Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lifting the Mist from the Georgetown, Texas Corner


Now that I'm really vested in to the whole HDR-thing, I wanted to pass along a little tip that I use when I'm just about finished with my post-processing.  I do something I personally call "lift the mist". 

With HDR photography, the finished product always looks a bit flat to me.  I think this is because all of the brights are darkened and the darks are brightened.  It almost looks as if there a fog or a mist that covers the image.  So, I've found a step that really helps make my stuff a look a little clearer (at least to me).  It's a very slight adjustment and you can really see the difference in a full-res image.  I'm not sure if my example below will convey the difference because of its size, but I'll put it out there anyway. You may want to click on them to get the bigger resolution and that may help. So, as an example, I will use my Georgetown, Texas Corner shot:



 
 Before

 
After


So what I do as a last step in my post-processing is, I adjust the exposure in Photoshop ever so slightly.  I create a layer and then go to Image | Adjustments | Exposure.  The settings I generally use are as follows:

Exposure: +0.08
Offset: -0.0020
Gamma: .96

These are all a general starting point for me and sometimes I'll adjust the opacity of the layer if it's too much.  Mainly this darkens the darks a little bit and brightens the brights just a hair.  Really, it darkens more than brightens and your mileage may vary.  But, once I do this, my shots usually get some added depth to them, like you could almost jump into them.  Be advised, you may lose some detail in your darks and some may not like that, but I prefer the overall look to the shot instead of having the slight detail in the dark areas.  To me, it looks as if the fog or mist has been lifted, hence my little term "lift the mist".

Give it a try and see what you think.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tip, Evan. I'll try this tonight on some of my shots.

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  2. Let me know if it works out for you. I'd like to hear what you think.

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  3. you could also try using a curve adjustment layer, with an "S" curve, darkening the darks, lightening the lights. change the blend mode to luminosity if you don't want to affect the color intensity, then adjust the opacity to desired result. ends up about the same as what you do, without getting too geeky. lol. nice work, btw.

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  4. Thanks Kathy! I'll have to give that a try!

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