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Thread: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Donald said in THIS THREAD that he would like to see what the sky looked liked 20 minutes later. It's taken me so long to respond because the shot needed a lot more work to get the exposure right. The first image below is out of the camera with only the default RAW processing that Aperture applies. This was the middle exposure of 3 bracketed shots. I've been experimenting with various HDR programs - PSE and other free and trial software packages - and I was not happy with any of the results. Could be my inexperience but I decided that the dynamic range in this particular photo was not so great as to need HDR. Encouraged by Ole's notes in that other thread, I decided to try selectively dodging and burning. The second photo is the result. Here's what I did in Aperture:

    Default RAW processing
    Used the recovery slider.
    Slight adjustment darker on the 1/4 Black/Gray luminance slider
    Selective Saturation and Luminance changes for red, yellow and blue colors
    Separate dodging of the foreground and the barn
    Burning of the tree line and the sky
    Sharpening applied to entire photo

    I am really interested in feedback on the PP on this. Does it look overdone or unnatural? Did I lighten the foreground too much? I was tempted to saturate the sky colors further but the reds became blown and I could not seem to recover it effectively - either by color controls or selectively erasing the adjustment.

    Finally the last photo is the same as the second with a devignette. Is the an improvement or not?

    OOC Raw Processed Only
    Burning & Dodging instead of HDR


    Processed as noted above
    Burning & Dodging instead of HDR


    Same processing with devignette added
    Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Terri

    That is superb work. I think you've processed that beautifully. It would have been very easy to go too far and really start making it look artificial. Instead, you've brought out what was there to bring out and done with subtlety and, in my view, very competently. It looks to me that you've made a good job of capturing the information (getting the photograph) and then making the picture. So, the answer to your specific question is, that in my view, the strength of your work is that you have not made an unnatural looking picture.

    And, for what it's worth, I like it with the vignette in place. I think it just completes the image.

    And the very best bit of all - You've taken on a new challenge (to use Dodge & Burn) and mastered it.

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Beautiful sunset complemented by beautiful clouds.

    The 2 pp's shots look good though I would prefer that the foreground be only slighty lightened from the original. The wide crop works really well.

    Well done.

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Ya done good, Terri!

    Perhaps the best compliment I could provide about your vignette is that I didn't notice it. Indeed, I have never seen the term, "devignette," that you used. I had no idea what you meant until I saw Donald's comment and then reviewed the photos a second time. I should add that I prefer the image with the vignette.

    I don't think you lightened the foreground too much but I do think it's probably at the brightest part of a range of brightness that I would like. That is to say that if you brightened that area a little less I would probably find the image at least as appealing, perhaps more so.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    Indeed, I have never seen the term, "devignette," that you used. I had no idea what you meant
    Oh, good. I'm not the only one. Didn't want to look silly. It was only when I flicked between the two in the Lightbox that I saw the difference.

    I think Mike's comment is right - "Perhaps the best compliment I could provide about your vignette is that I didn't notice it."

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    I sometimes try HDR auto processing, Terri, but I'm rarely happy with the results.

    Combining two or three layers with masks then editing the masks to bring out the best from each layer usually works best for me.

    Two basic methods which I use for the initial processing. Firstly, make two copies of the Raw conversion but with different exposure settings, and anything else which needs altering differently. This can sometimes also be used to lower 'noise' problems without losing overall sharpness by having different noise suppression settings on each layer.

    The second method is to simply shoot bracketed exposures, as with normal HDR shooting, and stack the converted images as aligned layers. Then add masks, as mentioned above. Sometimes referred to as Handmade HDR.

    Often, I find that only two of the bracketed exposures are necessary to create what I require.

    Last Sunday I shot some foggy scenes as a 3 shot bracket exposure but the auto HDR looked terrible, even at the minimum 'natural setting', with false colour problems.

    However, editing and combining just the two normal and over exposed shots worked fine.

    Usually with a final little tweak with Curves etc selectively applied.

    With regard to your images shown here. I think you could have got away with a darker foreground if it was cropped to the same size as the others, or fractionally smaller.

    Probably a matter of personal preference as to whether the foreground looks best totally dark or slightly lightened.

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Problem with reply. Upload failed then two copies were posted.

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Whew! Donald, I'm so glad you like it. Your comments are always so encouraging and I appreciate it. It IS another challenge and it's so nice to have a place to find instruction and encouragement. Thanks!

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Bobo, thank you for commenting. I asked the question because I've gone back and forth about how far to take the lightened foreground. So I appreciate your vote. Thank you!

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Mike, I think about your past comments about subtle vignettes each time I try one. I also appreciate your view on the foreground since it's pretty much where I'm at - on the fence! thanks again!

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Geoff, thanks so much for this detailed response. In PSE I tried the Auto function and wasn't really happy with it. I also tried the more manual HDR function and it did well on the exposure but it left empty spots around the trees and the foreground looked noisy. It seemed like it didn't buy me any more than doing the type of things you describe where I would have more control. some day I will take the leap to using PSE more but I'm not quite there yet.

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Hello Terri, I think the second on is beautiful. You have nailed it.

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    Oh, good. I'm not the only one. Didn't want to look silly. It was only when I flicked between the two in the Lightbox that I saw the difference.

    I think Mike's comment is right - "Perhaps the best compliment I could provide about your vignette is that I didn't notice it."
    But don't encourage her to go back to the earlier vignetted version, or else we will have to add "undevignetting" to the lexicon!

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Hi, Terri;

    I'm not really familiar with Photoshop Elements but it does have layers, does it not?

    Something I inevitably end up doing in Photoshop, after doing an HDR image elsewhere, is blending that image with a non-HDR version (to make the end result more realistic).

    In Photoshop, when you press and hold the "Shift" key while dragging-and-dropping one image onto another, the two images will be exactly aligned (if they are two versions of the same image). So, if you can do something like that in Photoshop Elements and your photos were taken using a tripod, then you can just 'exposure blend' different versions without going through the HDR process.

    Hopefully someone with experience using Photoshop Elements can tell us if that is an actual possibility...

    Beautiful image, by the way, and you did a wonderful job with your post processing. It's always empowering to see when someone knows what they want to do and finds a way to do it with their software!

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    But don't encourage her to go back to the earlier vignetted version, or else we will have to add "undevignetting" to the lexicon!

    That's funny.

    I forgot to respond on this point. I thought it was a common term but maybe devignette is a term that Aperture uses to describe a lightening around the edges as opposed to a vignette that is a darkening. Makes sense to me!

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Quote Originally Posted by John Morton View Post
    Hi, Terri;

    I'm not really familiar with Photoshop Elements but it does have layers, does it not?...

    ...Beautiful image, by the way, and you did a wonderful job with your post processing. It's always empowering to see when someone knows what they want to do and finds a way to do it with their software!
    Yes, Elements does have layers. I am encouraged to find ways to use Aperture to do what I want because Aperture does a good job of managing my library. I like it better than Photoshop's Bridge and although I can choose to edit an image from inside Aperture, it still creates new copies of the image and my workflow is interrupted. I do realize that layers are more powerful but so far the complexity of learning Photoshop as opposed to Aperture which seems so much more intuitive to me has scared me off. I'll get there.... some day... But what you describe seems fairly simple. I'll test it out. Thanks!

    And thanks for the compliments and time to comment!

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Quote Originally Posted by jprzybyla View Post
    Hello Terri, I think the second on is beautiful. You have nailed it.
    Thanks, Joe!!

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Quote Originally Posted by terrib View Post
    [I]maybe devignette is a term that Aperture uses to describe a lightening around the edges as opposed to a vignette that is a darkening. Makes sense to me!
    Sheesh! I looked it up and apparently Aperture usage involves a vignette, a devignette and a negative vignette. Yet none of those terms, based on how I saw them explained while briefly reviewing online pieces, describes what I would call a white vignette, which is a classic look. Indeed, according to all of the definitions that were provided in the pieces that I reviewed, a white vignette is an oxymoron by virtue of the fact that the vignette is defined as a darkening of the image. Somebody needs to tell all the people writing those articles about how to use Aperture that a vignette can be darker, lighter or a complete change of color.

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Quote Originally Posted by terrib View Post
    Geoff, thanks so much for this detailed response. In PSE I tried the Auto function and wasn't really happy with it. I also tried the more manual HDR function and it did well on the exposure but it left empty spots around the trees and the foreground looked noisy. It seemed like it didn't buy me any more than doing the type of things you describe where I would have more control. some day I will take the leap to using PSE more but I'm not quite there yet.
    Using layers and masks can be a bit daunting at first, and you need to keep a clear head when using multiple layers with masks.

    I did another experiment with HDR today. Once again, the auto HDR was well below the personally edited version.

    Part of the problem could be keeping track of which layers are which. I usually start a layer stack with the base image, which is often the first one of a bracketed shoot (the normal shot). Or the shot with most detail/the most difficult to mask.

    Then the other shots (eg.under and over exposed) are stacked as layers on top of the base image and a hide all mask is added to each layer (do any auto alignment first).

    Then editing each 'hidden' layer mask with a soft edged low opacity 'white' brush will allow bits from that layer to selectively appear over the base image.

    I usually rename the layers as I create them; eg, Base layer, highlights, shadows, etc which helps to reduce confusion.

    But it does take a bit of practice before everything starts to make sense. I often have to pause for a little think before continuing!

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    Re: Burning & Dodging instead of HDR

    Terri, I have put a few samples and explanations here Auto HDR compared with manual HDR editing
    Last edited by Geoff F; 23rd November 2012 at 05:53 PM. Reason: link added

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