21 Replies Latest reply on May 16, 2016 8:06 AM by trshaner

    HDR in Lightroom, Part 2

    dj_paige Level 9

      Over a year ago, I gave an example of one of my first attempts to use HDR in Lightroom

      Re: What is HDR really doing?

       

      In there, I took a three-exposure sequence of a house, and applied the LR HDR to the results. What I got was a photo where, contrary to my expectations, the detail in the shadow area was not recovered (particularly the shadows on the porch on the right side of the photo). The HDR in Lightroom did a good job of retrieving sky details.

       

      So, for over a year, I just didn't do any HDRs. Then, Google made its NIK collection free and decided to try another HDR with a different scene, so I would compare the LR HDR to the NIK HDR Efex Pro 2. (And I specifically took the time to watch the tutorial videos on NIK HDR Efex Pro 2). This time I took a six shot sequence, one stop apart, using a tripod. Shown below are the two HDR results, Lightroom HDR on the left and HDR Efex Pro 2 on the right. Both have had a little post-HDR adjustments using the different softwares, but I see a number of differences. The contrast and color saturation is higher on the right; note the tiles on the roof and towers are more well defined in the photo on the right; also the photo on the right has more shadow detail in the door area on the right of the building; and the photo on the right has more sky detail and color).

       

      2016-05-14 14_37_39-Lightroom 5-2 - Adobe Photoshop Lightroom - Library.png

      So again, Lightroom HDR doesn't work as well as I expected, and the HDR Efex Pro 2 turns out a nicer result, with roughly similar effort.

       

      I'd appreciate any comments you might have. I can make the original 6 RAW images available on DropBox if anyone would like to play with them.

        • 1. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
          JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          The one that was done using Lightroom looks like you didn't have the auto align feature set. It looks a little out of focus, and Consequently the roof tiles are not distinguishable. If your lens as image stabilization, was it turned off? Mind you, I'm not trying to criticize what you did. It is an interesting image. I haven't been convinced that HDR is much better than working with a well exposed raw file. But I haven't tried the Nik HDR plug-in for quite a while. Maybe I will have to give it a try again.

          • 2. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
            ssprengel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

            Can you share your 6 raws?  The LR one looks more natural in it's contrast.  The Nik one has more grungy tone compression.

            • 3. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
              Per Berntsen Adobe Community Professional

              It's hard to tell without seeing the original files, but maybe this scene doesn't have enough dynamic range to work well with HDR?

              Could you have achieved a similar result with just one exposure?

              HDR works very well for me, like in the shot below, which was made using only two exposures.

               

              • 4. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                I just tried to run the Nik HDR feature, and it crashed both times without creating the HDR image. I'm able to do the editing in the HDR interface, but when I try to save the image it returns to Lightroom and tells me that the HDR application has crashed. I guess that's why I haven't been using it. Any suggestions?

                 

                Here is one that I did last summer using the Lightroom HDR feature. Four images, one f-stop differential on each image. I probably over sharpened it a bit. And I couldn't recover all of the shadows in the trees.

                DSC_0771-Edit.jpg

                • 5. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                  dj_paige Level 9

                  JimHess wrote:

                   

                  The one that was done using Lightroom looks like you didn't have the auto align feature set. It looks a little out of focus, and Consequently the roof tiles are not distinguishable. If your lens as image stabilization, was it turned off? Mind you, I'm not trying to criticize what you did. It is an interesting image. I haven't been convinced that HDR is much better than working with a well exposed raw file. But I haven't tried the Nik HDR plug-in for quite a while. Maybe I will have to give it a try again.

                  Good points. That will help next time I do this. No, I didn't think to turn the image stabilization off ... but yet from the same 6 RAW images, Lightroom has trouble with this while HDR Pro Efex 2 does not. Maybe I'll try it again in Lightroom and turn the deghosting up higher. UPDATE: Turning the deghosting up higher doesn't help with the criticisms I had of this HDR image.

                   

                  My unscientific study has also led me to the conclusion that I am not convinced that HDR produces better results than a well exposed RAW, with proper editing including some brushing to bring out details in highlights or shadows.

                  • 6. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                    dj_paige Level 9

                    ssprengel wrote:

                     

                    Can you share your 6 raws? The LR one looks more natural in it's contrast. The Nik one has more grungy tone compression.

                    I agree that the NIK looks a little more grungy, but I wasn't sure exactly how to turn that down further in the NIK software. I did try, I thought I turned it down as much as I could.

                     

                    The six images are:

                    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/77800888/DSC_0872.nef

                    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/77800888/DSC_0873.nef

                    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/77800888/DSC_0874.nef

                    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/77800888/DSC_0875.nef

                    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/77800888/DSC_0876.nef

                    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/77800888/DSC_0877.nef

                    • 7. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                      Per Berntsen Adobe Community Professional

                      Here's my interpretation of the scene.

                      I only used #874 and 875 to create the HDR, there wasn't really any additional useful information in the other four shots, and I find the result completely satisfactory. And I think the shadow in the doorframe on the right would look unnatural if it was brighter.

                      I was also able to create a virtually identical image out of #875  874 alone, at the expense of some shadow noise.

                       

                      DSC_0874-HDR.jpg

                       

                      settings.png

                      • 8. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                        ssprengel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                        Yes, a single LDR raw is preferable to an HDR unless the dynamic range really is too large for a single raw to encapsulate.  The backlit garden scene can be toned similarly with one raw vs an HDR, but to have the sun also in the shot it needs to be an HDR:

                        • 9. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                          dj_paige Level 9

                          Per Berntsen wrote:

                           

                          Here's my interpretation of the scene.

                          I only used #874 and 875 to create the HDR, there wasn't really any additional useful information in the other four shots, and I find the result completely satisfactory. And I think the shadow in the doorframe on the right would look unnatural if it was brighter.

                          I was also able to create a virtually identical image out of #875 874 alone, at the expense of some shadow noise.

                          Yes, in the end I have come to the same concllusion as you, that LR HDR doesn't help much for this series of photos. When I took the photos, my thought was that because of the position of the sun, I would either get the sky blown out, or the front of the building in shadow, and indeed that's the case if you look at all six of the photos. But Lightroom's non-HDR tools can do a reasonably good job of compensating, especially with some local adjustments.

                           

                          The shadow on the doorframe is a matter of opinion. When I do architectural photography, I want to see those details if possible, even if it seems somewhat unnatural to some people. So I do want those details and the Lightroom HDR didn't uncover them for me.

                           

                          So my summary is that Lightroom HDR (again) isn't doing what I want and isn't doing what I expected, and I am actually happier with the HDR Efex Pro 2 result, even if it is, to use ssprengel's word, a little "grungy".

                          • 10. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                            ssprengel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                            There house is not really an HDR scene, and it's possible to get the same look using one image or an HDR of 2 images, then a comparison with Nik's severe toning options.  If you want something realistic LR does fine.  If you're trying to get a grunge-art look then you need another tool:

                            • 11. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                              BKKDon Level 4

                              Still having problems with excessive noise created in the shadows, this was from 3 images 2EV difference on each image.

                               

                              HDR Noise.jpg

                              • 12. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                                Bob Somrak Level 5

                                dj_paige wrote:



                                The shadow on the doorframe is a matter of opinion. When I do architectural photography, I want to see those details if possible, even if it seems somewhat unnatural to some people. So I do want those details and the Lightroom HDR didn't uncover them for me.

                                 

                                One plus is you get less noise in the shadows (I don't see what BKKDon is seeing) and better recovery of the highlights.   The HDR feature would be more useful if the Highlights and Shadows sliders were expanded to +/- 150 instead of +/-100.  Adobe decided to double the Exposure slider to +/-10. I would  like to see a Lightroom  created HDR that needs more adjustment than the standard +/-5 exposure.  HDR along with the Face Recognition are half baked solutions that could use some more work.

                                • 13. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                                  dj_paige Level 9

                                  Bob Somrak wrote:

                                   

                                  One plus is you get less noise in the shadows (I don't see what BKKDon is seeing) and better recovery of the highlights. The HDR feature would be more useful if the Highlights and Shadows sliders were expanded to +/- 150 instead of +/-100. Adobe decided to double the Exposure slider to +/-10. I would like to see a Lightroom created HDR that needs more adjustment than the standard +/-5 exposure. HDR along with the Face Recognition are half baked solutions that could use some more work.

                                  I agree with all of this, Bob (except the Face Recognition, which I haven't tried). I can't see any value in the HDR for me at this time, I can't see why you'd ever want Exposure to go to +/- 10.

                                  • 14. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                                    dj_paige Level 9

                                    The two image HDR is pretty nice. May I ask which two of the images you used? I'd probably want the house to have a little higher exposure. The single image LR Toned is also about what I would expect to get if I simply edited the best of the 6 images.

                                     

                                    I don't really understand why you say it is not really an HDR scene, with a single exposure I either have to get the sky blown out or the front of the building in shadow.

                                    • 15. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                                      ssprengel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      In my mind HDR means that there is either black clipping or white clipping in the raw data so there is more tonal range than can be encoded in a single raw file.

                                       

                                      The toned single LDR image (874) is very similar to the toned two-image (872+875) "HDR" so the two-image "HDR" is really just an LDR image.

                                       

                                      Here's another version of the 2-image "HDR" with the settings visible:

                                       

                                      I can tone the single-image LDR to not have the sky blown out if I reduce the Whites slider quite a bit.  I just chose to leave the clouds bright white in both LDR and "HDR" treatments.

                                       

                                      There is also much more fine detail in that single image and no tree-flower-alignment glitches as compared to the "HDR":

                                      • 16. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                                        trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                        JimHess wrote:

                                         

                                        The one that was done using Lightroom looks like you didn't have the auto align feature set. It looks a little out of focus, and Consequently the roof tiles are not distinguishable.

                                        I agree. Even with the camera on a sturdy tripod if you can't trip the shutter and adjust the exposure bracketing totally hands-off the camera will move slightly. Even with Auto Align checked the HDR image has lower sharpness than a single image file (DSC_0875). When switching between the bracketed image file previews in the Library module there is very obvious camera movement. It may be due to the lens image stabilization being ON, camera movement when changing exposure settings, movement when tripping the shutter manually, or all of these combined! I suggest trying the same shoot totally hands-off using the camera's auto-bracketing setting (-2, 0 +2) and self timer to trip the shutter. You may need to dial-in exposure compensation to get a good three-image bracket.

                                         

                                        NOTE: The flower artifacts are due to wind movement and can be fixed using deghost. With 'High' Deghost setting the flower artifacts are gone and overall the image appears much sharper!

                                        HDR Deghost High.jpg

                                         

                                        One other control in LR that can add to create a more dynamic HDR image is Dehaze. Try a setting of ~35 Dehaze.

                                        • 17. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                                          ssprengel Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                          With Deghost on the artifacts are gone and the image is sharper because the HDR result is a single LDR image for the most part.  Another argument to use the single LDR image in the first place with this LDR scene.

                                          • 18. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                                            whsprague Level 4

                                            I'm reluctant to attempt contribute this esteemed group and discussion!  However, I like the HDR in Lightroom a lot.  I started with Nik a couple years ago and tried Photomatix.  I prefer Lightroom.

                                             

                                            I look for scenes that have extreme exposure ranges.  My favorite camera can rapidly bracket 5 exposures.  As a tourist, serious setups with tripods, etc., get in the way of the travel purpose.  A fast, handheld burst is almost a "snap shot" and usually the best circumstances will allow.   Later, when home and with time, I can enjoy reliving the trip through Lightroom.  Where I have the extreme exposure ranges and snapshot bursts, the HDR can be rewarding. 

                                             

                                            Consider shooting the inside of an old church or castle with ancient windows.  Can you get both the inside textures and the outside view?  Nik and Photomatix tend toward intensifying the colors where Lightroom lets you do that later with its sliders. 

                                             

                                            Please consider this example.HDR Examples (1 of 3).jpg

                                            • 19. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                                              whsprague Level 4

                                              A second example picks up some interior texture and color while also showing there is something to be seen outside through glass so old it is wavy.  HDR Examples (2 of 3).jpg

                                              • 20. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                                                whsprague Level 4

                                                Before I leave you alone, my third example amazed me with what Lightroom can do.  I shot 6 sets of 5 exposures.  All were hand held.  As a tourist in a group, there was no opportunity to do more for setup.  When I got home, I used Lightroom to HDR process each set.  Then I used Lightroom to Panorama process the 6 resulting images.  As you can see it was a very dark and ancient church with light streaming through the small, old windows.  A single exposure would not have picked up the exposure range and I certainly did not have a lens wide enough for this enormous cathedral. HDR Examples (3 of 3).jpg

                                                 

                                                Don' look too close!  Once I had the 30 exposures blended together, I had a huge RAW file with too many tourists in it.  Some were moving and blurred by HDR.  The only tourists that added interest were sitting in a back pew.  Very new with Photoshop, I this resultant image as an opportunity to learn and experiment with the various ways to remove unwanted parts.  Enlarged, printed and on a well lit wall it looks good enough that I'm happy with it.  

                                                 

                                                That Lightroom could merge, blend and process 30 handheld exposures at all impressed me.  Can you pixel peep the parts?  Absolutely, but as a story of what I saw, the image works for me. 

                                                • 21. Re: HDR in Lightroom, Part 2
                                                  trshaner Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                                  ssprengel wrote:

                                                   

                                                  With Deghost on the artifacts are gone and the image is sharper because the HDR result is a single LDR image for the most part.

                                                  That is correct and I should have elaborated. LR's HDR is detecting movement in the buildings that isn't correctable using "align." This would indicate some kind of non-linear movement. The only thing that could do this is the lens image stabilizer. It's a spinning lens element that stays fixed (gyroscope)  when the camera moves, which keeps the image centered. It also apparently introduces some additional barrel or pincushion distortion. So it's important to turn OFF the lens image stabilizer. Some lenses are supposed to be "tripod aware" and turn off automatically when on a stable tripod mount. I'd still choose to turn it off if a switch is provided. It also increases the battery run-time.