HDR, and what i know about it – page 3:

So far we have shot our bracket images, merged them using Nik HDR Efex, made global adjustments from the arsenal of sliders available. From the adjustments that you globally make you will realize that while some spots in the image look good others still remain flat or get over cooked. Nik HDR Efex is equiped with something called as control points that will help you make selective adjustments to selective spots in the image. Using this feature we’ll try to correct our image as far as possible. Don’t worry, if all else fails, there’s always photoshop. 😉

3) Nik HDR Efex – Part 3 (Control points):

Below the method strength slider, you will see a menu that says “selective adjustments” and below it a concentric circular image, that looks like a CD, that says “add control point”.

This will add a control point in the image helping you to make selective adjustments to that particular region around the point. Let’s see how to do this.

  • Click on the concentric circles icon
  • Click on the region on the image to make selective adjustment. This will add a control point. I’m going to select this part of the image where I feel the sky is a bit too bright.
  • Notice that the short two letter abbreviations that you see here are nothing but the same sliders that you made the global adjustments on. Use them in the same way to make your selective adjustment
  • You’ll also see a slider on the control point without any name. This is the radius slider. Use it to select the area which your adjustment will cover.

Keep on repeating the above steps at different locations until you get a satisfied output. If you spend some real good time on playing around with selective adjustments, you will straight away get a noiseless, color bleed-less, over cooked-less, over exposed-less, too dark-less, in simple words, a pretty image without all those lesses and others that i didn’t mention. When you are done with your adjustments click that ok button on the bottom of the HDR efex window. This will take you back to photoshop showing your resultant HDR image.

Photohop fail-safe

At this point you should have a fairly good image which you will feel proud to show off to your friends. But before you do so, take a good look at the image and ask your self “am i really happy with the output” If your answer is a no or a may be, then you probably have some noise in the image and you have to correct it using layer masking technique in photoshop.

Now usually, some of the “real” photographers that i know are very photoshop-phobic. They’re are like “A good photographer never uses Photoshop.” I just ignore those people because I feel processing is the future. Even your digital camera, be it a SLR or a Point and shoot, processes your image when you click it. If you really want to flaunt your “no-photoshop” skills I would suggest you to go back to photo reels and dark room.

Layer Masking correction:
Take a look at the HDR image and identify the noisy areas. Now take a good look at all the bracket images, and see which of the images contains the best exposure for the noisy areas in the HDR image. Import the HDR image and that bracketed image which you are going to use to correct the noise, into Photoshop layers. Now use the layer masking technique to poke through the noise in HDR image and reveal the original area of the bracket image behind. Once you’re done with it, move on to the next noisy area repeat the same procedure. Repeat this until you are done clearing all the noise. The correction for the noise from HDR image can be found in any one of the bracket images with which we began the process of HDR merging in Nik HDR Efex.

Note: As you go on practicing HDR you’ll soon realize that you can correct all the noise using any one bracket image and layer masking options, usually by tweaking the flow and opacity of the brush you use for layer masking.

At this point you should have a fairly good HDR image. From now on it’s just the finishing touches that you’ll be giving using some additional software. Like Nik colour efex, or Topaz adjust.

For this image i used the glow filter in Nik Colour efex and played around a bit in topaz adjust to get this final out put.

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