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Some personal thoughts on HDR

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  • lovefilm
    I take a slightly different approach to HDR than some on this list. I almost never use tone mapped images as is directly from HDR output. Generally, I have
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 3, 2008
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      I take a slightly different approach to HDR than some on this list.

      I almost never use tone mapped images "as is" directly from HDR
      output. Generally, I have been happy with my results from all of the HDR
      programs tried (knowing, of course, their limitations). But I never
      expect a "perfect" image, no matter how good the source material is.
      And while my first brief test with enfuse was exciting and promising -
      I probably would not use that output as is either without all the
      other stages of image processing.

      For me, HDR is simply another tool to use in image enhancement. And I
      almost always use some form of manual contrast blending with HDR tone
      mapped output.

      Sometimes I create several tone mapped panos to layer over my "base"
      exposure. This allows me to bring out certain areas of the image
      that might not have been as easy to enhance via traditional photoshop
      methods. Layer inks are especially useful in helping to isolate
      interesting areas for composite.

      So for me, combining several layers of differently tone mapped panos
      is like painting an image onto canvas from colors one has mixed
      themselves. It also affords other opportunities to artistically
      explore the image and bring out different interpretations or moods.

      PTgui Pro makes it very easy to generate several source panos: tone
      mapped, single exposure, and HDR. It takes a little longer of course,
      but one might as well have this output as each image can contain
      something of use. And just because one produces HDR output does not
      mean that it must be used right away, whatever the temptation to
      justify the additional time spent preparing it.

      Consider forward compatibility: As software evolves and especially as
      image editing applications fuse more with video & 3d (as Photoshop has
      started to do) then you will more easily be able to work with those
      HDR files directly, and perhaps in ways yet to be defined.

      After all, one really good reason to shoot in Camera Raw has always
      been to keep an archive of all that data - so it is there to be used
      when future applications and printing process can fully take advantage
      of it.
    • pra9matiste
      Good words on hdr here, thanks LoveFilm You seem to practice both QTVR and HDR photography properly... i sadly cannot afford the time to achieve this level.
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 5, 2008
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        Good words on hdr here, thanks LoveFilm

        You seem to practice both QTVR and HDR photography properly... i sadly
        cannot afford the time to achieve this level.


        HDR CAN be very interesting for those wanting to be creative and
        experimental, and for B&W though.

        But I'm learning QTVR mainly to photograph houses for real estate.

        i have the usual problem of blown out/shadows windows, walls, etc. you
        get indoors, and in reverse, outdoors.
        There is the major issue of TIME, as i won't be charging high rates,
        so batch processing, actions and automations are top priority.

        That's why i came to look at HDR (shame on me)
        Then Matt reminded me that there is a lot i can achieve without HDR...
        so i made a shot with hdr
        http://static.virtuel-immobilier.com/santis-ptgui.html
        and without hrd
        http://static.virtuel-immobilier.com/appenzell6.html
        please note that both VRs are badly put together - i'm still
        struggling to achieve the right resolution-compression


        to the point: what is the fastest way of pos-processing high contrast
        VRs to an acceptable level ?





        --- In PanoToolsNG@yahoogroups.com, "lovefilm" <lovefilm@...> wrote:
        >
        > I take a slightly different approach to HDR than some on this list.
        >
        > I almost never use tone mapped images "as is" directly from HDR
        > output. Generally, I have been happy with my results from all of the HDR
        > programs tried (knowing, of course, their limitations). But I never
        > expect a "perfect" image, no matter how good the source material is.
        > And while my first brief test with enfuse was exciting and promising -
        > I probably would not use that output as is either without all the
        > other stages of image processing.
        >
        > For me, HDR is simply another tool to use in image enhancement. And I
        > almost always use some form of manual contrast blending with HDR tone
        > mapped output.
        >
        > Sometimes I create several tone mapped panos to layer over my "base"
        > exposure. This allows me to bring out certain areas of the image
        > that might not have been as easy to enhance via traditional photoshop
        > methods. Layer inks are especially useful in helping to isolate
        > interesting areas for composite.
        >
        > So for me, combining several layers of differently tone mapped panos
        > is like painting an image onto canvas from colors one has mixed
        > themselves. It also affords other opportunities to artistically
        > explore the image and bring out different interpretations or moods.
        >
        > PTgui Pro makes it very easy to generate several source panos: tone
        > mapped, single exposure, and HDR. It takes a little longer of course,
        > but one might as well have this output as each image can contain
        > something of use. And just because one produces HDR output does not
        > mean that it must be used right away, whatever the temptation to
        > justify the additional time spent preparing it.
        >
        > Consider forward compatibility: As software evolves and especially as
        > image editing applications fuse more with video & 3d (as Photoshop has
        > started to do) then you will more easily be able to work with those
        > HDR files directly, and perhaps in ways yet to be defined.
        >
        > After all, one really good reason to shoot in Camera Raw has always
        > been to keep an archive of all that data - so it is there to be used
        > when future applications and printing process can fully take advantage
        > of it.
        >
      • lovefilm
        ... Hi pra9matiste. First - I m not sure if your statement about high contrast VR s refers to high dynamic range, or to images that have few gradations of
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 5, 2008
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          > to the point: what is the fastest way of pos-processing high contrast
          > VRs to an acceptable level ?

          Hi pra9matiste.

          First - I'm not sure if your statement about "high contrast" VR's
          refers to high dynamic range, or to images that have few gradations of
          mid tone grey values, as that is what high contrast generally means.

          For truly high contrast images, plain old fashioned PhotoShop skills
          are what's needed - particularly with the curves tool.

          But if you are referring to increasing the dynamic range of your
          images without using true HDR methodology, then there are two quick
          techniques you can try:

          The first is manual contrast blending in which two versions of the
          same image with different levels applied to them are blended together
          through the applications of gaussian blur, desaturation, and an
          overlay ink layer. Jook Leung posted a thorough tutorial on this
          procedure and nicknamed it HDR for dummies:

          http://360vr.com/HDRforDummies/

          Another method of achieving similar results is even easier - simply
          use PhotoShop's Shadows & Highlights tool. This essentially does the
          same thing as manual contrast blending and provides numerous controls
          when the advanced option is enabled.

          Beware though that changes made using this tool are destructive,
          meaning it changes the image data directly and can not be used with an
          adjustment layer. So make sure to apply the effect to a copy of
          your original layer.

          Personally, I like to use both techniques in combination. Make a copy
          of your original image and apply a modest level Shadows & Highlights.
          Then use these two layers and proceed to Jook's HDR for dummies
          technique.

          The Luminous Landscape also has some great articles on contrast blending:

          http://www.luminous-landscape.com/

          You can see both techniques as applied to your previously posted
          sample JPG (dark version):

          The first image was adjusted using Shadows & Highlights:

          http://www.gotlibdesign.com/GD/vr/apenzell_santis/Shadows_and_Highlights.jpg

          The second pano uses both your original dark image and the above
          Shadows and Highlight version with the HDR for dummies technique to
          produce the following:

          http://www.gotlibdesign.com/GD/vr/apenzell_santis/SH_and_HDRdummies.jpg

          Once you get the hang of it you will be surprised how quickly you can
          generate a mock HDR image. Just understand that you can only go so
          far with such techniques. And if you are really having a problem with
          blown out exteriors then you simply have to spend the time and effort
          to get the results you desire - whether it is through bracketed
          images and full HDR compositing, or through manual contrast blending
          and selectively chosen multiple exposures.

          However, I question the need for having perfectly exposed exteriors
          visible through windows when shooting interiors. Just because one can
          do it via HDR doesn't mean the composition always requires it.
          Sometimes the landscape outside can be distracting from what you
          really want your audience to focus on. And sometimes that blast of
          pure white light can work to your advantage - providing a sense of
          freshness, and ensuring that it is the room, and not what lies
          outside, that people remember.

          For me, a more troubling factor is the change in color temperatures
          that results from mixed lighting. I find that lot more difficult to
          deal with when shooting interiors than dynamic range.

          HDR is a trap that is easy to fall in. I know - I'm still trying to
          haul myself out from its depths. But like many exciting techniques,
          it must first be abused before it can be used....

          Peter G.
          http://www.gotlibdesign.com/GD/vr/VRshowcase.html




          --- In PanoToolsNG@yahoogroups.com, "pra9matiste" <laurentsj@...> wrote:
          >
          > Good words on hdr here, thanks LoveFilm
          >
          > You seem to practice both QTVR and HDR photography properly... i sadly
          > cannot afford the time to achieve this level.
          >
          >
          > HDR CAN be very interesting for those wanting to be creative and
          > experimental, and for B&W though.
          >
          > But I'm learning QTVR mainly to photograph houses for real estate.
          >
          > i have the usual problem of blown out/shadows windows, walls, etc. you
          > get indoors, and in reverse, outdoors.
          > There is the major issue of TIME, as i won't be charging high rates,
          > so batch processing, actions and automations are top priority.
          >
          > That's why i came to look at HDR (shame on me)
          > Then Matt reminded me that there is a lot i can achieve without HDR...
          > so i made a shot with hdr
          > http://static.virtuel-immobilier.com/santis-ptgui.html
          > and without hrd
          > http://static.virtuel-immobilier.com/appenzell6.html
          > please note that both VRs are badly put together - i'm still
          > struggling to achieve the right resolution-compression
          >
          >
          > to the point: what is the fastest way of pos-processing high contrast
          > VRs to an acceptable level ?
          >
          >
        • pra9matiste
          ... http://www.gotlibdesign.com/GD/vr/apenzell_santis/Shadows_and_Highlights.jpg ... This is were the question and problem lies - Time - Time to learn you ll
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 7, 2008
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            --- In PanoToolsNG@yahoogroups.com, "lovefilm" <lovefilm@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > > to the point: what is the fastest way of pos-processing high contrast
            > > VRs to an acceptable level ?
            >
            > Hi pra9matiste.
            >
            > First - I'm not sure if your statement about "high contrast" VR's
            > refers to high dynamic range, or to images that have few gradations of
            > mid tone grey values, as that is what high contrast generally means.
            >
            > For truly high contrast images, plain old fashioned PhotoShop skills
            > are what's needed - particularly with the curves tool.
            >
            > But if you are referring to increasing the dynamic range of your
            > images without using true HDR methodology, then there are two quick
            > techniques you can try:
            >
            > The first is manual contrast blending in which two versions of the
            > same image with different levels applied to them are blended together
            > through the applications of gaussian blur, desaturation, and an
            > overlay ink layer. Jook Leung posted a thorough tutorial on this
            > procedure and nicknamed it HDR for dummies:
            >
            > http://360vr.com/HDRforDummies/
            >
            > Another method of achieving similar results is even easier - simply
            > use PhotoShop's Shadows & Highlights tool. This essentially does the
            > same thing as manual contrast blending and provides numerous controls
            > when the advanced option is enabled.
            >
            > Beware though that changes made using this tool are destructive,
            > meaning it changes the image data directly and can not be used with an
            > adjustment layer. So make sure to apply the effect to a copy of
            > your original layer.
            >
            > Personally, I like to use both techniques in combination. Make a copy
            > of your original image and apply a modest level Shadows & Highlights.
            > Then use these two layers and proceed to Jook's HDR for dummies
            > technique.
            >
            > The Luminous Landscape also has some great articles on contrast
            blending:
            >
            > http://www.luminous-landscape.com/
            >
            > You can see both techniques as applied to your previously posted
            > sample JPG (dark version):
            >
            > The first image was adjusted using Shadows & Highlights:
            >
            >
            http://www.gotlibdesign.com/GD/vr/apenzell_santis/Shadows_and_Highlights.jpg
            >
            > The second pano uses both your original dark image and the above
            > Shadows and Highlight version with the HDR for dummies technique to
            > produce the following:
            >
            > http://www.gotlibdesign.com/GD/vr/apenzell_santis/SH_and_HDRdummies.jpg
            >
            > Once you get the hang of it you will be surprised how quickly you can
            > generate a mock HDR image. Just understand that you can only go so
            > far with such techniques. And if you are really having a problem with
            > blown out exteriors then you simply have to spend the time and effort
            > to get the results you desire - whether it is through bracketed
            > images and full HDR compositing, or through manual contrast blending
            > and selectively chosen multiple exposures.
            >

            This is were the question and problem lies - Time - Time to learn
            you'll right say, but also time in post-processing.
            I've managed to output descent hdr images, using either bracketed
            images through photomatix, or simply blending/masking two exposed images.
            But it takes time. If this is the only way, fair enough.
            I cam to ask my initial question on the forum relating to high
            quality- high definition VRs that i could see included an element of
            hdr, such as the VRs on 360precision, and i would like to add, the
            images i admired on your own page.
            These are the quality i'm aiming for, and i must assume by now, that
            this work did require a series of post-processing actions.



            > However, I question the need for having perfectly exposed exteriors
            > visible through windows when shooting interiors. Just because one can
            > do it via HDR doesn't mean the composition always requires it.
            > Sometimes the landscape outside can be distracting from what you
            > really want your audience to focus on. And sometimes that blast of
            > pure white light can work to your advantage - providing a sense of
            > freshness, and ensuring that it is the room, and not what lies
            > outside, that people remember.
            >

            True ; then again, many web user want to see through the windows of
            houses, and treat any hidden/close window as suspect

            > For me, a more troubling factor is the change in color temperatures
            > that results from mixed lighting. I find that lot more difficult to
            > deal with when shooting interiors than dynamic range.
            >

            Yes, another are i am investigating right now, like, using several
            flash strobes together with ambient light, all to avoid having to go
            through the hdr predicament.

            > HDR is a trap that is easy to fall in. I know - I'm still trying to
            > haul myself out from its depths. But like many exciting techniques,
            > it must first be abused before it can be used....
            >

            I guess i must study, practise and be more patient !


            > Peter G.
            > http://www.gotlibdesign.com/GD/vr/VRshowcase.html
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > --- In PanoToolsNG@yahoogroups.com, "pra9matiste" <laurentsj@> wrote:
            > >
            > > Good words on hdr here, thanks LoveFilm
            > >
            > > You seem to practice both QTVR and HDR photography properly... i sadly
            > > cannot afford the time to achieve this level.
            > >
            > >
            > > HDR CAN be very interesting for those wanting to be creative and
            > > experimental, and for B&W though.
            > >
            > > But I'm learning QTVR mainly to photograph houses for real estate.
            > >
            > > i have the usual problem of blown out/shadows windows, walls, etc. you
            > > get indoors, and in reverse, outdoors.
            > > There is the major issue of TIME, as i won't be charging high rates,
            > > so batch processing, actions and automations are top priority.
            > >
            > > That's why i came to look at HDR (shame on me)
            > > Then Matt reminded me that there is a lot i can achieve without HDR...
            > > so i made a shot with hdr
            > > http://static.virtuel-immobilier.com/santis-ptgui.html
            > > and without hrd
            > > http://static.virtuel-immobilier.com/appenzell6.html
            > > please note that both VRs are badly put together - i'm still
            > > struggling to achieve the right resolution-compression
            > >
            > >
            > > to the point: what is the fastest way of pos-processing high contrast
            > > VRs to an acceptable level ?
            > >
            > >
            >
          • Matthew Rogers
            Hi Pra9matiste, ... But the panoramas on my homepage have nothing to do with HDR, they re simply well exposed single images stitched together, nothing more,
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 8, 2008
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              Hi Pra9matiste,

              On 7 Jan 2008, at 23:41, pra9matiste wrote:
              > This is were the question and problem lies - Time - Time to learn
              > you'll right say, but also time in post-processing.
              > I've managed to output descent hdr images, using either bracketed
              > images through photomatix, or simply blending/masking two exposed
              > images.
              > But it takes time. If this is the only way, fair enough.
              > I cam to ask my initial question on the forum relating to high
              > quality- high definition VRs that i could see included an element of
              > hdr, such as the VRs on 360precision, and i would like to add, the
              > images i admired on your own page.
              > These are the quality i'm aiming for, and i must assume by now, that
              > this work did require a series of post-processing actions.
              >

              But the panoramas on my homepage have nothing to do with HDR, they're
              simply well exposed single images stitched together, nothing more,
              nothing less. If achieving extended dynamic range is so important to
              you then you need to purchase an S5Pro. Ths S5Pro will give you an
              additional 2-stops to play with and can make all the difference.

              Matt
              360Precision.com
            • Keith Martin
              ... A very good point. Exposure blending and HDR are techniques for working with exposure ranges and coming up with a final image of some sort. But, as with
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 8, 2008
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                Sometime around 8/1/08 (at 13:05 +0000) Matthew Rogers said:

                >the panoramas on my homepage have nothing to do with HDR, they're
                >simply well exposed single images stitched together, nothing more,
                >nothing less.

                A very good point. Exposure blending and HDR are techniques for
                working with exposure ranges and coming up with a final image of some
                sort. But, as with most things in life, if you get it as right as
                possible in the first place then you have little or (with luck)
                nothing more to do in the final stages.

                The answer is to expose correctly first, and use exposure blending or
                HDR if still necessary.


                >If achieving extended dynamic range is so important to
                >you then you need to purchase an S5Pro. Ths S5Pro will give you an
                >additional 2-stops to play with and can make all the difference.

                Thanks to your advice that's what I got. And yes, it really is a very
                nice camera to use.

                Most of my panos are made with single exposure sets. Sometimes I do
                use exposure blending techniques to merge bracketed shots or 'bracket
                processed' images (thankyou S5Pro!), but it is important there to
                realise that this can produce results that lack a totally believable
                range of contrast. Sometimes I boost this with curves or levels in
                Photoshop afterwards just to recover some of the strength that
                blending can lose.

                I'm still looking forward to using Enfuse, but it would be just
                another part of my image-making suite of tools.

                k
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