I continually find myself drawn to HDR photo’s. HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range”, and usually consists of 3 or more photo’s taken of the same scene at different exposures. Typically, one is underexposed by at least 1 stop, one is correctly exposed, and 1 is overexposed by at least 1 stop. Then, all of the exposures are combined to produce one final photo. I prefer those that don’t look on the extreme side of “overcooked”, but even the extreme ones have a certain attraction for me. One of my favorite HDR inspiration’s is Brad Hedgey, a fellow DPS 365′er who mostly produces HDR work.
Over the course of the past few years, I’ve tried using GIMP, an image manipulation program. (if you want to know the complete details, you can find an explanation here.) I was able to make it work, but not as well as I’d hoped. Recently, I tried using the HDR ability of Photoshop Elements 10. It still did not produce the look I was going for so I decided to do more research and see what I could find.
I came across an open source program called “Enfuse“, which merges different exposures of the same scene to create an image that appears to have a higher dynamic range of tones. Narrowing down my research, I used two different sources to create a final HDR type image so I thought I would share what I found.
I discovered this post on “PhotoshopSupport.com”. It walks the user through each step of the process for combining HDR photo’s in Photoshop Elements. In the article the writer refers the program, “Enfuse”, as an alternative to combining the photos in Elements. Additionally, I discovered how to create HDR images directly in Lightroom, which is my favorite post processing program for my photography work. I was delighted with this find and immediately downloaded the plugin for Lightroom. You can find the directions here.
I chose a couple of scenes that I had already taken 3 exposures of in preparation for creating an HDR photo. I’ll note here that it works best if you use a tripod to take those pictures vs hand-holding your camera. Hand-holding allows for the alignment of the photos to be off, one picture to the next, and makes the conversion a little less “clean”. I did not have my tripod with me so had to go for the hand-held way of working. I imported the photos into Lightroom 3, selected the 3 I wanted to combine, applied the plugin for Enfuse by following the online directions, then took the photo into Photoshop Elements 10.
Once in PSE, I worked my way through the tutorial on “Photoshopsupport.com”, saved the picture back to Lightroom and made a couple more adjustments and the conversion was complete.
The developers of the “Enfuse” program have placed a 500 pixel size limit on photos converted through their program until the user makes a donation and receives a registration code. Once the code is entered in the correct box in the plugin program, the user is then able to produce whichever size photo they desire. The two photos I converted are at the 500px size, making them low quality images. I’m off to go make a donation so that I can start using the plugin to its fullest.