Friday, April 23, 2010

More Drama Using Adobe Photoshop CS5

I don’t know, maybe I’m becoming fascinated by the possibilities of combining a piece of an image done in Adobe Photoshop CS5’s HDR Pro and the rest as a straight image. The sky in today’s image is as it was when we were there and is an accurate recording of that part of the scene. The lighthouse, grounds and any foreground elements have been hit with HDR Pro. Just to make one thing very clear, I do have HDRSoft’s Photomatix software and have used it in the past. I’ve used it as a plugin and had a good time working a few images. It’s just that Photoshop CS5’s HDR Pro is just so much more convenient and simpler to use. I find I don’t fuss around with the sliders as much, with HDR Pro, as I did with Photomatix. In the “read more” I’ll go through which sliders I use and in what order. Literarily, what used to be fifteen minutes of playing in Photomatic is now two minutes in HDR Pro. Let’s not let this be the start of a fight. Photomatix is a good program and served the purpose of popularizing HDR for legends of fans. I sort of liken it to what goes on in the hardware side of computing. We can turn the wayback machine to the year 1993, when I first started with Intel. The big deal then was the introduction of CD ROM drives on computers. The earlier computers had a separate card that was used to provide a hardware assist to be able to read the CD. That didn’t last long. With the introduction of the Intel Pentium Processor, computers finally had enough power to read the CDs using software only. The same goes for several other steps in the evolution of computers on the hardware side. The same thing goes on with software. Before MicroSoft integrated Internet Explorer into the OS you had to get a web browser application. All the fuss the ensued, in my opinion, was dumb. New things are integrated into all sorts of technology all the time. Put anyone under about thirty five into a typical 1950’s era car and they wouldn’t be able to open the windows. They’d be confused by the crank and not having a push button to open windows. Think of today’s cars. Not only do we have keyless entry, but keyless ignitions. Keep your keys in your pocket and the car “knows” it’s you and lets you start and drive the car. Technology marches on. Adding a useable HDR feature is just another step in the line of march. To find out what sliders I use in HDR Pro, hit the “read more”.

The key to Photoshop CS5’s HDR Pro is the Detail slider. It seems to be the engine the makes it go. First thing I do is crank it up all the way to the right. Then, just like I do using the individual Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers, I highlight the value and start walking the sliders back down, holding the Shift Key while tapping the Down Arrow on the keyboard. It drops the value down in ten point increments. When I see the amount of detail I’m looking for I look at the halos around the major elements of the image.

The next slider is the Strength to see if I want more or less of the HDR effect. Then the Radius slider come into play to reduce/remove the halos. That’s just about it. I take care of color saturation in Photoshop, using the Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers (one (at least) layer per color. I use a High Pass Filter to do my sharpening, the Marquee Tool to apply a vignette, and all the little detail type things normally needed in an image.

Like I said, it’s about a two minute process to go through HDR Pro the way I use it. All I can say is “mileage may vary”.