ATTENTION YOU CAN READ THE UPDATED VERSION OF THE ARTICLE HERE: HDR photography complete guide - Photography Course - Lesson 28
Related Article: Tutorial HDR Photography - How to realize HDR photographies
HDR technique enhances details in a picture and allows achieving truly unique results. It can be carefully used in order to produce most natural results, while a heavier processing would lead to more particular creative results.
The software tools needed to produce HDR images are a RAW file processor (Photoshop is ok), and an HDR specific software, the most famous one is PhotoMatix.
How to shoot the pictures
There are two ways to get source pictures for an HDR processing.The first one relies on the AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing) function of the camera: it allows setting the camera to automatically shoot three pictures of the same subject, each with a different exposure level.
The second one requires a single RAW shot, which will be used to produce three or more images during the post-processing phase.
In order to achieve the HDR picture, open the three source shots in RAW with PhotoMatix. Select HDRI - Generate HDR. The software will ask you to confirm exposure for the three images and will suggest values that can be used in most cases.
When the processing is over, with the function Tone Mapping it si possible to adjust the image tones.
The tone mapping is the most creative step of the procedure and allows giving the own personal imprint to the final result.
By adequately setting brightness of shadows, the intensity of local contrast, the color saturation, white and black levels, the micro-smoothing and the micro-contrast (the enhancement of local details), very original results will be achieved.
HDR with Photoshop
Starting from the CS2 version, it is possible to make HDR pictures with Photoshop, even if results are not so good as with PhotoMatix.
The procedure is the following: select File -> Automate -> Merge to HDR, and then select a series of 3-5 pictures of the same subject, with different exposure levels, and click OK (it is highly recommended to tick the option to auto-align the images).
Photoshop will process the source images and produce an HDR picture. Then the Tone Mapping can be adjusted: go to Image -> Mode and select "8 bits/channel", a dialog window will appear, here set "Local Adaption" and configure as you like.
HDR with Qtpfsgui
Qtpfsgui is a free software (Open Source) that allows creating HDR pictures.
Article translated by Salvatore Castorina - Photo Album Flickr