HDR in example. How I processed this picture.

These are the images before and after post-production. Below I’ll show how I did it step by step. I use a different workflow for every HDR photo, and this is one of them. All manipulations with this image are non destructive. You can go back to any step and change all parameters.

The source (middle image) is a good quality photo and I can accomplish this quality only by converting it in Adobe Camera RAW. There are no underexposure and overexposure parts, and I can create nice looking image for the web. But I prefer to create more dramatic, more bold, and more detailed image. To do this, I assemble 3 images in Photomatix Pro.


This is my  Photomatix Pro settings:

As you see I’ve got a pretty grey image with all details I combined from the 3 shots.

Now I need to process the photo in Photoshop to highlight these extra details.

- First I open the TIFF file assembled in Photomatix Pro in Adobe Camera RAW. Then open image as a Smart Object by clicking Open Image with holding down the SHIFT key. The “Open Image” button will change to “Open Object”.

- Duplicate Layer.

- Change Blending Mode to Multiply:

- Image/Adjustments/Shadows & Highlight:

- Making sky a little bit brighter using Curves Adjustment Layer and Masks:

- Reduce Saturation in Yellow:

- Adding Contrast using Levels, excluding sky:

Change the Magenta tone of the image to a more Yellow tone using Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer:

Now you can reduce the noise of the image using any noise reduction plugins. I prefer the plugin for Photoshop Topaz DeNoise. I didn’t do it for this picture because I prepared it for the web and there is no visible noise on the web size.

The last steps are to crop, reduce the size, and sharpen. For sharpening I like to use this Action.

I hope it was a useful example. If you find it interesting, let me know and I will do more.

14 comments to HDR in example. How I processed this picture.

  • Thanks for sharing the process for your photo. Not everyone knows how to do this and if they do, they might have a different approach. Now they have a new insight.

    The previous comment had some truth, it might have been somewhat dull and boring, but you made it beautiful!

    Some people just can’t stand to see someone share something, without looking for a hidden agenda. They of course usually share nothing,

  • Jeremy Guinaugh

    this was very useful to me. I am good with the camera but have very little experience with this kind of work on the pictures. And you are able to do this so well so anytime you share some tips I am eager to see how its done by you, so please keep sharing more. You have at least one very attentive observer waiting for the days when your tips pop up.

    Thank you for taking the time to share. I do not think it will matter to much but I decided to use Corel’s PaintShop X4 instead of Photo shop, I used to have the whole Master collection adobe suite, but when I updated to windows 7 I lost the program. I never used it but a few times and more for audio and video than for photos. I found it to be not suitable for me at that time. So I am switching to the Corel software products for some time and see how I do with them. The basic ideas are the same between the 2 programs just difference in user interface. But even so I will still use your knowledge and put it to work with my photos and the corel software. So again please keep sharing tips and guides on how your able to do the magical work that you do.

    Thank you,

  • Peter, Thank you.
    I deleted previous comment. I don’t want a trolling trash on my blog. I remember the comments of this guy on G+, he has nothing to say.

  • Thank you, Genia. I always find your “how to do this” posts extremely valuable.

  • Ryan S.

    Thank you for this! Came across this page on StumbleUpon. I’d love be get into this and your guide has been very helpful.

  • Very interesting hdr image manipulation process. It was very useful.

  • Hi Genia, I’m reading your ebook Realistic HDR. I don’t have Photomatix, do you have any tips on settings with Nik’s HDR Efex pro?

  • Most your share’s so simple and easily to follow. I’m your big fan and to be honest I feel more confident in myself when I read your tips. Please keep going, your work make life beautiful and meaning ^-^

  • Hi, Alex!
    Thank you for purchasing our book:-)
    I don’t use Nik HDR, but it does not matter what software you use. Try to retain as many details as you can, and then continue to work in Photoshop

  • Thank you, Marc. I feel more confident when I receive such comments as yours:-)

  • Nikola

    Great tutorial! I’m not surprised, knowing your work-I have your fantastic book ‘Realistic HDR’, but every additional tutorial is greatly appreciated, so-just keep em coming! :-)

    Greetings from Croatia!

  • Thank you, Nikola!

  • With using HDR… I’ve not used it very much. I like what I got out of what you have explained, but my question is… what do you think about using more than 3 images? I have another friend that uses up to about 10 to 12 images. I like the real look and not fake.
    Thank you,

  • Sometimes using more that 3 images allows you to get more details. Make it real or fake depends on your taste.

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