1 2 Previous Next 79 Replies Latest reply on Apr 28, 2015 6:55 AM by trshaner

    What is HDR really doing?

    landoloons

      I'm trying to understand the new HDR function.

       

      I have a typical subject with extreme dynamic range - an indoor area with bright windows to a blue sky.  I compose a shot and bracket it by 2 stops on both sides, resulting in 3 .arw files.  I bring those into LR6, select (ctrl-click) all 3, and initiate HDR Merge.

       

      The result is a new image in which the exposure slider is at +1.75, Highlights -100, Shadows +70.   The new image is quite disappointing and doesn't look very HDR-ish.  And in fact, the "merged" image seems to be just the first image with those settings applied, the 2nd and 3rd images weren't even used.  I verified this by simply copying the settings from the "HDR" image and pasting them to the first image; the result is indistinguishable.

       

      I looks like there wasn't any 'merging' at all, no use of the bracketed images, just some automatic setting of the sliders on one image.   And yes, I had all 3 selected when I initiated the merge.  Surely I'm missing something here.

        • 1. Re: What is HDR really doing?
          trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          The new LR 6/CC Merge to HDR works very well. It is comparable to PS HDR Pro's results for creating a 32 bit HDR file that will be processed further in LR. Try unchecking 'Auto Tone' in the HDR Options panel and make your own Basic panel Tone adjustments to the HDR.dng file. LR PV2012's Highlight and Shadow recovery tools work very well on a single file. You may need to shoot 4 or 5 image files with a lower bracket  such as 1.5 EV to see a larger difference.

          • 2. Re: What is HDR really doing?
            David J Swift

            First, a 2-stop bracket is too wide. Even 1 stop is a lot. Shoot more frames at 1/2 or 2/3 and stack 'em up.

             

            I am searching for an official description of how this implementation of HDR is done. I grabbed three bracketed (2/3rd stop) interiors shot the other day just to see what would happen. It created a new DNG with a pre-adjusted assortment of development tweaks as mentioned in landoloons' (I've been there) question.

             

            I use three different HDR apps, depending on . . . things . . . and I must say, my first Lightroom HDR is superb. And quick. Zero color shift, above all, which has always been my #1 struggle with all HDR crunchers.

             

            Examining the DNG metadata is interesting. These two screen grabs compare the metadata of one of the original files to the HDR DNG. Not insignificant: the original raw file is 20mb, the three-frame HDR DNG is 80mb.

            Screenshot 2015-04-22 17.42.27.pngScreenshot 2015-04-22 17.42.16.png

            My initial impression: this is an excellent HDR tool. Lamentations to the third-party HDR folks.

            • 3. Re: What is HDR really doing?
              trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Here's a LR CC Merge to HDR example using six images with a 1.5 EV bracket.

              (click on image to see full-size)

              LRCC Merge to HDR.jpg

              • 4. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                landoloons Level 1

                I did this again with "Auto Tone" unchecked.  The result is a new image that is indistinguishable from the first image (the 'normal' exposure, not the bracketed ones) in thumbnail at least.  I then edited the new image, adjusting the basic sliders (Exposure, Highlights, Shadows) to make the image the way I thought it should.  If I then copy these adjustments to the first image, the result is indentical in dynamic range.  Comparing at 100%, it seems that the 'merged' image has less noise in the shadows, so there has apparently been some merging of the images.    But there doesn't seem to be any compression or tone mapping going on. Looking at the highs and lows of the 3 images, large amounts of detail aren't making it into the merged image.

                 

                I'm going to let it go and see what other people have to say, because at least on this set of images, "HDR Merge" isn't doing anything like what I hoped it would.  I'm not seeing anything remotely comparable to typical HDR programs I've used in the past - Photomatix, for example.

                 

                EDIT:  While I was writing this, 2 other replies appeared.  I will try something else with more shots at smaller intervals.  But my subject today needed 4 stops, these are RAW files, and PhotoMatix can definitely merge them and extract all the detail.

                • 5. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                  trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  David J Swift wrote:

                  Examining the DNG metadata is interesting. These two screen grabs compare the metadata of one of the original files to the HDR DNG. Not insignificant: the original raw file is 20mb, the three-frame HDR DNG is 80mb.

                  When using Edit In 'Merge To HDR Pro in Photoshop' a non-layered 32 bit HDR TIFF file is created. I believe the HDR.dng created with LR CC Merge to HDR is the same image data, but in a DNG wrapper. DNG does not support layers so the .dng HDR file is a "single" 32 bit data image file. The file size is comparable to a 32 bit HDR TIFF file with ZIP compression.

                  • 6. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                    landoloons Level 1

                    I'd put it this way:  in terms of dynamic range, I'm not seeing anything beyond what I can get from a single RAW file with centered exposure.  I suppose "HDR" has no firm definition, but to most people it means using compression and tone mapping to pull in more detail than could be captured in a single image.  So far I'm not seeing that.

                    • 7. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                      David J Swift Level 1

                      landaloons, give it another try with a different series. I like it.

                      • 8. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                        Bob Somrak Level 5

                        I agree with David.  It seems to work really good.  Try a few 3 shot HDR's with less than the 2 stop range and see what happens.

                         

                        PS   If it would also do focus stacking like Lr/ENFUSE Plugin for my landscapes I would be a happy camper.   

                        • 9. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                          landoloons Level 1

                          I will be trying it again, of course.  But it clearly isn't what I hoped it would be.   I think Adobe is going to get some knocks from reviewers for calling this "HDR".

                          • 10. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                            Bob Somrak Level 5

                            landoloons wrote:

                             

                              I think Adobe is going to get some knocks from reviewers for calling this "HDR".

                             

                            The Adobe HDR is similar to what I was getting from the Lr/ENFUSE plugin which is what it called Exposure Blending but the Adobe HDR DNG allows a lot more adjustment than the enfused TIFFS did.  If you are talking about the awful looking tone mapped HDR than I am glad Adobe didn't go that direction.  Seeing a couple of those are enough for a lifetime.

                            • 11. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                              tunney moriarty Level 2

                              The Adobe Engineers recommend 3 shots with 2 stops between them.

                               

                              Tunney

                              • 12. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                Bob Somrak Level 5

                                Thanks for the info.  I have tried just using 3 at +/- 1 to 1.5 stops and it worked really good for my style of photography.  I find I don't need blending to much anymore since PV 2012 but beings it built in and produces DNG files I may use it more.

                                • 13. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                  landoloons Level 1

                                  Tone mapping is usually misused pretty badly.  But it doesn't have to be.    The effect can be subtle. Tone mapping, and compression, are what most people expect from "HDR" software.  I don't know what LR6's "HDR Merge" is doing, it may turn out to be useful, but it's not what I'd call HDR.  

                                  • 14. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                    dazzahowie

                                    I agree that is not using all of the images.

                                    I have tested on 4 separate long exposure HDR blends and on every one at least one or two of the 5 images used have been ignored.

                                    I know this as each image had separate light trails in the shot and the light trails are missing from one or two of the selected images IE LR is not using that frame.

                                    Ghosting is selected OFF so this is not the reason.

                                    • 15. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                      trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      The HDR image I posted in reply #3 uses 6 image files with 1.33 EV bracketing. The actual number of images required depends on the dynamic range of the scene and to a lesser extent your camera's dynamic range. In the below six images you can see that the highlights are only fully revealed in the 1st lowest exposure image. The shadow area is only fully revealed in the 6th highest exposure image. At a minimum the below subject requires four 1.33 EV bracketed exposures (#2-#5) to get good results.

                                      HDR Six  1.33 Bracket.jpg

                                       

                                      Below show the results using 6 (1-6) images and 4 (2-5) images, which appear near identical. The window highlights are slightly better and the shadows have slightly less noise in the 6 image HDR. The 4 image HDR is very good!

                                       

                                      Comparison 6 vs 4 Image HDR.jpg

                                       

                                      Here are the LR Basic panel settings used for both:

                                      • 16. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                        trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                        dazzahowie wrote:

                                         

                                        I agree that is not using all of the images.

                                        I have tested on 4 separate long exposure HDR blends and on every one at least one or two of the 5 images used have been ignored.

                                        I know this as each image had separate light trails in the shot and the light trails are missing from one or two of the selected images IE LR is not using that frame.

                                        Ghosting is selected OFF so this is not the reason.

                                         

                                        If the light trails occurred in the highest exposure shots they will be masked out by the HDR merge process. The merge process creates a mask for each of the bracketed  images using only the area of each image that is properly exposed. If the light trails are in an area of the image that is overexposed that whole area is masked out....including the light trails!

                                        • 17. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                          SA_Tosterud Level 1

                                          I too saw no difference between my merged HDR image and the 0 EV one.  I was also put off by there being no controls in the merging dialog.  Then I noticed that the develop sliders have a greater range on the merged file.  This is just a new way of implementing the HDR merge and edit processes for me.

                                           

                                          Still, when compared to the same images from Photomatix, I am not impressed with LR's implementation of HDR.  This wasn't a big selling point for me  with LRCC anyway, so I'm not too concerned.

                                          • 18. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                            trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                            landoloons wrote:

                                            I don't know what LR6's "HDR Merge" is doing, it may turn out to be useful, but it's not what I'd call HDR.  

                                            Can you post a screenshot of the images used and the final HDR image, similar to what I did in my reply #15?

                                             

                                            I had a similar experience when first using LR Edit In> 'Merge to HDR Pro in PS.' The saved 32 bit HDR images when opened in LR looked horrible and underexposed. The LR Exposure control range is extended for 32 bit HDR processing from the normal ±5 EV range to ±10 EV range. You need to set Exposure first and then work downward from there with the other Tone controls. Highlights and Shadows controls generally work best when set opposite with equal values (Example: Highlights -50, Shadows +50). I used Highlights -100 and Shadows +100 maximum values for a more HDR look in the posted example. Lesser values will give you a more "normal" appearing image.

                                            • 19. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                              trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                              Bob Somrak wrote:

                                              The Adobe HDR is similar to what I was getting from the Lr/ENFUSE plugin which is what it called Exposure Blending but the Adobe HDR DNG allows a lot more adjustment than the enfused TIFFS did.

                                              Heads-up! The LR/Enfuse plugin v4.31 does NOT work with LR CC and probably not LR 6. I get a bunch of 'Wrong data type 7' error messages during processing with the LR/Enfuse plugin. It still works fine with LR5. Perhaps there will be an update in the future. IMHO the HDR implementation in LR 6/CC works fine, but some users may prefer LR/Enfuse. It has many adjustments for tuning the look you want, which can be tedious to use.

                                               

                                              LR/Enfuse - Blend Multiple Exposures Together in Adobe Lightroom

                                              • 20. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                phillydave Level 2

                                                Agreed. HDR in LR wasn't a big selling point for me, so not overly disappointed because my expectations were low. Might use it to proof some stuff, but will still rely on Photomatix for final images.

                                                • 21. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                  Jimre3 Level 2

                                                  This HDR feature appears to work just like the previous process that required both Photoshop and Lightroom 5:

                                                   

                                                  - Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop

                                                  - choose 32-bit mode

                                                  - skip tone-mapping in ACR

                                                  - return 32-bit extended-range image to LR

                                                  - use LR develop module controls - which now go to +/-10 (sorry, not 11) to tone-map & adjust

                                                   

                                                  This is all much simpler now that it's built-in to LR6. I like it.

                                                   

                                                  There are lots of different HDR techniques & apps out there; this version is well-suited for people who want natural, realistic-looking images with greater dynamic range. People who think of HDR mainly as a cool special-effect or "look" will likely be disappointed.

                                                  • 22. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                    phillydave Level 2

                                                    I never used the Photoshop one, either. But for people who were going to PS, being able to stay in LR is always a plus in my book.

                                                    • 23. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                      Rafael Aviles Level 3

                                                      Tunney - is that 2 EV between each shot, or 2 EV total from lightest to darkest? I do the former for my HDR shots (shoot at 0EV, +2EV, -2EV) and get very good results. I just compared the LR process to Photoshop's, and I like the results. I do not like the lack of controls, though.

                                                      • 24. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                        SA_Tosterud Level 1

                                                        Here are my original files - 7 DNG's at 1 EV spacing:

                                                        startingImages.gif

                                                        HDR Merge in LRCC:

                                                        mergeLR.gif

                                                        Comparison between the merged HDR an the 0 EV exposure:

                                                        compLR.gif

                                                        After editing the LR-merged image to try and replicate the Photomatix version, here are the two side-by-side.  Note that I was going for a dreamy quality, not realism, but I still think the PM version gives me more to work with.

                                                        LR_PM_comp.gif

                                                        • 25. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                          trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                          SA_Tosterud wrote:

                                                           

                                                          Here are my original files - 7 DNG's at 1 EV spacing:

                                                          startingImages.gif

                                                          HDR Merge in LRCC:

                                                          mergeLR.gif

                                                          From what I can see in the screenshot this image doesn't have a really high dynamic range. I'm not surprised you can get almost the same results using the middle (#4) exposure image file.

                                                           

                                                          To get get closer to the Photomatix look push the Highlights and Shadows controls further, readjust the exposure, and add some Clarity and Vibrance. Don't forget to set the Whites and Blacks clipping points by holding the ALT key while adjusting the sliders.

                                                          • 26. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                            David J Swift Level 1

                                                            True, LR's HDR is not performing tone mapping, which is something else.

                                                            • 27. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                              trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                              You can get some toning effects using the LR Contrast, Clarity and Vibrance controls. Merge to HDR Pro in PS has more controls using 'Local Adaption.' My HDR pic from reply #15 here using just three 1.33 bracketed images:

                                                               

                                                              Merge to HDR Pro in PS.jpg

                                                              • 28. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                landoloons Level 1

                                                                trshaner wrote:

                                                                 

                                                                landoloons wrote:

                                                                I don't know what LR6's "HDR Merge" is doing, it may turn out to be useful, but it's not what I'd call HDR. 

                                                                Can you post a screenshot of the images used and the final HDR image, similar to what I did in my reply #15?

                                                                 

                                                                I had a similar experience when first using LR Edit In> 'Merge to HDR Pro in PS.' The saved 32 bit HDR images when opened in LR looked horrible and underexposed. The LR Exposure control range is extended for 32 bit HDR processing from the normal ±5 EV range to ±10 EV range. You need to set Exposure first and then work downward from there with the other Tone controls. Highlights and Shadows controls generally work best when set opposite with equal values (Example: Highlights -50, Shadows +50). I used Highlights -100 and Shadows +100 maximum values for a more HDR look in the posted example. Lesser values will give you a more "normal" appearing image.

                                                                I'm going to try again with (maybe) better bracketing.

                                                                 

                                                                I see that in the merged image, the Exposure slider has more range.  But it doesn't seem to be useful because the Highlights and Shadows sliders are already maxed out.   No matter what I do, I see highlight detail present in one or more of the source images that isn't in the merged image.  The merge is too conservative, it seems intended to produce an image that has only the apparent dynamic range of the 0EV image, but less shadow noise.

                                                                 

                                                                In another post you suggest that the Merge creates masks and combines what it sees as the 'correctly exposed' portions of each image.  Do you know that for a fact, and if so, what's your source for this?  If Adobe could produce a clear explanation of what this does - and skip the "HDR" hype - it would be very helpful.

                                                                • 29. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                  trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                  landoloons wrote:

                                                                  In another post you suggest that the Merge creates masks and combines what it sees as the 'correctly exposed' portions of each image.  Do you know that for a fact, and if so, what's your source for this?

                                                                  Here's a screenshot of the six bracketed images as layers inside PS after applying 'Auto-Blend Layers'. The image thumbnail is on the left and mask on right side. It's small, but you should be able to see the mask detail. Black areas are masked in each layer and then the images are combined to create the 32 bit HDR file. You can see the lowest exposure top image (IMG_3421) only exposes the brighter window area and the highest exposure image (IMG_3426) only exposes the dark shadow areas. All HDR programs use blending layer masks, but with different algorithms to process the image data. LR 'Merge to HDR' uses to create the 32 bit HDR image file. This was done using PS CC 2014 'Auto Blend Layers' so that you can see the intermediate layer blending step used by HDR Pro just before the six layers are combined into one (1) 32 bit HDR image.

                                                                   

                                                                  • 30. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                    landoloons Level 1

                                                                    trshaner wrote:

                                                                     

                                                                    landoloons wrote:

                                                                    In another post you suggest that the Merge creates masks and combines what it sees as the 'correctly exposed' portions of each image.  Do you know that for a fact, and if so, what's your source for this?

                                                                    Here's a screenshot of the six bracketed images as layers inside PS after applying 'Auto-Blend Layers'. The image thumbnail is on the left and mask on right side. It's small, but you should be able to see the mask detail. Black areas are masked in each layer and then the images are combined to create the 32 bit HDR file. You can see the lowest exposure top image (IMG_3421) only exposes the brighter window area and the highest exposure image (IMG_3426) only exposes the dark shadow areas. All HDR programs use blending layer masks, but with different algorithms to process the image data. LR 'Merge to HDR' uses to create the 32 bit HDR image file. This was done using PS CC 2014 'Auto Blend Layers' so that you can see the intermediate layer blending step used by HDR Pro just before the six layers are combined into one (1) 32 bit HDR image.

                                                                     

                                                                     

                                                                    So you're assuming that LR6 is doing what PS did - in fact, may be using code from PS that's been brought into LR.  A reasonable guess, of course.    

                                                                     

                                                                    But in PS you can edit those masks, and in LR6 you can't.  I do focus-stacking in PSE using layer masks. There's an action for it, and it makes a game attempt, but it's never nearly good enough and I don't even use it any more, I do it all by hand.

                                                                    • 31. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                      Bob Somrak Level 5

                                                                      trshaner wrote:

                                                                       

                                                                      Bob Somrak wrote:

                                                                      The Adobe HDR is similar to what I was getting from the Lr/ENFUSE plugin which is what it called Exposure Blending but the Adobe HDR DNG allows a lot more adjustment than the enfused TIFFS did.

                                                                      Heads-up! The LR/Enfuse plugin v4.31 does NOT work with LR CC and probably not LR 6.

                                                                       

                                                                      Todd,

                                                                       

                                                                      Lr/Enfuse 4.3.1 on OS X 10.10.3 has been working for me except that I had to turn off "Reimport images into Lightroom" as that was causing an error.  The Exposure/Focus blending creates a file but gives an error if I try to auto-import.

                                                                      • 32. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                        trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                        I emailed the author of LR/Enfuse Timothy Armes a few hours ago and you'll now find a new 4.32 version is available with a fix for LR 6/CC. It works fine with no issues on my Windows 7 LR CC.

                                                                         

                                                                        If you still have an issue with "Reimport images into Lightroom" checked email Timothy Armes Photographer's toolbox - Contact.

                                                                        • 33. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                          Bob Somrak Level 5

                                                                          I had emailed him when I first discovered the problem so maybe he fixed the reimport problem too.

                                                                          • 34. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                            trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                            landoloons wrote:

                                                                            So you're assuming that LR6 is doing what PS did - in fact, may be using code from PS that's been brought into LR.  A reasonable guess, of course.   

                                                                            Good point! I just tested both LR CC and Edit in PS Merge to HDR. They aren't identical, but very close tonal wise once adjusted. Exposure and White Balance settings are different, which is unexpected. The PS HDR2 image appears sharper, but there is less color saturation in some areas (also unexpected!). Below are the images and settings using only auto-align in each HDR app. I've included a 1:1 crop to show the sharpness and color saturation differences. I tested both LR CC with PS CC 2014 Merge to HDR and LR 5 with PS CS6 Merge to HDR with identical results as shown below. To be honest I prefer the LR CC local Merge to HDR rendering.

                                                                             

                                                                            (Click on image to see full-size)

                                                                            Merge to HDR LR CC vs PS.jpg

                                                                            • 35. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                              Horshack Level 4

                                                                              LR6's Merge-to-HDR handles tonal transitions better than PS's Merge-to-HDR when the bracketed EV spacing is > 1EV; PS creates tonal halos in that scenario whereas LR6 does not, at least for extreme DR scenes. Here is a comparison I did:

                                                                               

                                                                              i-JpnWmvs.jpg

                                                                              • 36. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                                trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                                Clearly there are differences in the blending algorithms used by LR CC Merge to HDR and PS HDR Pro. Tonal differences are understandable, but why the severe loss of color saturation in certain areas with PS HDR Pro? LR CC's Merge to HDR looks very close to a single image processed in LR concerning color saturation. It appears there's an issue (bug?) with PS HDR Pro.

                                                                                • 37. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                                  trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                                  trshaner wrote:

                                                                                  It appears there's an issue (bug?) with PS HDR Pro.

                                                                                  I did some more investigation on why the PS HDR Pro image has less color saturation than the LR CC local Merge to HDR. The "bug' is actually in the LR CC Merge to HDR routine, which sets Color NR to 10:

                                                                                  It shouldn't be applying ANY settings to the HDR file! The color saturation issue with the PS HDR2 Tiff was caused by use of Copy & Paste settings from the LR HDR dng to the PS HDR2 Tiff, which added Color NR 10. For some reason it is affected more by this setting than the dng. Returning Color NR to 0 restores the color saturation back to normal in the PS HDR2 Tiff. I'll create a bug report later today and post the link back here.

                                                                                  Merge to HDR Pro in PS - Color NR 0.jpg

                                                                                  • 38. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                                    trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                                                    Can anyone else confirm that LR CC Photo Merge to HDR is creating a dng file with Noise Reduction> Color set to 10 by default?

                                                                                     

                                                                                    I want to enter a bug report and need confirmation from others.  This will help to rule-out an issue with my system as the cause.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Thank you.

                                                                                    • 39. Re: What is HDR really doing?
                                                                                      Rafael Aviles Level 3

                                                                                      No, I cannot confirm this. I ran two series of five shots. In the first one, I had tweaked the noise reduction to Luminance 31 and Color 25 (all shots the same). The HDR dng from LR HDR came back with the same values under noise reduction. In the second one, I had not used any noise reduction at all (both Luminance and Color were set at zero for all shots). The dng came back with zeros as well in Luminance and Color Noise Reduction. Note: I had the Auto Tone deselected in the LR HDR panel in both cases. Are you sure your shots did not have Noise reduction already applied?

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