Tuesday, June 14, 2011
HDR Without HDR Software
How to expand the dynamic range of a single exposure
Okay, I admit it. I used the title for this column to grab your attention. Of course, there are times when using specialized High Dynamic Range (HDR) software is a must to create a true HDR image—very high-contrast scenes require multiple bracketed exposures to produce a single HDR shot.
However, if the contrast range of a scene isn't greater than about three ƒ-stops, you can greatly expand the dynamic range of an image without specialty HDR software using Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, Photoshop Lightroom or Apple Aperture.
The opening image for this column was created in Camera Raw from a single JPEG file, the middle exposure from a series of pictures taken at +2 EV, 0 EV and –2 EV.
Well, first of all, I always shoot RAW files. To save time when processing HDR images, however, I convert my RAW files to JPEG ones before working in HDRsoft's Photomatix or Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro.
Secondly, when it comes to getting JPEG files into Camera Raw, all you have to do in Photoshop is go to File > Open and select Camera Raw in the Format window. When you do that, you can open JPEG and TIFF files in Camera Raw, and take advantage of all the cool adjustments.
Rick Sammon, has a bunch of apps; the latest one is Rick Sammon's iHDR. Check it out on his website at www.ricksammon.info.