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by evan-pak

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I have created a HDR image from a single raw file. The way I have created it was

  1. Open the RAW file in Photoshop camera raw.
  2. Do some adjustments like enhancing the color, cropping etc.
  3. Exporting the first image as TIFF.
  4. Change exposure to +2 and exporting next one.
  5. Change exposure to -2 and exporting third one.
  6. Adding all three TIFF files to Photomatrix Pro and making the final HDR.

This works well, but I am not getting realistic sky. Sky parts which are closer to the subject have a white color.

Why does this happen and how can I fix it?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

I both agree and disagree with Matt. I agree it is just standard HDR halos, but I disagree on how to fix it.

I do a lot of HDR work, but I concentrate on photorealistic HDR, not the Stuck in Customs style. Here one of my shots:

enter image description here

Notice that there are not any halos. (And in the hi-rez version you can see that the moon is properly exposed!)

Smooth Highlights is what you want to use if you ace using Tone Mapping, turn it to the right. It will brighten the sky and remove the halo around the building. And, when you are done, take it back in Photoshop and adjust your brightness and contrast. I find the best way to get photorealistic HDR is to not worry too much about B&C in Photomatix but rather fix it afterwards. Get the look you want in Photomatix, get the tonality in Photoshop (or Lightroom).

I just reprocessed the shot and turned Smooth Highlights all the way to the left. (Yes, in addition to saving your RAWs, you need to save your Photomatix XMP files so you can go back.)

enter image description here

This shot has that typical dark HDR sky with an obvious halo around the building. Yes, the sky was darker slightly near the top, but notice how the brightness tracks the house's outline! That certainly wasn't there in the scene. (Note, I didn't straighten or crop this as the original so you can easily see the halo.)

One trick to see halos when they aren't obvious, but still there, is to zoom way back. Here's the same image downsampled to 200 pixels. The halo jumps out at you now.

enter image description here

And I do agree with Matt, you probably don't need HDR for that shot at all, unless of course, you want the Stuck in Customs style, in which case the halo is probably fine. Not my cup of tea but the Internet seems to not mind.

Oh, and one more thing, Photomatix has a million sliders, there are certainly other ways to get what you want, just sit and play with them. But be warned, they all seem to interact with each other!

share|improve this answer
Thanks for the explanation – Appu Mar 21 '12 at 9:26

What you're seeing are halos that are the result of Photomatix trying maximise contrast locally. This usually works fine for detailed areas but areas with no detail such as the sky you get unnatural looking halos.

One thing you can try is increasing the "light smoothing" slider. This will spread the brightness change over a larger area. It probably wont eliminate it altogether, for this you might have to manually composite in the sky from the original image.

Or better yet evaluate if you really need to use Photomatix at all. The dynamic range of the original scene isn't really that high...

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You could also 1.Decrease the amount of the strength setting in tone mapping 2.Switch from HDR to exposure fusion… – dpollitt Mar 20 '12 at 13:21

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