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People Moving

South Street Seaport, NY - Aug 2009 - Water St Gourmet Deli - By Mike Savad
South Street Seaport, NY - Water St Gourmet Deli - Print - Mike Savad
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Let's Begin
editing raw files - HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
Let's begin:

For Lesson 1 - we are going to create an outdoor store front scene with moving people.

Why was this shot as an HDR? I wanted to get detail inside the building and still get the neon signs and the brickwork detail. I might be able to manage it as a single shot or maybe not, why take the chance.

3 EV Settings needed
after editing raw - HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
The object here is to adjust each image so it is looks optimal.

Shadows - EV -2
- Try to brighten it as much as possible, but don't destroy the dark parts of the image. In this case, I wanted to keep the detail in the brick. And possibly the people walking, as they are sharp here.
Midtone - EV  0 -  Has details in the sign, awning, etc, brighten as needed to extract as much detail as you can.
Highlights EV 2 -  This layers has the girl in the shadow, but she isn't that sharp as she is moving and the exposure didn't compensate for that. 

Tone curve - This will allow you to adjust everything with a finer detail, play with the sliders on each image separately until your satisfied on how it looks.
HSL/Grayscale -  Each slider adjusts one color. I use Luminance, and when I have to, the saturation or hue. Sliding it to the right adds more brightness to that color, to the left, more darkness. Sometimes you can get more detail from this one tool then you can with the other controls. I can darken skies, enhance their shirts, darken the awning, etc. There is no wrong or right, it's up to you to decide where it looks best.

When your done, open them all up.

You can sort of see the differences now, the shadow layer: I was able to get detail and color in the bikes, people, and brick. Middle layer: has detail upstairs (sometimes the bright layer is too soft due to speed, etc, so it's good to be able to do this). and the last has more detail in the store.

Now we place each of these on top of another, and use the Auto Align too set to auto (using CS3 or CS4). Be sure to save it and do it often. My old computer would crash often. It doesn't matter in what order you place your images, you can adjust that later, be sure to close the other images. You don't have to save them. You can always open them again later (and you may have too if you need more detail).

Choose your brush
let's start editing - HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
Let's start editing. I arranged my order to: shadow, mid, light. To speed things up I'll choose the layer with the most detail, and work down through my layers. I'll be using a grunge brush that I modified, it will have a nice spread Download Here . And to note, I don't use all those brushes, I use the first 15 or so.

Make a mask (in the layers palette you'll see a small box with a circle in it - this will make a mask). Choose black paint on a paint brush, then draw in where you want more light to be. I started with the upstairs then moved around from there. I avoided painting over the people as they won't be there in the next frame, try to just feather them in.

It's important to note that  your only trying to balance out the tones in your image.

Be selective in what you want to reveal. Each exposure has a certain amount of detail. Sometimes the reflections are more pronounced, or there might be an object that moved from one frame to the next. For example, the second layer near the chairs has what looks like reflection from a window. I didn't want that, I like the thought of open air seating, so I'll leave the detail black. At the same time this particular brush allows me to add texture where there wasn't any before, (that grunge effect).

Showing just the mask
what i masked out - HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
Layer one is complete. The left side is complete, the right side shows what I removed to get that look. You can see I hit some spots but not others. Some are just a touch here and there. The people I couldn't hit because they move and you would see the ghost there.. I know it's hard to tell because I blocked the window with that huge brush screen, but you should be able to see detail in the windows now. And as it turns out the girl in the doorway didn't move that much so I was able to get more detail from her in both layers.

Compress that layer down CTRL-E, Save it, then put up another mask for the next layer, the bright layer.

Detail Loss
to soft - HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
The brightest layer is too soft. While I get some detail I must have moved the camera when shooting, and can't use it. But not all is lost, I always shoot in RAW, and I can take the 0EV and brighten that up.

Better Detail
better but noisy - HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
This is the 0 EV layer, just brighter then how I originally made it. It's better than before but there is more noise, this is ISO100 but pushed up heavily. This is why it's typically better to shoot in a set of 3, but that really only works well in still life's, however the brightest layer has the least noise. Instead of using the original bright layer (EV 2) - I will instead use the 0 EV layer that I just brightened, and use that for my person detail layer. After loading and placing it into my image, I used Auto align again, and of course saved it.

It makes a Difference
differnce - HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
Sometimes it doesn't line up. Actually often it doesn't line up. While Photoshop does a good job it often misses on fine detail, or the slight rock of the camera angle.

Set the top layer to Difference - Can you see the embossed like effect? You don't want this. If you paint this layer as it stands it will show blurriness. Choose the move tool, and on the layer below then nudge it with arrow keys until the image looks flat like it does below. Find a high contrast layer if you can't find a good spot to line up. I do this for every alignment, just to make sure everything registers correctly.

Lined Up
should look like this - HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
Turn off Difference, then paint in the areas you want, just like you did in the above step, when that's completed, push Ctrl-Shift-E this will flatten the image. Save it.

Now that everything is adjusted, all the layers are now one, we can straighten it.

Select Ruler, and place it on a vertical or horizontal area. Choose something you think should be straight, Be aware though that some things should be crooked,  things have perspective distortion that may or may not be fixed. Try to find something that naturally hangs, a string, water in a glass, something that gravity would pull down. Click on one spot of that straight line, and pull it down tweak it until you like it. Then go to Rotate Canvas and the angle that the canvas needs to rotate in will already be entered, hit enter.

Straighten it
Straighten it - HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
I used the building next door as my straight point.You can sort of see the ruler line. The line is plumb with the building, however the lines don't look straight to the eye. We need to place guidelines in places that look like they need to be straightened.

CTRL-R  inserts the RULER at the top and side. From here use the MOVE tool move the tool over the ruler, hold the button and you'll drag a straight line. The top controls the horizontal, the side is vertical. Holding ALT will flip the line the opposite way, this will make it quicker when you place these lines. Technically you can drag a line with any tool, but the move tool will allow you to adjust the line once placed.

Fix Perspective
- HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
I placed a horizontal line in an area I already think is straight looking as a control.  Another went on that metal glass railing that should be straight in real life. This scene  has some perspective angles that I won't mess too much with, The scene moves away from me, and is on a slight hill.  I placed horizontal lines in case I need them as a guide to keep those lines from moving too much. Use the FREE TRANSFORM to tweak it. Hold the shift key to keep one side from moving out of skew. Hold the CTRL (with the shift) to grab just the corner and pull or push the box until it looks straight to you. It's better to push it in, then pull it out, as this can over stretch the image causing some loss of detail. 

- HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
Oh Poo....

The basic rules to photography state that you shouldn't have things block other things. I mostly want that Pizza sign, The green one isn't that important. But if I include it I'll have that red sign in the way. I could rebuild the sign, there are enough letters to add an E T, but I really don't want to. A general rule to live by - If it takes too long to do, it probably isn't worth doing. But I do like the scene and I've come so far in this tutorial to throw it away now. So we'll have to crop it out. If you look carefully at this image, blue lines were placed where I want the crop to be. However I need to move the Pizza sign down, and the remove the corner of the car, out. Always make a new layer if your going to screw around like this.

Move the sign down:

I lasso'd the brick along a straight line, and around the sign. CTRL-J made a new layer for it, then moved it down and lined it up with the other brick. Use a mask to help blend it together, just like I did above, color in the areas I don't want.

Moving the Sign
- HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
The upper half is blended in. I went all the way around the sign and blend in the hard edge. But there is a spot below. The red arrow is pointing to an area that has a bright layer underneath, making it impossible to simply blend them together. To fix it I will compress the layer into one, and use the and the Clone tool and the Heal Tool, and blend it in that way. You see it's a lot of work to do such a basic thing, which is why I would normally scrap the shot.

Final Crop
- HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
Here's the final crop, it's tighter than before, I extended the white brick up a bit.

Always clone out what you need too - BEFORE you crop in case you need bits from other areas.

At this point  the HDR part is done, but we still have to tweak the colors and shading. I don't like the lighting, it's harsh. The tones are too hot, and some are washed out.

Choose  Selective Color - in the Layer palette, You'll see sliders that move left and right. There are 7 colors, white, black and midtones. Each color let's you control the CMYK values, you can precisely control what the colors look like. Adding more black in a color will increase the tone of that color. Sliding the Red to the left will make it more red, to the right I it should be more Cyan. I always start on RED, controlling the bottom slider (black), and make it darker, this will make the red richer, I'll add some red and yellow for warmth and maybe a little more red to make it more red. Do this with each color (dropped down in the little menu it has), Choosing white will let you add more detail in the whiter areas. Use Black when you want to remove color cast in the shadows, it's more useful in CYMK mode.

 But you can get a balance of an Idea. The shirt has more color in it, the whites are darker with more red. Overall it's warmer.

- HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
Next we control the light. I often place a dark layer like this to highlight the areas I want my viewers to look at first.  The action pack I included has something called HDR Shading - Dark Layer - this will produce something that looks like this.

Some shading done
- HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
We start on the black layer mask, and color in the areas I want to show light coming through. It's up to you where you want the light to be, but you want to try putting the light where it mostly was before. Leaving the non essential parts of the image in the shadow.

So far so good
- HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
So far so good, yes it's dark, it's supposed to be, we'll fix that. I still have to to the birds. The people were lightly hit. Next we'll use the OVERLAY layer, on white, using a smaller brush that's round in shape. We want to burn the shadow, and dodge the highlights with it. It's hard to tell in these two images what I changed,  in this shot it's quite subtle.

Overlay Layer
- HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
The changes: The bikes are a bit brighter, the face arms and such are brighter. A little more shadow in the bag and so forth. Next we use the vivid light layer, with a tight small brush I will simply adjust the highlighted edge of things that would normally have edge contrast or glisten. This subject really isn't ideal for this method, but it will help the sharpnesss in the end.

Vivid Light
- HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
Again you won't really be able to tell the difference in this scale. I enhanced the gold in the Pizza sign, the bike tubes, awning, some of the food items, etc.

Brightening the image:

Photoshop -  CS3 hold ALT CTRL ~ (tilde)- in CS4 ALT CTRL 2 - this will select the luminosity layer, you should see the outline of what it lasso'd.  hit CTRL J to make it into a new layer. Adjust this layer with curves and such on this layer. Then a separate one on all of the layers. For this image I used the Action - Softlight HDR  - then adjust the curve until I got something better. The lower on the scale you go, in the shadow, the less of an effect there will be. Just play with it. This action will warm up the colors and help blend noise and hard lines..

Color Adjustment
- HDR Tutorial - Mike Savad
I tweaked the colors again in selective color - as a layer.


Copyright - Suburban Scenes by Mike Savad 2012

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