April 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment
This week, I decided to play around a little more with HDR. (If you're not familiar with HDR, see my "Photo Merging" post for a description, and a bad example.) I wanted to get another interior shot of a window, looking out, such that both the exterior scene and the interior of the window are properly exposed. Regular readers of this blog may remember that interior window shots are a favorite of mine.
In this case, I took 5 exposures, varying each one by about 2/3 of a 'stop' (changing only the shutter speed for each). Unfortunately, when I merged all 5 of them, I didn't quite get the look I wanted. I'm not really sure why, to be honest. On top of that, things weren't all that sharp, maybe because my camera may have moved slightly between shots.
So instead, I did a "manual" merge, taking one exposure which captured the details of the interior (which still looks a little dark here, I know):
...and one exposure which was exposed for the exterior. (Now, the exterior shot here is really just exposed for the trees in the distance. The sky itself is washed out and gray because...you guessed it...it was a gray, cloudy day.)
After manually selecting the properly-exposed areas to use in each exposure, and generating a merged result, I was still left with a couple things to address: (1) the gray sky, and (2) the electrical outlet and cord (which is distracting).
But never fear - Photoshop Elements can take care of all of that.
The electrical outlet was easily removed, using a 'content-aware fill' tool which let me replicate surrounding areas of the image and place them on top of the outlet, blending them in so that it looks right. (It's not perfect, as you'll see below, but it's good enough for this experiment anyway.)
The sky was a more interesting fix. In this case, I actually found another photo of mine which had an "interesting" sky. This is the photo, which also appears in my "Longwood" album:
I could then select the sky area in my window photo, and paste the better sky from the above shot into that area, thereby magically making the sky outside the window a more attractive cloudy blue.
Some subsequent adjustments to saturation, lighting, and sharpness resulted in this final image, with no outlet, a blue sky, adequately-exposed interior, and adequately-exposed trees:
Highly-edited images like this are a source of a little controversy sometimes. Some people are of the belief that photos should never be "Photoshoped". Those people are, of course, wrong. Post-processing (as it's called) is just another way of finishing a photo, analogous to the darkroom techniques that were used in the old days (and still today). Just like movies are edited after they're shot, with sound effects added, etc., and music is "mixed" and "re-mixed" after being recorded, photos need some help too sometimes. In fact, post-processing is such an ingrained part of photography that, I think, mastering its techniques (using software like Photoshop and others) is almost as important as mastering the use of your camera, just as proper darkroom skills were vital to photographers in years past. Now, the photo above has had more than just your typical touch-ups -- I've actually pasted in a piece of another photo (one that I also created) in this case. But the bottom line is that the resulting image is mine, created by me (hence the copyright). It's not being used in a journalistic way (where, I think, the standards for post-processing are understandably different) and is not a misrepresentation of anything. It's just a nice picture, regardless of the steps needed to create it. That's how photography works, and really always has.
Anyway, just as I said the last time I attempted HDR, the final result here is still not a great photo. But I'm just getting a feel for the possibilities of HDR and where I can go with it, as well as other features of Photoshop, and I wanted to share my results along the way.
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