- Straighten, Crop, Clean-up
- Decrease Noise
- Set a Black & White point
- Balance your Tone
- Sharpen Your Image
Balance your Tone
Our HDR programs do a pretty good job in tone mapping our images and placing tone as we desire…or really as THEY desire. We can get a pretty good balance but quite honestly the program really doesn’t know everything that we want or it may not be able to accurately access the image for what tones should be where. We end up with images that look “dirty” with blackening or darker tones across something that is the same tone throughout.
We can make some adjustments but they act globally and may not get into the areas we want. To get all the tones in a certain area look correct. Sometimes the algorithm of HDR programs makes an assumption, that the top of your image is bright sky and the bottom of your image is a darker tone. So they apply things in a Gradient that is stronger at the top than at the bottom, which can work fine for say a sunset, but what if you have a tall building protruding into the sky, the top of that building is more likely to be darker than the bottom of it, especially as we up the grunge effects
Now with some programs such as Nik HDR Efex Pro 2, they allow for the use of “Control Points” Not only do they select a specific area but they also pick specific tone ranges to make adjustments to. (Very cool tech there)
But regardless of program we can also make these local adjustments in our finishing programs. In Lightroom we can use the Adjustment brush to smooth out tone. In Photoshop we can use the Dodge and Burn tools to make things Lighter (Dodging) or Darker (Burning).
Don’t be afraid to use the Dodge and Burn tools and it’s something that you should learn to use, they really come in handy. To get you started, select your Dodge or Burn Tool and then in the tool bar, set the opacity and fill to 10%. You then can choose what tone you want to either lighten or darken; Shadows, Mid-Tones or Highlights (You make a Shadow lighter by working on that, not brightening the highlights) Using just 10% allows you to work an area over gradually
Dodged and Burned and selective adjustments
The image looks less dirty or black smuged
Next: Sharpen your image