances that story, and don’t forget to tell them how great they look. A model who receives compliments from the photographer will loosen up, and you will get better photos.

About the Author:
Amy Renfrey writes for She's photographed many things from famous musicians (Drummers for Prince and Anastasia) to weddings and portraits of babies. Amy also teaches photography online to her students.

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Interesting Photo of the Day: Sunset Over Lofoten, Norway

Posted: 31 May 2014 04:39 PM PDT

The internet is unquestionably full of sunset photos, all stunning in their own right. But every once in a while you come across a real knockout. Tobias Richter, for example, has taken this standout image of the sun beginning to retreat into the horizon over the Lofoten archipelago in Norway:

A View of thesunset from Reinebringen Peak. Photo by Tobias Richter. (Via 500px. Click image to see full size.)

Richter managed to create this beauty on a Canon 5D Mark II, using a focal length of 16mm, while setting his aperture to f/16 at a low ISO of 50. The shutter speed was a lengthy full second long. Richter says he uses either a neutral density or graduated neutral density filter in nearly all of his images to help achieve lower shutter speeds and a higher dynamic range.

“It is my intent to capture the beauty of untouched nature…”

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

How this Photographer Made it in the Music Industry (Video)

Posted: 31 May 2014 03:21 PM PDT

Many young photographers dream of getting a big break taking photos for a record label or popular music magazine. In 1968, Jim Cummins, a then amateur photographer, saw that dream become a reality. After taking photos as a fan at a concert in Madison Square Garden, he decided to send some of his favorite pictures to Atlantic Records on a whim:

When Cummins called the label to see if they had received his photos, they informed him they wanted to use two of the photographs for cover art on an Aretha Franklin album and on a Sam & Dave album. The label also gave him steady work photographing over 100 more album covers in the course of the year that followed, leading him to steady work as a concert photographer in one of the music industry’s most revered eras. (Via PetaPixel)


Carlos Santana Playing at Woodstock

Cummins, now 69 years old, decided he wanted to restore the 2,500 photographs deteriorating in his New York City basement. After digging the images out, he began the long process of sorting the photos with the help of Bob Pokress, the owner of an image restoration company.


“The hardest part of the process was deciding which of the photos to work with first. An embarrassment of riches—they are stunning, and most of the photos—the ones that aren’t album covers—hadn’t been seen,” explains Porkess.

After making the selections of which images which will be restored first, the photos will undergo their transformation to new again by hand, one photo at a time.

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Article from: PictureCorrect Photography Tips

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