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High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/26/2010 8:24:12 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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Comparisons of Images using different Methods
 
First it has to be said that there is no way that what I saw can be re-created in a photograph.

The sun was setting and the sycamore tree's leaves had tints of gold where the sun shone through.
There were various shades of green and the whole scene was beautiful.
One of those rare moments when it all comes together at the right time.

The other problem was that the scene was passed its very best by the time I had set up the camera.
But it still looked good and seemed a good subject to use as my first serious attempt using  Photomatix Pro.

Original shot:



CS4 only:

Original - enhanced and the perspective corrected, using CS4.



HDR application within CS4 used.

This image was created after several attempts as the help file is totally misleading and incorrect.
The result, and that is the best I could do as no controls appeared as they should have and yes those blue rainbows were worse in the original and further comment would be a waste of time in my opinion.



Photomatix:

HDR using default settings in Photomatix for Tone Mapping.



Photomatix with enhancements set BEFORE Tone Mapping
(CS4 used only to re-size the image.)



Photomatix with enhancements set BEFORE Tone Mapping AND Perspective correction using CS4
(CS4 used only correct the perspective and re-size the image.)



CH4 follow on:

HDR using default settings in Photomatix and now enhanced, using CS4.



Perspective now also corrected on the above image.



Clearly none of them are brilliant and I would be grateful for any advice on how to go about improving the image.

I can supply copies of the original three shots if anyone would like them to work with.

Geoff
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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/26/2010 8:25:18 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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Interim Conclusion
 
The following two images are the ones that I am using for comparison and worth improving.

Currently I prefer to use the onboard enhancement controls within Photomatix 1,  >>....
and
use Paintshop ONLY for perspective correction and for re-sizing to post here.

The photo(s) were taken with a wide angle lens 16mm which is something I would avoid where possible.
The Perspective adjustments do not seem to have spoilt the image too much though.

There would almost certainly have been branch movement which along with the contre-juor to help complicate the process.

1,  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Photomatix with enhancements set BEFORE Tone Mapping
AND
Perspective correction using CS4
(CS4 used only correct the perspective and re-size the image.)



2,  >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Photomatix default settings used to create an HDR using Tone Mapping
AND
then enhanced, and perspective also corrected using CS4.



>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Your views and any help would be most welcome.

Geoff
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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/27/2010 5:17:52 AM   
Doc


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Geoff,

I think you did a great job with the tree using photomatix (I'll abreviate as pm for brevity). It has proper contrast without losing detail in the shadows. It's also very difficult, using pm, to avoid halos in the sky, especially around trees and other objects but your image looks good in that respect too. I sometimes have to replace the hdr sky using one of the images from the bracketed set.

I think of working with hdr images as two processes. The first is the merging of the multiple exposed images to create a single 32bit image that contains all the information of dynamic range and tonemapping, which is used to adjust the image in order to create a rendered image where there is good detail in both the shadows and highlights, more so than any single exposed image due to the limits of todays digital sensors.

When I first started doing hdr processing, I used pm for both merging and tonemapping since CS4 had such a clunky way of doing any kind of tonemapping. I will add that many of the shots I take I don't consider to be of a high dynamic range that would require the hdr process but I like the look of the tonemapped final image.

I learned through a book by Scott Kelby that I could use CS4 to do the merge and then save it as a 'radiance' file with the extension of .hdr. I think CS4 does a better job than pm in this respect. I would then open the .hdr file created in CS4 with pm to do the tonemapping. If you try this, I think you will see quite a difference in the final image. Pm seems to produce a warmer, more saturated image but I prefer the look photoshop produces in the merged .hdr image.

CS5 on the other hand has much improved tools for doing tonemapping with the merged hdr file and I think it produces a more natural look than pm.

I tend to prefer my final image to have a bit of that 'illustration' look to it so I generally use CS5 to do the merge and save as an .hdr file then use pm to do the tonemapping. In all cases, I ALWAYS bring the tonemapped image back into photoshop for further adjustments using levels, curves and of course to reduce noise which can be more obvious in an hdr image.

The following two images show examples of the differences between tonemapping in pm or CS. The first was done in pm and the second in CS5. Which image you prefer depends on the individual image itself and the look the creator of the image wants. The merged .hdr file was created in CS5 then tonemapped using both programs.

CS5 does a much better job of removing ghosting than pm when creating the merged hdr file. Ghosting is caused by movement such as water flowing or that caused by wind.






< Message edited by Doc -- 7/27/2010 5:46:21 AM >


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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/28/2010 2:24:28 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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Thanks for all your comments and advice Doc.

quote:

I sometimes have to replace the hdr sky using one of the images from the bracketed set.

Now that is something That I never thought of.

Strange as I used the following image to do that, not with just the sky but with four or five sections, a sort of home made blending, using layers and CS4 to enhance each.



The greatest problem was in getting a clean separation between the trees and the skyline.
That shot is not too bad as at those points the sky is white anyway.

That, image by the way, is part of a long build up time project of Nephology that I intend to create on VFF.
I probably have enough photos to post a start in a couple of months but it will take a year or two to complete and I may add images as I progress to spread the workload.

I am now realising that it is better to take a single shot followed by a bracketed set of any such material.

I will have a bash at cross integration too.

Geoff

PS I am using a post for each bit of advice or comment so each can be reviewed independently.
Nor am I Post Padding, the long posts usually have VFF timing out.
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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/28/2010 2:48:13 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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quote:

I think of working with hdr images as two processes. The first is the merging of the multiple exposed images to create a single 32bit image that contains all the information of dynamic range and tonemapping, which is used to adjust the image in order to create a rendered image where there is good detail in both the shadows and highlights, more so than any single exposed image due to the limits of todays digital sensors.

The image processing seemed very easy until I read the pm guide.  By then it was too late.

Mistakes:

I let pm convert the RAW file to TIFF files.
(Apparently that is best done in a more suitable application such as CSn or Lightroom)

I also should have taken the photos with a fixed aperture to ensure the same depth of field in each image.

With the Tone Mapping I just twiddle until it looks better.
I don't know which order to use so I do it as I go along on the assumption they are in the correct order.
That lot 'en block' is still just a mystery at the moment.

I should also have corrected the perspective before any enhancement.

I did find a likely looking Guide by Dan... who seemed to have the same problem when he started.
Interestingly he does seem to favour exaggerated photos where as I try to re-create the original scene.

Geoff

< Message edited by geoff_pell -- 7/28/2010 3:45:38 AM >
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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/28/2010 2:59:22 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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quote:

I learned through a book by Scott Kelby that I could use CS4 to do the merge and then save it as a 'radiance' file with the extension of .hdr. I think CS4 does a better job than pm in this respect. I would then open the .hdr file created in CS4 with pm to do the tonemapping. If you try this, I think you will see quite a difference in the final image. Pm seems to produce a warmer, more saturated image but I prefer the look photoshop produces in the merged .hdr image.

I will see if I can give that a go.

Initially it seemed you could just bung it all in pm and sit back whilst it produced a reasonable result that could be enhanced in CS4.

Now I can see the subtle improvements using switch and swapping along the way.

Way to go yet.

Geoff
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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/28/2010 3:21:47 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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quote:

CS5 on the other hand has much improved tools for doing tonemapping with the merged hdr file and I think it produces a more natural look than pm.

I tend to prefer my final image to have a bit of that 'illustration' look to it so I generally use CS5 to do the merge and save as an .hdr file then use pm to do the tonemapping. In all cases, I ALWAYS bring the tonemapped image back into photoshop for further adjustments using levels, curves and of course to reduce noise which can be more obvious in an hdr image.

The natural look is what I want really.

I never thought to bring the pm tone mapped image in CS4 to see if it could be improved, I probably did everything else.

I do like the enhancement layering where the changes can be switched on and off.

Yesterday I spent £15, $22, on a 3Gb data purchase to download CS5 as a trial.
I went to my favourite cafe for lunch after setting my Mobile Broadband to work with laptop in the car.
Magic: upon returning it just had a few kb of the 900 + mb to finish.  That was soon complete.
Disaster: during a lengthy saving the laptop battery became flat and I lost the lot.
Woes: Now it seems I may have to figure some other way of getting it as it is not keen to allow me a second try.
I will give it a try with a different laptop.
More Woes: all my images now have to be refreshed. I should not have used my working laptop for the job.

Sorry, just felt like a whinge.

Geoff
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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/28/2010 3:36:00 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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quote:

The following two images show examples of the differences between tonemapping in pm or CS. The first was done in pm and the second in CS5. Which image you prefer depends on the individual image itself and the look the creator of the image wants. The merged .hdr file was created in CS5 then tonemapped using both programs.

CS5 does a much better job of removing ghosting than pm when creating the merged hdr file. Ghosting is caused by movement such as water flowing or that caused by wind.

I like the first image the best.

Deep blue skies like that are rare in the U/K and only further north in Scotland.
The Alps do sometimes seem so blue once you get around 10,000 feet on a good day.
Looks a super place to take photos.

I have realised just how much variation there is in what each of us prefer.
Fortunately it does not matter as all the finished ones look so good.

What I really want to do is set my camera up in a river/stream valley with a good view further up and above the valley and it looks like CS5 may be part of the answer.

Thanks for all your time and effort Doc.

Geoff
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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/28/2010 6:01:53 AM   
Doc


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Good luck on downloading the CS5 trial. I bought the suite so my download was 15.5gb.
(I forgot to mention that CS5 has much improved noise reduction in the included camera RAW editor).

I use aperature priority when bracketing exposures so that only shutter speed varies. As you mention, that maintains the same DOF. For the majority of my bracketed sets, I do 3 exposures at 2 EV intervals (-2, 0, +2). There are times that 5 exposures would be better to cover the full dynamic range. For the most part, because of the speed of my camera, in good light I can take 3 exposures hand held using the AEB (auto exposure bracketing) feature of my 7D. For more than that, I use a tripod.

For pm, I believe the workflow is to make adjustments from the top down. I have a preset I made that I always use as a starting point and make only minor adjustments after that. I also save the processed tonemapped image as a 16 bit .tiff to bring back into PS. (I also forgot to mention that CS5 has an improved 'lens correction' filter too. Additional camera/lens combos are still being created and there is a template where an individual can create templates to make available for download also).

I look forward to seeing your HDR image of the stream and valley. I might suggest you try a panorama shot in portrait orientation like I did for my Mt San Jacinto image. I took three horizontally overlapping sets of images for it. I created three .hdr files from each bracketed set and tonemapped in pm. I then used CS to merge the 3 tonemapped images into a single panorama and did final adustments from there.

If you are interested, I can make my pm preset available for download for you...or anyone else that may be interested too.

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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/29/2010 2:28:44 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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quote:

Good luck on downloading the CS5 trial. I bought the suite so my download was 15.5gb.

Sorted thanks Doc.

I went by car to the top of the hill overlooking Lancaster and where there is a good 3G signal.
The downloaded went smoothly using a computer with a Vista OS and the whole 1.2Gb download took 50 minutes and no saving delay at the end.
Looks like only W7 does that saving at the end that can cause a problem.

I did a quick look in CS5 and was impressed.  The select tools seem much better.
I did the tree using CS5 HDR PRO and it looked good but was darker when viewed as a finished image.
Maybe it is necessary to set it brighter before completion.
I need to spend a lot more time on it to be fair, but it looks quite good at the moment.

quote:

I do 3 exposures at 2 EV intervals (-2, 0, +2). There are times that 5 exposures would be better to cover the full dynamic range.

My camera has a max of 1 stop not two and I have to take 5 bracket shots and use just the 0 and +-2 images.
My shots do often need 5 images and that will require 9 bracketed shots, but it only takes seconds anyway.
-4 -3 -2 -1 .0. +1 +2 +3 +4 EV.

quote:

For pm, I believe the workflow is to make adjustments from the top down.

Looks like I made the right guess.
CS5 does seem far better than CS4 and I am looking forward to comparing other features.

quote:

I look forward to seeing your HDR image of the stream and valley. I might suggest you try a panorama shot in portrait orientation like I did for my Mt San Jacinto image. I took three horizontally overlapping sets of images for it. I created three .hdr files from each bracketed set and tonemapped in pm. I then used CS to merge the 3 tonemapped images into a single panorama and did final adustments from there.

I have around 15 shots I want to merge, taken is Switzerland two years ago. 5 across and 3 deep.
I did it that way to avoid wide angle shots and it will cover a very wide angle of view.
Micro soft do a stitch application that looked good and I will have to try that alongside other applications.
I look forward to seeing your Ht San Jacinto image when it has downloaded, thanks.

This year I will take a repeat of the area covered by those 15 shots and bracket each 9 times just to be sure.
With 135 shots it will test the camera buffers and my wife as well perhaps.

quote:

If you are interested, I can make my pm preset available for download for you...or anyone else that may be interested too.

That would be enormously useful if you could Doc.
With that information I will be able to work out how it is done and save a lot of time getting through a blind alley.
Look forward to seeing how the tree shot can be improved too.

I hope to get the tree improved, using CS5, your tips and a lot more learning over the weekend.

Thanks again for your help and for your offer.

Geoff
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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/29/2010 4:03:27 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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quote:

I might suggest you try a panorama shot in portrait orientation like I did for my Mt San Jacinto image

That is a super photo Doc.

Dramatic scenes like that are rare in the U/K.

I like the cloud and how you have managed to capture the shadows below the thin clouds.

The whole scene is photo scenery at its best.

That is also a very interesting valley.

I will try and cobble mine together to show the different problems that I will face.

Geoff
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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/29/2010 4:10:45 AM   
Doc


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Out of curiosity, when you take 9 bracketed shots to get a +-2Ev spread, do you use all 9 images...or do you toss out the +-1 and +-3 shots?

Here is the preset I use. Unzip and do a copy/paste typically here: C>program files>photomatixpro3>presets. Now when you are in the tonemapping control panel in pm, it will be found using the preset dropdown menu below the builtin presets that come with the program. Remember, it's just a starting point but for me, many of my images are processed as is with this preset. Most of the tweaking I do back in PS.

http://glewis.us/misc/realistic.zip

BTW, If you shoot in RAW format, the RAW editor in CS5 has much better noise reduction too. You have to try the new spot healing brush too.

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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/29/2010 6:56:33 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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Yesterdays dark enhancement:



Just did a quick slash, bash and trash along with a few techniques improved in CS5



Still darker than the image I saw in CS5.

I can't wait to get stuck in and give it a go from the start.

Geoff
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RE: High Dynamic Range experiments - 7/29/2010 7:03:05 AM   
geoff_pell

 

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quote:

or do you toss out the +-1 and +-3 shots?

I just don't use them.  But with my next Swiss Pan I will sort them out and delete them to save space.

quote:

Here is the preset I use. Unzip and do a copy/paste typically here:

Thanks I will give that a go.

OOPs my wife's train is speeding towards the Station, unlike me.

Geoff
Post #: 14
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