Faux HDR Dancer


This is a shot from Halloween in Union Square – 2004 – that I just had all sorts of problems with in terms of dynamic range, and noise.  I just processed this by making three virtual files in Lightroom, one under, one normal and one over (from the same raw file) and then ran through image fusion and image mapping in PhotoMatix Pro (which I just bought for $99).

No adjustments after that in Lightroom, though I can see a few things that I would change.  The point being that it’s quite plausible to work from one raw file with their tonemapping process and achieve better results than I was ever able to get through photoshop.  It gives you control over things like specular highlights – smoothing them out, or sharpening them as needed, and similar options for detail in the darker areas.  I am using the Lightroom plugin, which is included with the Pro version.

You select your files and use File/Plugin Extras and export to Photomatix.  From there you have two basic ways to go, HDR or Image Fusion.  You’ll have to read through their documentation which is very good to see the differences, but so far Image Fusion has worked well for me, especially with shots where there is movement.  I have a bunch of shots that I wasn’t able to get acceptable results from that I’m going to try this method on.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

3 thoughts on “Faux HDR Dancer”

  1. I’m curious why you chose to not crop out the bright street lights left of image. I’m not usually a big fan of cropping, but it seems like this image would benefit in this case – I find the lights way distracting and of not much value to the overall image. (IMHO).

  2. Because these are experiments – and I’m interested in showing the what highlights look like with the HDR processing I’m doing. That’s the only reason.

  3. Dave, Thanks for the mention, and I’m pretty sure you will be very happy with PhotoMatix Pro. It does HDR a lot better than PhotoShop. I thought I would add a couple of tips here for you and other readers. Because HDR is a blending of images, you really need a tripod and a static scene. Motion does not work well in creating an HDR image. It can be done, but it is a huge amount of work. For the bracketing, try two stops with aperture priority. You want the shutter to make the bracket not the f-stop, otherwise you change the depth of field during the exposures. I usually set the self-timer for 2 seconds, press the shutter release and step away from the camera. It fires all three automatically and properly bracketed. Then, process the images in PhotoMatix with your HDR image options. Here is a photo tip I gave my readers comparing a regular image with HDR. There is audio with the post. http://www.sojournchronicles.com/2008/08/high-dynamic-range-photos/ and my first effort with the free trial PhotoMatix, http://www.sojournchronicles.com/2008/08/testing-photo-software-for-new-directions/.

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