Posts Tagged ‘processing’


I made another video because it is simpler to show than to try to describe.

A Tip for Starting HDR Photographers from Jan Jílek on Vimeo.

In one word – a lot! Well that’s two words, but who cares … Anyway, lets start at the beginning. You take a picture. Sometimes there are things you can’t do inside a camera or it will take a lot of time to repair it in camera. It can take few seconds to repair it in Lightroom or Photoshop. I’m not saying you should just take a picture and than try to make a miracle inside these programs. You have to decide if it’s worth the extra work. For example, when shooting in studio you get a little tiny bit of blown out highlights on her teeth. Yes, you can play again with lighting and tweek it to perfecion. But if the problem isn’t huge, you can just pull the recovery slider in Lightroom and have the same result in less than 2 seconds!

But there are some things you can’t do in camera and this is the place when post-processing comes in hand. Let’s take for example this shot.

Original Tram Generation

As you can see the shot isn’t good at all. I wanted to catch how old railtrams end up and in the background for contrast there is a new type cruising Prague. But the shot? Well …. to be honest I didn’t like it when I first took a look on it. But afterwards I got an idea. I combined Lightroom, Nik Color Efex Pro and Photoshop to get the best possible result. Boosted up contrast in highlights, midtones and shadows with some layers and curves is a deadly combination and I love this shot!

A Tram Generation

A Tram Generation


Forbidden Area (click to enlarge)

I don’t know why, but now I shoot a lot more HDR. Maybe it is because I can use better tools like LR3, PS CS5 or Photomatix 4, maybe just because it is cool. Two days ago I was on a walk with my friend Clara and we were passing throught graveyard. Yes, I know it is a weird place to go, but we wanted to know how we will end up 😉 But anyway, right at the entrance was this cool scene so I started thinking about it. Of course I made some portraits of her but she was so embaraced and asked me not to show them to anybody … don’t know why, because she’s one great looking sexy girl! 😀

I knew I had to shoot in HDR, because there were big differences between light levels. So I set my camera to AEB +/- 2. Now I needed to find that cool angle and feel for the image and it did take just a second. I realized I can shoot the “forbidden area” style. One element in foreground is in focus and is restrictive, the rest behind it is out of focus. The shot itself wasn’t bad. But I had to make it even better somehow. I felt it’s potential, just to process it the right way and I could get away with awesome photo. I’ve decided to go with Orton Effect. And of course, some other adjustments in Photoshop and Lightroom, as always. The final image is on the left of the post, click on it for better view, it will forward you to the photo on my Flickr account.

Here is the video about Orton Effect.

So after some time I’m posting another post, this time with a bit interesting topic. Let’s say you are starting in photography and you would like to make a living out of it one time. So how should you get noticed? Today there are many ways how you can do that and lets start with the biggest one.

The Internet

There are many photo galleries and websites specialized in showing your work. But not just that. Many of these webs have comment sections where viewers can put comment about what they like in the shot and what they don’t like. Then it is just about you what you will take and what you won’t. It never is a bad idea to listen to comments. With this you will also create your own style of photography. Just like I did. Shooting wide open, minimal aperture at f/5.6 except some shots with landscapes, then I go to f/11 or f/16. But most of the time I’m wide open. And these sites helped me to develop my style.

But here are some sites I publish my photos on. The following list isn’t in any order 😉

The first site is Photo Extract. It is a Czech website with gallery and it also supports English. People can comment photos, rate them and tell what they like and not. There is also a graph that will show you views of your photo. It has camera and lenses databaze so when you want to buy a new lens and chech out the images you can get with it you can use it. The same with camera body. But remember, every gear is as good as the photographer. So if you suck in photography than buying a 500 f/4 will not make it better. But comments might 😉

Another cool website is Digital Photography School. In forum you can share your shots and people can put critique on your photos. This forum is great, it isn’t just about photos but also about gear. So when you want to buy something new, just like I bought my Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod, I made a post on their forum and other photographers will give you advices about it. Really cool and need stuff so be sure to check it out.

And the last but not least one is Flickr. A lot of people out there have Flickr account and it is great place to meet new people, share shots or just talk. Another fact is that some people search images in Flickr and then they contact you with permission to use your image. And that is what you want!


A huge part of photography in modern days. It is so big that I didn’t put it into the Internet section. What to do with Facebook and who should use it? To be honest, everybody can. But as a people photographer you have a huge plus! For example I made a photo shoot some time ago with my cousins. After it I picked the best shots, run them throught the Photoshop and finally posted it on Facebook and marked the people on the photos. That means all their friends and also your friends will see those photos and I can’t calc how many times I’ve heard the phrase “will you shoot me”?

So for me these are my primary web channels that I put my photos on. You can also contact some magazines and do other stuff but that is good topic for another post.

BTW I’m not payed by any sites I’ve mentioned in the post, this is just the way I do it 😉

After some time I finally got away from work and games, took my camera to Prague and went for a walk with my friend, Clara. We were walking, talking and I was scouting some cool locations for portraits and landscapes. We started at Ujezd, bellow Petrin Hill and walket towards to Strahov’s Monastery and back down. And on our way down I spotted some really cool places for HDR, mostly with houses. It was quite cold outside so I didn’t spent much time, that 1.5 hour walk was long enought.

Old house in Prague (HDR)

But back to photography. I took a good look on one old house and on his walls were these old dried-up sprouts. The overall image looked fine so I took the shots. Afterward it was processed in Photomatix and final touch was made in Lightroom. I really like those square and rectangular shapes in contrast with the broken wall. I also included a person into the shot and it made even more impact on the photo, I really don’t know which I like better but I think for my level of photography they are both very fine.

Old House in Prague with Better Impact


I think this name is quite good for things I’d like to tell you about. HRD stands for High Dynamic Range and there is a huge boom with HDR photographers. The basic idea of this type of photography is to mix multiple exposures and increase a dynamic range. You can do it using several methods, the most complicated is using Photoshop and masks to blend your exposures together. Thanks God, there are few good pieces of software that will do it for you.

The most know is probably Photomatix by HDRSoft. Another cool tool is Photoshop, but version CS5. This exact version has HDR Pro feature that will merge your exposures and do it the cool way 😉 But this article isn’t about using different programs to do this type of photography. It is about something different.

A lot of folks out there think HDR is cool, some are neutral and the rest hate it. That is OK, but many photographers that like HDR images get pissed off when they take their HDR images and then they will start to hate it. How may it happen? Simple, all this softwares like Photomatix or even HDR Pro are made “just” for merging down your exposures, it won’t make the final image on its own. But a lot of people don’t know that and that might be one of the problems they thinkHDR sucks.

So how do you get those cool looking images like Trey Ratcliff makes? When you merge your exposures, save the file as a 16bit TIFF file. Then go into Photoshop or any other program you are using for editing and finish it there. With HDR photography a huge problem is halo (those shiny aura looking area around some part of image) and bad color. On the image bellow you can see how it looks and get familiar with it.


HDR Image w/o color and halo correction

When you click on the image next to this text you can see all the issues. Yellows are too much yellow and around the tree is a big halo. Halos happen in parts of image where there are big contrast differences like in this part. Tree branches are dark color, about dark brown and the sky is nice light blue tint.

And that color issues? Well lets think about it first. Lets say you are taking some images of landscapes and your exposure setting is absolutely correct. What will happen? You will have good exposure on the landscape but colors might not be so good and to be honest I’m almost sure you’ll try to fix it. When you’ll underexpose the scene, colors there will get more vibrant and saturated. That is good point and one of the reasons why Moose Peterson, famous landscape and wildlife photographer, shoots almost all the time at -0.5 EV from correct exposure. For the colors.

Now when you have some scene with a lot of dark spots, your colors will be more saturated there and even more when you will use some HDR program to process it. That is what happend with the bottom part of the tree and houses in the background.

Now how to get rid of this stuff? Simple, hop into Photoshop, because that is the best way, at least for me, how to do it. For getting rid of that bad color I try to get my white point, black point and grey point set correctly. Another way how you can do it is using Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and affecting only colors you want to affect. After it use layer mask to blend it with your picture. It may require more than one Hue/Saturation layer and don’t be afraid to experiment. The last but not least option is to use one of the original images and layer masks to blend it with the HDR processed image. To be honest, I don’t use this last method.

About halos …. well that is more simple than you think. You can use clone tool with blend mode set to normal. Then clone the pieces further away from the tree over the ones that are closer and lighter. Another way is to set your clone tool blend mode to darken. This will affect only pixels that are brighter than the clone source and clone just those. The problem here is that it is still cloning. You take one part of image and insert it severaltimes into different locations. The default texture might go away. I personally like to use burn and dodge tools for this. It is simple and fast. Problem here is a bit with control because the changes are made on the actual layer and with using clone tool you can make changes on blank layer above. That way bad cloning won’t affect the original layer you are cloning from.

There are of course other ways how you can do this but this is the way I do it 😉 Here is the final image.

HDR w/ corrections