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

One Comment

  1. JBowman February 7, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    Fantastic Peter. I never would have even thought of doing that. I normally don’t prefer the Grunge look either, but there is a place for everything so I never rule it out. I definately like your version better than the presets. A much ‘cleaner’ look. Thanks.

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