1) Nik HDR Efex – Part 1 (Mix up the ingredients):
Load your bracketed images in Photoshop. Using bridge, navigate to the photos on your computer and select them. Right click, select Nik software, merge to HDR Efex pro.
Now you’ll be taken back to Photoshop that asks you to make some selections in the resulting window. There are not many wrong decisions that you can make here. I’ve shown a screen shot of the selections that i made for this particular image.
Hit ok. Now your Photoshop will mix and churn these images in the HDR Efex plugin and throw out a resultant image.
2) Nik HDR Efex – Part 2 (Sliders all the way):
The resultant image will still turn out to be flat. As all the you see at this point is a merge of the best exposed areas of all your bracketed images. From here is what you take control and create your own HDR image.
There are various sliders that you will see on this screen here to personalize your HDR output. I’ll tell you about those that I focus on the most. There is no right way of using these sliders. Just make sure that your processing doesn’t over cook your image. Over processed and baked images to eyes are what is burnt over cooked food is to taste buds. You don’t want to make images that look like mauled corpse of an image. How ever you use these sliders, just try to keep the image as closest to reality as possible. Just try to blur the line between reality and fantasy and you will create a surreal effect.
HDR Method: Here you will see two things. A drop down menu that says “natural” and a slider that says “Method Strength”
- Method Strength: This slider will help you choose the intensity of your HDR processing. Most of my images give a better out put within the range of 40-60% very occasionally i use 100%.
- Processing Effect Menu: Above method strength you will see a drop down menu that reads “natural” by default. This is the menu where you can customize the kind of effect you want to give to your HDR image. It’s a global adjustment. Browse through them to see how they affect your image. Honestly for me it’s the natural setting that does the trick.
Tone compression: This slider is responsible in making your images give out that psychedelic feel. More the slider to right, more trippy your image gets. Play around with it until your happy with the output. Again, do not over do it.
Exposure, contrast: Nothing much to talk about them. They work just they way their names suggest. Use them to you liking.
Saturation: This slider can make the colors of your image pop out or just wound it to such an extent that the scars bleed color (as cool as that sounds, I can assure you that no one wants that in their images). Honestly guys, do not over do this slider, use it just to that extent that the colors pop out and yet the images retains its reality or just looks surreal. Structure: This slider will enhance the details such as edges and contours in the image.
Blacks, Whites (And no, I’m not being racist): These sliders will help you in adding the right amounts of black and white spots in the image. That’s all I can tell you about them. Use them yourself and you’ll get the hang of it. It’s just that I’m not able to find the right words of explaining in detail what do these sliders do.
Below I’ve shown a screen shot of how I’ve adjusted the sliders for this shot.
Playing around with the above sliders will help you make global adjustments to the image. That means, your adjustments affect the entire image. In the next step we’ll see how to make adjustments at particular selective points in the image. I’m gonna go get a cup of coffee before we move on. How about you?