irfan, hussain, thereddotman, the red dot man., HDR, High dynamic range, Nikon L120, Nik HDR EFEX, koyambedu, CMBT

HDR, using Nik HDR Efex – page 3:

So far we have shot our bracket images, merged them using Nik HDR Efex, and made global adjustments from the arsenal of sliders available. You can refer back to page1 and page 2 to review what we have done until this point.

From the adjustments that we 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 what are 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.

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 two letter short codes 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 radius which the control point’s adjustments will cover.

Spend some good time to take a very good look at your image and decide the spots that require correction. Place your control points on these areas of your image  to selectively adjust that particular spot. 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 some 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.


At this point you should have a fairly good image which you will feel proud to show 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.


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.

In our example which we have been seeing I want to correct the skin tone of the lady that I was talking about. It’s just wrong. I’ll fix it using this image. I think the correct skin tone of the lady is close to correct in the 4th exposure which is taken at +1ev. That’s the reason I normally shoot 5 exposures. You never know in which exposure will the correction need will be available.

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.

To open images in photoshop layers, select the images in bridge, same way like we did before, and go to tools -> Photoshop -> Load files to Photoshop layers.

Once the images are loaded in Photoshop, you will be able to see the layers in the bottom right of the Photoshop screen.

  1. Keep the HDR image on top and the original exposure below it. You can click drag the layers to set the position of the layers.
  2. Select the HDR image layer by clicking on it in the layers.
  3. Click on the icon that looks like a square with a circle in it to add the layer mask.
  4. Now select the brush tool from the tool bar on right, or hit letter ‘B’ on your key board. Make sure that the fore ground colour is black and the back ground colour is white.
  5. With the brush tool paint on the areas where the noise needs to be corrected on your HDR image. Adjust the opacity of the brush to get better results. For this one, I will leave the brush at 100% opacity, select the soft edge brush, and paint on the lady in black. What we are doing here is, we are poking through the HDR image to reveal the original exposure which is below it.
  6. Continue doing this to all the regions that need correction and finally you will have a noiseless image.

When you are done correcting errors merge all the layers by right clicking on the layers and selecting merge visible.


From now on it’s just the finishing touches that you’ll be giving using some additional software. I have an arsenal of softwares and plugins and I have a fun time playing around with them. For this image I used the glow filter in Nik Colour efex and made some adaptive exposure adjustments in topaz adjust to get this final out put.


4 thoughts on “HDR, using Nik HDR Efex – page 3:

  1. Amazing use of these tools and instructions too. I have the entire NIK suite…with your tutorial I’ll be able to do so much more. Thank you and these are just incredible images!!

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