Natural HDR in Photoshop and Lightroom

HDR photography was made to address the restrictions of photography equipment, mainly in the sensors of digital cameras. This technology was intended to recreate in photos, as accurately as possible, a human experience by connecting what the human eye actually sees and what a digital camera can shoot.

You can think of HDR as being a complex, ND filter based on software. Instead of applying a filter on your lens when you shoot images, you can accomplish a natural HDR in Photoshop and Lightroom. You won’t have to carry massive equipment with you when taking shots and you can work on your image from the comfort of your own home.

The reason HDR received such bad press recently is that there is a misconception regarding what it actually stands for. The concept that HDR is a new type of photography is entirely incorrect. HDR isn’t a genre or style it’s simply a post-processing technique. It’s just a tool and you will have control over the process.

1. Bracketing images

Before you can get started on processing images for HDR you will have to take some bracketed photos with different levels of exposure. Typically you can take three to five shots for each series. However, if you plan on shooting in extreme conditions of light, such as with the sun right in front of you, it’s possible that you will have to shoot up to nine images.

It’s ideal to shoot multiple images with the help of a tripod, but it’s not completely necessary because Photoshop has a very good alignment function built in. It’s possible to take shots with the camera in your hands and align them in Photoshop.

2. Lightroom Preprocessing

The preprocessing step is a very easy one and shouldn’t take that long. You will have to import your images in Lightroom and apply these adjustments that can be found inside the Lens Correction section.

Turn on Profile Corrections. Adobe Lightroom will automatically detect which type of lens you used and will apply corrections in order to fix any distortion on your images.

Remove the Chromatic Aberration. Adobe Lightroom will automatically clean the edges of your images.

3. Photoshop Tone Mapping

This is mostly an automated process and shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to achieve.

In Adobe Lightroom select the photos you want to merge. Right click on the selection and enter Edit In -> Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop.

Natural HDR in Photoshop

The photos you chose will appear in Photoshop and will be put in individual layers. Instantly, an algorithm will be used to align all your image layers. This is very useful if you shot your photos without a tripod.

After this, the HDR Pro platform will be brought on. The only thing that you will have to do inside the interface is to pick the tone mapping setting. We recommend that you choose the 32 bit feature in order to keep as much data as possible from the original photos. Select OK.

The HDR Pro will merge the images together and will open the 32 bit image in the main interface in Photoshop. The process is now complete. All that remains is for you to save your image. The HDR image is automatically imported in Lightroom after you save it. The processed image will be right next to your original images.

4. Lightroom Processing

This is the best step. You will edit your HDR image with its huge bit depth to make it look the way you want it to. Make use of the standard workflow in Lightroom to satisfy your creative view.

Natural HDR in Photoshop

This is a photograph taken in Cuba that has been achieved by following these steps. Below it you will see another image with the settings used to achieve it.

Natural HDR in Photoshop

You’re all done now. If you are pleased with how your image turned out you can export it from Lightroom as a JPEG.

5. Photoshop final touch

This is an optional step but during certain circumstances these kinds of images will require extra work, like a bit of noise reduction, cleaning of HDR artifacts and sharpening. Photoshop is the go to program when it comes to these edits.

Select your finished image in Lightroom and right click on it. From there you will have to choose Edit -> Edit in Adobe Photoshop. Once it’s opened in Photoshop, make all the necessary adjustments in order to improve it. Most of the times, all you will have to do is apply a little noise reduction.

That’s about it. Use these simple steps in order to achieve natural HDR in Photoshop and Lightroom.

Images source: 1, 2, 3

Adobe Creative Suite 6 vs Creative Cloud – Which is Right for Me?

adobe creative suite 6 vs creative cloud

Adobe launched Creative Suite 6 back in 2012. The bad thing is that the tools inside the suite are out of reach for most people because of their prices. Even though Adobe offers discounts for people who upgrade from older releases and its software costs a lot less for some segments in the market such as teachers or students they are still quite steep. So, we wanted to examine cheaper alternatives such as Creative cloud. But what are the differences between Adobe Creative Suite 6 vs Creative Cloud?

When Adobe introduced cc, it was received with a little uncertainty. Since then, CC saw a lot of success and a lot of people started using it. Adobe Creative Suite is still sold but most people now prefer the Cloud alternative. Cloud from Adobe contains the latest and greatest toolset and is generally high rated by customers. If you’re interested in purchasing Creative Cloud, check it out here on Amazon.

Adobe CC is only available via subscription and it is, in some ways, cloud based. However, don’t let the name fool you. It’s a very powerful piece of software and the applications inside it are not web-based or online. Adobe made it clear that Photoshop and other powerful tools might add numerous online features but the software will never completely run in the cloud.

Adobe Creative Suite 6 vs Creative Cloud – What is in Creative Cloud?

Adobe Creative Cloud comes with newer versions of all the tools in the older cs6 as well as others such as Lightroom, Adobe Edge and more. Most of these applications don’t rely on the Internet to run as you will download them and install them locally as you would with CS6. However, you will have to connect to the Internet once every 4 months for revalidation of your annual subscription.

Adobe CS6 vs CC – Which is the right one for you?

Before comparing prices, it’s quite important to know that it’s not all about the cost. Adobe supports CS6 for the existing Mac OS and Windows releases but they don’t have any plans to support the suite on the next operating systems from Apple and Microsoft. This means that it’s very likely that the Creative Suite 6 won’t be supported on newer versions of Mac OS and Windows. Creative Cloud, however, is a product as well as a service so it will always be updated and supported for the newest technologies, devices and platforms.

Adobe Creative Suite

The cost of Adobe’s Creative Cloud is $49.99 per month on a yearly plan and $74.99 when bought month-to-month. For the people who are upgrading from the previous Creative Suite costs $29.99 per month and teachers and students will pay $19.99 a month for the product. This means that the toolset costs around 1 to 2 dollars a day to use.

Adobe Creative Suite

The CS6 Master Collection costs $2,600 when bought full and $1,050 when upgrading from CS5. Keep in mind that this price is for a static, older version of the suite that will never improve or evolve. It seems like Creative Cloud is the better deal here.

You also have the possibility to opt for what tools you want from the complete cc package. There are bundles such as the Photoshop Photography Bundle which comes with Photoshop and Lightroom and costs $9.99 a month. However, if you only use Photoshop or After Effects you can also buy standalone apps.

Single App Membership

If you think that the complete cc suite is a little too much for you, then you will be happy to know that you can buy a membership to use a single tool. This option is not known by many people but you can actually subscribe for just a single app such as Illustrator, Photoshop, Premiere, InDesign, Acrobat Pro and many others for just $14.99 to $19.99 a month. The download and sign-up are made online so you can do so whenever you want. On top of this, all the upgrades for your software are included in the package so you will always be running the most recent version.

All the new tools in the old software are available on a month-to-month as well as an annual subscription in all the languages for both Windows and Mac OS, so this is quite flexible. If you later decide that you wish to upgrade to the complete package and have access to all the applications, Adobe will refund the remaining amount on your account on your membership plan.

Comparing the $19 a month versus $1,000 to buy, let’s say, After Effects, you will see that it is at least worth your consideration.

It’s also a known fact that Adobe won’t launch a new cs number 7 so the Creative Cloud might be your only chance of getting newer, more evolved tools to work with.

Images source: amazonaws.com, adobe.com, techjobsla.com

10 Alternatives To Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom And Adobe’s Creative Cloud

Guest post by Jeff Colburn

As most photographers know, Adobe is moving all of its software to the Creative Cloud, or CC. Some people call it the Captive Cloud. That means that Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 5 will be the last versions you can buy on disk, and have as a “Perpetual License.”

Currently, you buy software on a DVD or as a download. You get a perpetual license to use that software for the rest of your life. But with the Creative Cloud, you lease the software month to month, or yearly. If you stop paying your fee, the software stops working. Even if you lease this software for years, you never own anything.

A subscription to Photoshop alone costs $20 a month. The suite, which is comprised of all of Adobe’s software, costs $30 a month for the first year, if you’re upgrading from CS3 or newer. After the first year it’s $50 a month. If you’re not upgrading, then it’s $50 a month from the beginning.

If you want to use Photoshop and Lightroom, Adobe suggests you subscribe to Photoshop on the Creative Cloud, and buy Lightroom 5. This is because you can only do a single-app membership, or a complete membership. The complete membership gives you access to 19 Adobe software programs, where the single-app membership gives you access to just one program, like Photoshop.

You can’t get two single-app memberships. So you can’t get Photoshop and Lightroom, you must choose to subscribe to just one of these and buy the other. Adobe is considering a Photoshop and Lightroom package, but it’s not available yet.

If you go the single-app route, I suggest you get Photoshop as Adobe will no longer be supplying updates to the perpetual license version except for Camera Raw. And even this support will end when Adobe stops selling Photoshop with a perpetual license.

To get a better idea of what the Creative Cloud is and isn’t, check out this FAQ from Adobe . It goes into detail about how CC works, that you can use the programs offline, the programs and your files are stored on your computer and more.

I belong to various photography discussion groups, and many have been talking about the Creative Cloud, and whether it will be good or bad for them. Some of the main concerns that photographers have are:

If they decide to stop paying for the Creative Cloud, they won’t be able to open my Photoshop files. All the time and effort they put into these files will be lost and the photographs will be unusable.

They don’t want to have to pay a monthly fee, since they don’t regularly buy upgrades when they come out. As for myself, I still use Photoshop CS3.

What if they start using the Creative Cloud, and in a year or two Adobe starts raising the monthly fee, a lot? I’ll have to pay the price, or hope I can find another piece of software similar to Photoshop and Lightroom that can open Photoshop files.

I just purchased Lightroom 5 and I’m considering switching to one of the below programs, then watch Adobe and see what they do over the next few years. The problem I have with subscribing to Photoshop is that I use Lightroom for about 95% of my image manipulation. Paying $900 for Photoshop, to do 5% of my image processing, is a pretty high price.

Here are some options for you. The text in quotation marks is copied from the company’s website.

Acdsee Photoshop Alternative

ACD Systems

They offer ACDSee Pro, which is like Lightroom, and ACDSee Photo Editor 6, which is like Photoshop. They also offer versions for Mac. They have nondestructive brushes and global nondestructive adjustments.

Price: $60 and $50 respectively for PC and $50 and $30 respectively for Mac
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: Yes, but doesn’t preserve layers or EXIF and IPTC metadata
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: No, but does have object layers
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: Sort of, get single-exposure HDR results
Free trial: Yes

Aperture

Aperture is more like Lightroom than Photoshop, and it’s for Macs. You can make adjustments, like in Lightroom, and use nondestructive adjustment brushes.

Price: $80
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: No, but can send files to be edited in Photoshop Elements
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: No
Work with layers: No
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: No
Free trial: No

Capture One Pro 7

“Based on an entirely new and groundbreaking image processing engine, the world’s most advanced imaging software will allow you to achieve vastly superior image quality with excellent color and fine detail from a camera’s raw files. Among others, this breakthrough results in even more stunning images with improved noise reduction, higher dynamic range, detail and clarity.”

Price: $239
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: Yes, but only one-layer images
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: No, but can layer text
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: Sort of, get single-exposure HDR results
Free trial: Yes

DxO Optics Pro 8

“Tamp down noise, optimize exposure and contrast, enhance colors, and boost the details in your compositions. Thanks to laboratory calibration of thousands of combinations of cameras and lenses, you can apply optical and geometrical corrections that are perfectly adapted to your equipment and to the content of your images.”

Price: $100 (Standard) or $200 (Elite)
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: No
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: No
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: Sort of, get single-exposure HDR results
Free trial: Yes

Gimp

I’ve used Gimp off and on for years, and it’s great. It’s what I turned to when a company I worked for wouldn’t buy Photoshop and I needed to manipulate photos. If you want to learn how to do something in Gimp, just Google it. People have put up a boat-load of tutorials that will show you how to do anything. And there are plugins that will give you RAW format support and even a content aware healing tool.

Price: $0
Opens RAW files: With plugin
Opens Photoshop files: Yes, but may have trouble if the file has many layers
Content Aware tools: With plugins
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: Yes
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: There’s no HDR tool, but can combine images and use a layer mask to do HDR
Free trial: Yes

Paint.net

This program is similar to Gimp but has the same tools you’ll find in Microsoft Paint. Plugins let you work with RAW and Photoshop files. Other tools include a clone stamp, text editor and unlimited history.

Price: $0
Opens RAW files: With plugins
Opens Photoshop files: With plugins
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: Yes
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: There’s no HDR tool, but can combine images and use a layer mask to do HDR
Free trial: Yes

PaintShop Pro X5

“With powerful photo-editing tools, incredible new instant effects, and enhanced HDR technology, creating stunning photos has never been easier. All-new tools include face recognition technology and the ability to map photos to real-world locations. Streamlined design tools let you blend images with photos and create high-quality graphics for print, video and the web. Plus, share your images online using new and enhanced social media features. It’s all available in PaintShop Pro X5, the perfect way to create, edit, enhance and share unforgettable photos and designs.”

Price: $50
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: Yes
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: Yes
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: Yes
Free trial: Yes

Pixelmator

Like Aperture, this program is for Macs. This program lets you manipulate Photoshop files, but is limited in the RAW files it can open.

Price: $15
Opens RAW files: Only RAW files that are supported by your computer’s operating system
Opens Photoshop files: Yes
Content Aware tools: Yes
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: Yes
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: No
Free trial: Maybe, when I click on the Free Trial link, it goes to a blank page.

Splashup

This is a web based program, and even offers layer effects, text effects and filters.

Price: $15
Opens RAW files: No
Opens Photoshop files: No
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: No
Work with layers: Yes
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: No
Free trial: Yes

Lightzone

This program was sold until September 2011, when Lightcrafts went out of business. But the program stayed active and is now an open source program. It has a lot of the features of Lightroom, and some great options for photo manipulation, and everything is nondestructive. Give it a try, it’s free.

Price: $0
Opens RAW files: Yes
Opens Photoshop files: No
Content Aware tools: No
Noise reduction: Yes
Work with layers: Sort of. The tools used to edit a photo are stacked, similarly to “layers” in other applications.
Sharpen photograph: Yes
Does HDR: No
Free trial: Yes

There is nothing on the market that does everything that Photoshop does, except Photoshop. But when you consider that the full-blown version of Photoshop is $900, and the most expensive replacement I mentioned was $239, with most under $100, you need to ask yourself something. Does Photoshop really offer enough to be worth an additional $800?

There are more options out there than the ones I mentioned, but this will give you a good start. All you have to do now is decide which path will work best for you.

Have Fun,
Jeff

Top Ways To Automate Lightroom

Automating Adobe Lightroom can save huge amounts of time. This 2 part video series
hosted by Julieanne Kost will show important features and shortcuts that you use. Do you work in the development module or image grid area mostly? Learn the shortcuts that will relocate your views quickly.

Part 2 of the automation of Lightroom

How Technology Has Changed The Photography Industry

If you have ever had a 15-year-old child before, you know your weekends are spent running errands just to give your child practice behind the wheel of the car. We have to log 60 hours of driving time before our daughter receives her license, so we are letting her play “chauffer” whenever we have the time. She is considerably better at it then she was a couple of months ago, so it’s easier now to look around at the scenery rather than concentrate on her skills.

This weekend we drove by an old Blockbuster store, and I started thinking about the change in the video industry. I remember a time when the big thing was to run up to the video store to get a movie for the weekend. That slowly morphed into Netflix, which gave you more convenience of getting your movies and dropping them off, but still didn’t solve the problem of getting the movie you wanted, when you wanted it. Change that today, and you can stream any video you want, anywhere you want. From mobile devices, Smart technology, and even your Google tv, you can have instant access whenever you want it. Which of course has caused old relics like Blockbuster to file for bankruptcy.

And of course industry change doesn’t end there. Look at landline telephones. More and more people are abandoning their traditional landline phones in favor of cell phone only. You used to pick your phone company based on how much they charged for long distance; now you use cell phones with one payment plan for all of your long distance needs. And if you talk continuously with people from around the world, use VoIP or Skype, and connect via the Internet. You can talk anywhere, anytime for one low price.

Every single industry that has had major change over the last 20 years is due to technological advancements. And photography is right in there with them.

Go back 20 years, and you purchased a camera based on the lenses you chose to use. If you wanted to change your output, you invested in different types of film. Film is where the magic happened, and together with a great lens gave you a dynamic photograph. You had to rely on your expertise to create the perfect image within the camera, because you wouldn’t see the results until the final processing took place. But the magic occurred at inception – at the moment you pressed the trigger and captured the image.

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Using Lightroom to Work With Landscapes

Have you ever come across a wildlife photo that just pops with color, and you would love to use the same technique yourself? In this tutorial, you’ll see just how easy it is. Yanik shows you a before and after image he recently took in Costa Rica, and shows you the Lightroom tools he used to create the finished image. You’ll be creating your own magical images in just a few minutes of time.