My HDRs look like PooDRs – How to fix the common problems
For people that are just starting out and even for some that have been doing HDR for a while, there are some common problems that people run into. But without having used the myriad of controls in their HDR software, most people don’t know which way to turn to remove some of these unsightly demons. So let’s run through a few of them and their cures.
Note: None of the after images represent a finished image; they are merely to show reversal of a problem area
Haloing – Probably the most common problem with HDRs. Haloing is a bright areas surrounding an edge, You will most likely see them in areas of high contrast; The edge of a building against the sky or tree branches and power lines against that same bright condition.
Here is an image I made have haloing, along side it are the controls as they are in Photomatix.
This is a case of too high on the Lighting adjustments (Surreal) and also too much Strength.
Making changes to just these controls gets rid of a lot of the haloing
We changed the Lighting effect to Natural and Strength to 50
This occurs when large areas of White now become gray. This happens because the HDR program is trying to make everything a Midtone if you make a white (or a black) a midtone it turns gray.
Now I think you will start to notice a common thing with fixing problems. To fix this problem, We will once again take a look at the Lighting Adjustment and Strength This time the lighting Adjustment was at Surreal + the setting that will attempt to make most parts of the image Mid-toned and the strength was at 100.
Again we moved the Lighting Adjustment to Natural and the Strength down to 70. But we made a couple more changes. This image had the Gamma set to .80, without getting into a technical discussion of what gamma is, basically consider it a midtone curve. If we move the slider to the left and down to about 1.20 we will bring more contrast into the Midtones. Then by adding some Black Level, we bring up the shadows in our image.
The opposite of Halos are Burnt edges, this is a darkening on areas of contrast.
But wait, The Lighting Adjustments are at Natural and 100%, shouldn’t that be good? No in this case it isn’t, it is trying to make the mid-tones shadows but simply lowering the Strength to 70% and our Gamma to .90 and we smooth out the tones across the image
Returning to our initial image of the Lifeguard Garage, this is probably how I would end up processing the image
Detail Contrast 0
Lighting adjustment Natural
Smooth Highlights 0
White Point .250%
Black Point 2.22%
Micro Smoothing 30
Saturation Highlight 3.8
Then just a levels adjustment layer and a little dodging and burning in Photoshop
Those are just a few of common problems people have or maybe they don’t even know they have and a few ways to fix them and yes, there are more than one way to fix any of them but these are some of the most effective measures because they go to the source of the problems.
As I think of other problems I will throw them in as a quick tip
Hope that helps,