How To: Single RAW HDRs


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crazzy88ss

So I got some interest from my Mt. Diablo HDR threads (links to a photo forum) and decided to do a super quick tutorial.

Two things you'll need.

1.) A RAW image. If you have a DSLR or a high end point and shoot, you can put the camera into RAW mode. What I'm going to show you won't work with .tiff or .jpg.

2.) Photomatix. You can get it here. It's $100 for the application or $70 for the photoshop plugin. You can use the demo there, however it puts a slight watermark on all of the images.

LETS START

So you have your original RAW file, unedited. It's kinda cool, but it doesn't really have any pop to it.

hdrbefore.jpg

(It's the jpg version for the internet. RAW images from my Nikon D50 are FILENAME.nef)

Open up Photomatix.

Find the file (I usually export the .NEF RAW to my desktop) and simply drag it to the Photomatix icon on your Dock. Photomatix will decode and process the RAW file and you'll get something that looks like this;

hdrphoto.jpg

Kinda crazy looking, but you're almost done.

Once you have it open in Photomatix you just need to tone map the image. On the tool bar click "HDR > Tone Mapping" or CMD + T for OSX users. Now you'll see this:

hdrtone.jpg

Hey, we're getting somewhere now! Here you can play with all of the settings. I've always done the editing in the Details Enhancer mode.

I usually like a more natural setting, but using the Light Smoothing slider you can get it to look really crazy.

Once you have it how you like it, just click "OK" and you're set. Export it to a .tiff or .jpg file and there's your single RAW file HDR shot!

If you're going to continue to edit it in Photoshop or something else, I'd recommend a .tiff to help keep the compression down.

hdrafter.jpg

For some of my other HDRs, you can look here; http://flickr.com/photos/stephenkirsh/sets...57603835199291/ or search for HDR on flickr.com.

Another thing to keep in mind is that MULTIPLE EXPOSURE HDRs will give you better quality as they will cover a wider range of lighting in the image.

Edited by crazzy88ss
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Brandon

I didnt know you could process RAW files like that. Thanks for the tip. Saves time

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funkymunky

I absolutely love HDR images :)

However my camera does not possess the RAW option :(

Can I convert the image to RAW to then do this? Or will that mess it up?

Thank you for the tutorial mate :) Beautiful shot

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crazzy88ss

The whole point of RAW is that the image is not compressed. Converting JPG to RAW would be useless because the JPG is compressed, and you lose a great deal of detail. You should be able to do MULTIPLE exposure HDR I believe.

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funkymunky

Coool - that's what I thought would be the case

I'll look for some tutorials on that :)

Cheers

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+StevoFC
The whole point of RAW is that the image is not compressed. Converting JPG to RAW would be useless because the JPG is compressed, and you lose a great deal of detail. You should be able to do MULTIPLE exposure HDR I believe.

Shooting in RAW format has nothing to do with compression actually.

The whole point of shooting in RAW format is so that you can do all of the processing outside of the camera.

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Aperture
Shooting in RAW format has nothing to do with compression actually.

The whole point of shooting in RAW format is so that you can do all of the processing outside of the camera.

Which has everything to do with Compression. You take what the sensor see's, and save it uncompressed.

Doing the processing with the uncompressed file is merely an advantage.

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Draconian Guppy

Thanks!!! very good simple and basic tutorial... Thanks for sharing! that's the whole point IMO for posting your pics, to show how you got it done!

offtopic:does the plugin work the same way?

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crazzy88ss

Not sure... anybody else know?

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metro
Thanks!!! very good simple and basic tutorial... Thanks for sharing! that's the whole point IMO for posting your pics, to show how you got it done!

offtopic:does the plugin work the same way?

The plugin for Photoshop works mainly the same way, but I absolutely hate tonemapping a single file. It's not HDR, just a tonemapped image. Been doing HDR for a long time, starting to get away from it more and more as time progresses. I have nothing against it. It's just time to focus on something else so that is what I am personally doing.

I have also found that Photomatix does a poor job of processing RAW files. RAW files don't have a tone curve applied to it since it is just raw data from the sensor. Before I would ever do any form of tonemapping on an image I would process the RAW in my workflow and then see what I can come up with. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it really sucks. I throw away a lot more HDR than I keep, but I also have very high standards for myself and won't post stuff that looks like plastic like some people do.

Just personal preference, that's all.

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Sir Topham Hatt

That's one thing I have been looking at.

I need to save my best works for show, anything less than the best should be kept but never really seen.

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Aperture

I prefer to process the RAW's myself in photoshop, export as TIFF's and then tonemap the three tiffs.

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  • 1 month later...
.KICK

Thanks for the tutorial, so I take its best to take 8 shots of the same with different exposure rates rather than use one RAW file?

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+virtorio

I love HDR images. They're the reason I've been looking into DSLR cameras (and pulling my hair out over what to get and getting confused about lenses).

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crazzy88ss
Thanks for the tutorial, so I take its best to take 8 shots of the same with different exposure rates rather than use one RAW file?

I think 8 is pushing it a bit much. Remember, the more shots you take, the more chances you have for the alignment to get screwed up. 3-5 is usually fine for me.

I love HDR images. They're the reason I've been looking into DSLR cameras (and pulling my hair out over what to get and getting confused about lenses).

You can do them with a "normal" camera. You just need a tripod and your camera needs to be able to have manual settings (MASP)

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+virtorio
You can do them with a "normal" camera. You just need a tripod and your camera needs to be able to have manual settings (MASP)

I know, I've been doing it with my Panasonic Lumix FZ7, but it is a terrible camera (lots of noise) so I thought it was a good reason to upgrade to something decent.

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crazzy88ss
I think you can do it with just one JPEG aswell. for those that have a normal P&S camera without RAW like me.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cleever/255026221/

JPGs don't have any where close to the same dynamic range as RAW files do. So, while I guess it is possible, the RAW is going to be much better.

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SirEvan
Which has everything to do with Compression. You take what the sensor see's, and save it uncompressed.

Doing the processing with the uncompressed file is merely an advantage.

actually, the point of raw is to take the full sensor data, and then process it later, as you said. HOWEVER, you left out one of the downsides of jpgs, and that is the fact that the jpg you get is what the camera processses it as, so you are getting what the manufacturer thinks your picture should look like rather than what you wanted it to look like.

The only time I shoot jpg, is when I'm taking test shots for lighting...my digital polaroids, if you will. Other than that everything is RAW...with a 16GB card i can take close to 700 shots, more than enough for one shoot...and then delete what i don't like later.

back on topic, Photomatix is a great program, and saves alot of time, although it doesn't have as much control as you do if you do it manually, I use photomatix alot for my HDR's

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