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Thread: Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

  1. #1

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    Tyler Berge

    Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

    I know that HDR or high dynamic range has to be more than a single exposure to be a real HDR. I can't do that if it is action shots. I can't have the action freeze and wait until I am done bracketing. So I am wondering if you can take a single RAW exposure and maybe process it in photoshop. I know it wont be a real HDR, but I'd like to try. Doing so, I could try to take the action shot with a single exosure in RAW and then do the bracketing of the same scene after ward of course on a tripod. Any other ideas? Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Re: Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

    As you say, Tyler, you can't get true HDR from one shot.

    However, I regularly do what you suggest and produce two copies from the same Raw file with different exposures then combine them by using a mask and some careful editing with a low opacity soft edged brush.

    Exactly how you get the two Raw conversions will depend on your software. It is quite easy, although initially confusing, with Photoshop CS5.

    Which software do you use?

  3. #3
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    Re: Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

    Hi Tyler, there are several options available, depending upon the situation at hand. If the image isn't too contrasty, you can open it in tone-mapping software such as Photomatix and get some of the benefits that way. Have a look at this image of a sunset at a beach taken as a single shot HDR by Trey Ratcliff for example: http://stuckincustoms.smugmug.com/Po...686_CLNPH-A-LB.

    Another way, as you have realized, is to take a properly exposed shot of the scene, then do the bracketed shots. In post processing use tone-mapping to merge the images, and as the last step, configure the brightness, contrast, and coloring of the first shot and blend the action parts back into the tone-mapped image.

    Another process that can work, depending upon the image, is to take the single image and using the original, an overexposed copy and an underexposed copy of the original in tone-mapping to get the pseudo HDR image.

    Lastly, you can take the previous approach, but instead of tone-mapping, simply blend the shadows of the overexposed copy and the highlights of the underexposed copy with the original, taking the best of each for the final result.

    I've used each of the methods and sometimes combinations to achieve a pleasing result but the results can be very image specific so you'll need to experiment to see what works best for you with any specific image.

    Hope this helps!

  4. #4

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    Re: Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    As you say, Tyler, you can't get true HDR from one shot.

    However, I regularly do what you suggest and produce two copies from the same Raw file with different exposures then combine them by using a mask and some careful editing with a low opacity soft edged brush.

    Exactly how you get the two Raw conversions will depend on your software. It is quite easy, although initially confusing, with Photoshop CS5.

    Which software do you use?
    I use photoshop cs5 extended.

  5. #5

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    Re: Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

    Tyler. If you haven't already worked out how to transfer Raw conversions as Smart Objects, this is what I do.

    After basic editing, transfer the 'first' Raw image to your main editing window but hold down Shift key while clicking on Open Image. This will create a Smart Object.

    Right click on the Layer (thumbnails etc) and choose New Smart Object via Copy from the drop down list. Double click on this Smart Object Layer Thumbnail which will reopen the Raw Converter and allow you to set new adjustments.

    When your new adjustments are complete, click OK. You should now have two Smart Objects with different Raw adjustment settings which can be combined.

    To do this, I add a Mask to one layer and adjust the mask opacity (with a low opacity soft edged brush) so that parts of the layer become 'transparent' and you only see the best bits.

    It should become easier to understand after a bit of experimentation, particularly if you are already familiar with using layers and masks. In reality, it is easier than it sounds - probably.

  6. #6

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    Re: Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

    Here is an example. Exposing for the white areas is bound to create excessive shadows and bracketing the exposure wasn't really an option due to subject movement.

    Original

    Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

    And the same image from two different Raw conversions.

    Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

  7. #7

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    Alan Pezzulich

    Re: Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

    If you have a moving subject but a stationary background try taking a bracketed series and using the deghosting feature in CS5.

    Alan

  8. #8
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    Re: Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

    I have recently been reviewing the capabilities of the NIK Software package. Their HDR Efex Pro application is part of the Complete NIK Collection abd allows you to either do an HDR composite from multiple images or a pseudo HDR from a single image.

    http://www.niksoftware.com/completec...n/en/entry.php

    The collection is quite expensive unless you are qualified for a student/teacher edition which reduces the price considerably. I can neither recommend, nor not recommend the NIK package since I have not personally worked with it. However, I have attended a presentation which really awed me. I would imagine that there is nothing that this software can do than an expert cannot do in Photoshop CS5 but plug-ins like this allow non-experts to build a finished product without the requisite skill and time.

    I don't think that I would buy the Complete Package solely for the HDR Efex Pro application but, there are a lot of other really neat applications from NIK. A photographer can also buy individual applications from NIK.

  9. #9

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    Re: Can you produce an HDR action shot from a single raw file?

    I do use some of Niks softwares. I use HDR Efex pro, Viveza 2, color Efex pro, silver Efex pro, and Dfine 2.0. All of the softwares I have found use of especially HDR Efex pro. It enables you to add control points and edit certain parts of the image. This feature you can do with most of them. Viveza 2 is my favorite. You can add control points to colors or textures of the image and edit that part of the image only without effecting the other colors or textures in the image. I absolutely love Niks softwares. I use it mostly for real estate photography.

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