HDR schoolhouse: the how-to (sorta)

You notice I'm not using the word "tutorial" here, because far be it from me to offer any type of Photoshop advice - ha! :-) My Photoshop for Dummies book has been sitting sadly on my night table, and I just started the 2nd chapter. *sigh*

Not only that, but this isn't even the right way to do an HDR photo. But it's the way I do it, so take my method with a grain of salt.

To confuse you further, let's start with the final image:


I used a tripod and took two different exposures of the schoolhouse. On the left, I exposed for the school, and on the right I underexposed to get the dark, stormy sky. (The camera cannot "see" the picture as it is above even though the human eye does. It will not come out of the camera that way. You have to combine exposures).


This isn't the "true" way to do it, but I layered the two pictures on top of each other in Photoshop. I put the one with the white sky on top. Then I created a layer mask, and started "erasing" the white sky, revealing the dark sky underneath.


I wish my sky was darker (like in my underexposed image), but that would have involved much more time and patience erasing around the schoolhouse and the trees. I had to bring down the opacity so it wasn't so time-consuming to blend. My final result was a little gloomy so I used Florabella's wisteria action to give it a little pop.

If you'd like to try this method and can't make heads nor tails of my faux-tutorial, I apologize! I tried to use an HDR command within CS4, but it didn't work at all for me.

My method is just layering two pictures on top of each other, and erasing part of the top one. If I can do it, trust me...you can too!

Again, to all of you who have left such sweet comments, a million apologies that I have not visited your blogs in return. I'm not trying to be a crummy e-friend, just trying to be a good mom (and oh how I fail miserably at times). We have yet another busy day tomorrow, and I will be in blog-free mode once again. Happiest Wednesday to you! :-)

Edit: I just wanted to include a quick response to Ashley's question, in case others are wondering the same thing. No, this is definitely not true High Dynamic Range. I think you're supposed to actually combine 3 exposures (I only did two), and there's an actual program that you can use. I've seen a lot of HDR photos done at night with lights, fountains, etc, so maybe that could contribute to the glowiness. For those that haven't seen a real HDR photo, I encourage you to google it - they're so cool! (Although then my picture is going to look very, very sad). LOL! :-)


Ashley Sisk said...

So is that all HDR is? I've seen people do it where there is a glow to it. Not that I don't love this photo, but I'm completely confused by HDR. I need practice.

SarahinSC said...

That's cool. I don't even know what an HDR image is (other than what you've told me here). Yours looks nice though!

SarahinSC said...

OK, just googled it for some more images to look at. I am SOOOOOOO not there yet in my photography! Good to know for future purposes though!

Anonymous said...

opps. commented on the wrong post anyways. Thanks! :)

Jess said...

I do this all. the. time. (Seriously)

It's so easy in RAW since you can make different exposures from the same file.

Sheri said...

Great shot! I'll have to spend some time reading through this.

Clare B said...

The photo is great and I love that you're so open about hating blending in photoshop - it's my pet-hate and I never have enough patience for it and I see all these lovely blended photos on the internet and just sign miserably at my own inpatience. Yeah for honnesty (and your result is still great).

cooperl788 said...

This photo turned out great! I never would have thought to do this - it's a really cool effect.

Courtney from The Story of Us said...

Great shot Karli! I'm gonna have to try this one day. :D

Adeena said...

I didn't know that it had a name ;) but I've done this, too. I love your schoolhouse shot! :)

Natalie said...

Thanks for explaining this. You pic looks great.