One powerful filter: The HDR Look
Ever since I started using the Sony a7Rii I have found myself bracketing images less and less. There is a plethora of dynamic range information in every file that thing pumps out, which is awesome, but the file sizes are huge! I once bracketed a series of images, ran it through Photomatix, saved it as a 16 bit Tiff, applied the Zone Systems and then saved it. The file was over 1.8 Gigabytes…. yes, 1.8 gigabytes for a single image, not a panorama.
In any event, I found that there was more often than not, enough information in a single RAW file to extract and exploit the dynamic range of the scene to get the HDR look I yearned for. That is not true for every instance, though. I would say my bracketing has gone from all the time with the Canon to maybe 20% of the time with the Sony.
Every now and then I long for that detailed HDR Look that I grew to love from Tone Mapping brackets. Before you say it… I already know, these are first world problems in the order of cameras and technology, but I assure you the struggle is real and I am not alone!
The other day I was processing a photo of the Gem Theater in Kansas City and I wanted that HDR look on the building because the architecture is just gorgeous. I remembered that ON1 had a filter called “HDR Look” so I gave it a go. At first, I wanted to reject it, but then I modified some settings and was dumbfounded by how awesome the effect looked.
There are some things you need to modify to get the HDR Effect Look to look great:
- Apply the HDR Look effect to the MIDTONES Only: With HDR images, one of the biggest flaws comes from shadow noise and tone compressed Highlights. Protect them all together with Apply To.
- Further Protect the Tones: Go into the Protect areas and bring the Highlights and Shadows all the way up to protect the highlights and shadows even further.
- Go Local: Apply brushes to the mask of the HDR Look filter to block out unwanted areas.
- It’s all about the Opacity: Lower the opacity of the filter so it is not as striking at first glance.
- Have fun: Don’t forget to have fun… ever!