The Lowdown on HDR - Part V


So far in the series on HDR we've discussed how to produce images a pro would be proud of so you can create great canvases for your wall. In an earlier article we mentioned the possibility of tone-mapping a single file – this week we'll talk about the reasons you might want to do that and provide some examples to inspire you.


Making an image sparkle


We've all taken images that sit in our catalogue for ages in a kind of limbo state. We're not sure if we like them enough to edit them (or we've had a go and can't quite get it right), but we're a little bit too attached to them to bin them. This may be why photographers need such large hard drives! What if there is a way to process them that can add a little sparkle? When you discover that a single RAW file can be tone-mapped to bring out depth or add an otherworldly feel, you'll be diving into that back catalogue for weeks!


The following image was sitting around for ages as a fine example of what we're talking about. It's a great capture of a chaotic moment, but with a little tone-mapping you can see the top image has come alive. Sometimes the elements are against you, but with skilful post-processing you can tell the story and catch the eye.



Have some fun!


Okay, okay, so we've spent most of this series telling you to tread carefully with your processing in order to maintain as much realism as possible, but sometimes, just sometimes, it's okay to go a little bit crazy and have some fun. These are the images that you wouldn't necessarily print onto canvas, but you simply process for a giggle. That doesn't mean you turn those sliders to 100%, but a little surrealism doesn't hurt anyone on occasions!


Take a look at this shot below. Yes, it's overdone and we'd probably not hang it on the wall or in a gallery, but the image reminded us of an old painting so we thought we'd enjoy ourselves, loosen the shackles and go for it. Tone-mapped from a single RAW file, we've given it a surreal and, hopefully, painterly touch.



Next week, in our final article in this series, we'll show you how you can use tone-mapping and layers in Photoshop to add some punch to your skies for your landscapes and seascapes.  It's a technique that we really feel will improve those big and dramatic canvases for your wall.