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How to Create a Manual HDR

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Jul 16

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Working Manually

HDR photos are made using more than one photo merged together for an effect. They typically look very saturated and processed, or a little flat. Today’s episode is all about creating an image that still looks natural, with details in the highlights and shadow areas. This gives you a lot of control over how much of an effect you want.

This image was composed of 3 photos, one overexposed, one under, and one properly exposed. The overexposed photo gives us information to use in the shadow areas while the underexposed does the same for the highlights. Make sure you don’t move the camera when shooting for an HDR image, use a tripod!

There is a specific order that works best when doing this technique in photoshop; use the  underexposed photo as the base layer, then the overexposed, and then the correct exposure.

Framed Network

Framed  is a network of shows helping photographers improve, and just like Phlearn its FREE to sign up.  Aaron will be featured in tomorrow’s episode! See everything from lighting to post-processing. Don’t miss it!

  • David Platt

    Couldn’t you just use “Apply Image” on the masks so that the overexposed layer is visible where the bottom layer is too dark?

  • Alan Grech

    Couldn’t you use the “Blend if” tool to blend the different exposures together? Thanks

  • Aaron Nace

    You guys are learning so much! You could use these tools, there are always many ways to get things done in Photoshop.

  • simpsonbrothers

    Here is an example of my favorite HDR shot that I’ve taken:!i=1148273520&k=AshJo&lb=1&s=A

  • SxS

    Ive honestly never been a fan of HDR, mainly because its so overdone and not rendered well, flat and cartoonish. I’m glad you presented a more balanced method that produces natural and realistic images. I have a friend who shoots fashion images in HDR,and the results are typically horrible. So Ill share this with him.

  • iamjohnwhite

    You must be viewing some pretty terrible ‘hdr’ styled images.  I see TONS of HDR that have a huge amount of depth too them.  Depends on the angle of the shoot.  Also, a lot of HDR pushes the boundries of realistic and fake to get that WOW factor.  It depends on which style of HDR you look at.  Here is a great example of some depth shown in an image along with pushing the boundries of realism and fake which I personally think looks awesome.  It may look fake for compositing at time, but you will get a much greater stun factor for people looking at it then just a plain old shot. 
    (opinions expressed in this comment are that of myself only)  

  • Rubén Chase

    A couple months ago I make my only HDR from a single RAW file, revealing it at three different exposures (-2,0,2), and merging those three pictures with photomatix. The result is kinda weird, but it’s a good method to not spend much time on it

  • Ovi
  • Debbie Taylor

    I absolutely love HDR. I use Photomatix and Photoshop with Topaz plug-in. Here is one of mine:

  • Alan Grech

    Thanks Aaron. Your PRO Tutorials are truly amazing! Learnt so much from them. 

    Used the blend if manual HDR and it works quite well…the resulting image is a little flat and needs to have contrast added to it…on the whole, I prefer it to the photomattix blend :)

  • 1bradkaiser

    Just joined thanks for the video.  Would this be possible to do by under and over exposing a single raw photo? or do you definitely need 3 different photos.

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