Daily Archives: February 6, 2012

Double Process – The Better Grunge HDR?

Double Processing

Readers familiar with this site know I am not a big fan of the “Grunge” Style of HDR. I don’t say don’t do it, it’s just not my cup of tea (I think I have been watching Wheeler Dealer, the British show, too much this week, Mate!). Although I do admit I would like to have some fun  playing with a grunge style but every time I do my “Fans” or my customers give it a big thumbs down and say they like my more natural or “As the eye sees” style of HDR. And I agree for the most part, I do what works for me.

But what if I were to do a Grunge style, what would it look like? Well, I don’t think it would look anything like the Grunge presets in popular HDR programs. But how would I do it? With a little known technique that well started for me, as a mistake: Double Processing.

Double processing? What’s that? Well quite simply, it is taking your image and running it through your tone mapping…Twice!

So let’s take a look at a couple images from my portfolio down as I normally would do with pretty much my normal process in Photomatix Pro 4.1

The first one is from the old artillery bunkers above the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands

The Next Image is from an abandoned filling station in Vista New Mexico.

Now let’s see what these images look like using the standard Grunge Preset in Photomatix.


 They certainly have that look. But they are just too Mid-toned for me. How about if we make them look surrealistic but with some better tonality throughout the image?

So how do we double process in Photomatix. It’s really quite simple. If you are using the Standalone version, after you do your first round on normal tone mapping, you hit process and it applies the tone mapping. Usually at this point you hit save. Well instead, we just press the Tone- Mapping Button again and it takes the image right back into the tone-mapping screen and applies the previous settings again to the image. Or you could change them up a bit if you wanted to go for a different look.

If you are using Lightroom and the image gets taken back into Lightroom after the tone-mapping, simply export that single image again into Photomatix.

For mine, I just applied the same settings again (Strength 70, Saturation 70, Light Adjustments: Natural, Gamma -1.20)

Here are the results


Ok not bad, but let’s take it just a bit further and bring in some more of the detail that the Grunge style has. We’ll do that by using some different software. Topaz Adjust 5.

Have I told you how improved the new Topaz adjust 5 is? They have some REALLY useful presets and I’ve begun using some of them on standard images to make what I get in camera look more like what my eye sees when I am shooting. For this example, I just used the “Detail” preset in Topaz Adjust 5, Just to increase our detail and add a  bit of edge contrast.


And there you have it, MY version of Grunge. Might not be your style, might not be something my customers would even buy. But it was fun and a different way to do things for those times you might want to go over the top a bit. Or if you’ve already been going over the top, a better workflow that may improve your images.


Okay, now where did I put my Cup of  Tea mate?


Hope that helps

Anatomy of a Shoot – The Grab

Anatomy of a Shoot – The Grab

Sometimes…your best shot of the day is just a grab.
Ocotillo California
I hadn’t even pressed the shutter once on my trip and I was already pissed off. I was 100 miles from home and I left my wallet home. No money, No Credit Cards, No Drivers License. Luckily they didn’t ask for ID at the Border Patrol Check Point ( No I wasn’t crossing any border, we have Border Patrol Checkpoint within the state) It wouldn’t have been fun sitting around while they checked my status.
Piss off point two. I was told there was some great germination of desert wildflowers out at Fossil Canyon ( Shell Canyon) in an area of the desert I don’t normally go to. So I thought I should check it out for the coming weeks when the deserts (hopefully) come alive with beautiful wildflowers to bring a different andcolorful look to the often mono-toned desert landscape. So I drive 100 miles…and there is nothing, nada, zip, zero. I have no clue what they were talking about in a web piece I had read. It was as barren as I have seen.
So, I parked and ate lunch anyway and then decided to check out Shell Canyon since I have never hiked there before. It didn’t look promising but I was there and nothing much else to do. Maybe there was some hidden gem up the trail. So after lunch I just grabbed my 5D and a 17-40 L Lens and nothing else for a quick walk into the canyon. Hopefully there would be something interesting. There wasn’t. It was pretty run of the mill as far as desert canyons go. Pretty drab. NO plant life really to speak of. Not even any really interesting formations to shoot. So after about 1/4 mile I turn around and head out.
Pretty dejected on the way out, as I near the mouth of the canyon I see this light on a single rock. It looks pretty cool but I don’t think much of it. But I stop and handheld, I fire off a 3 exposure +-2 set and I continue on my merry way.
I spent the rest of the day in Agua Caliente, a part of the Anza-Borrego desert that isn’t visited by many but there are some nice areas of fish hook cactus, teddy bear chollas and agaves. It’s early in the season so nothing spectacular for color but there was some beautiful light just before mountain sunset (Remember when shooting in a canyon or area surrounded by mountains that the sun will set behind those mountains about  an hour  or more before actual sunset) and I also was able to get a couple shots of coyote and jack rabbit which was nice. I’m usually not able to get as close as I did to them.
The day ended on a good note because for me, any day in the desert is a great day. This one was no different. The end of the day is always beautiful there. Even if there is nothing to shoot.
I got home and after dinner began to do my sort of the days shoot. I didn’t shoot much HDR because there wasn’t a need to. The light the rest of the day was quite beautiful but not super high in DR. So I processed a bunch of Black and White shots of cactus and the like. I got a few nice shots but nothing earth shattering. At the end I went back and processed that 3 shot I did at the mouth of the canyon.
I processed in Photomatix and the color image was nice but thenI took into Photoshop and I processed it using my convert to grayscale action I made…and there it was… that was the IT in it. There was the light you look for and it was at a point in the day where light is usually it’s worst – Midday. It was just a quick grab when there was nothing else to shoot. But that was the shot of the day. The one that makes everything worth the effort. Light – Found
Be Ready, you never know what you will find