Photomatix Tutorial Plus Add Rays in Photoshop

February 26, 2011

General Tips, Photo Tips

Since last week, a few people have ask how the picture of Brighton Pier was edited, so I thought I would try to create a tutorial;
The first step was to actually visit Brighton and take some suitable exposures.  The important thing is to gain more than one image with different exposure values.  Most enthusiast cameras have a setting called something like auto exposure bracket which will do this automatically.  This is what you end up with;
Various Exposures
Bracketed Exposures
As you can see, the pictures are exactly the same view (it is worth using a tripod to ensure as little movement between images as possible), but each one is either lighter or darker that the others.
The next step was to open these exposures in an HDR application; I use Photomatix 4;
Select Files

Select Files

When you click on open, after a short pause a new dialog box will open up;
Processing Options

Processing Options

The allow you to change some of the preprocessing options in Photomatix.
Always select “align source images” and pick one of the two alternatives.  If you don’t you will get a ghosted effect where the camera may have moved between the shots.
I always leave the “Reduce Ghosting Artifacts” box ticked.  This one tackles a slightly different problem where something in the image may have moved between shots.
I use Olympus SLRs and these can be quite noisy in lower light and dark areas, so I also always tick the reduce noise box.  When you are happy click on the OK button.  Because the selective deghosting box was ticked, another menu will appear:
Selective DeGhosting

Selective DeGhosting

In this particular image there is no real ghosting caused by moving objects so I just clicked OK.
Make Adjustments

Make Adjustments

Then you will see a window like the one below.  Depending on how fast your computer can crunch this may take a little while to appear.  You will notice a “film strip” along the bottom.  This give thumbnail views of presettings to show differing effects.  When you find one you like click on it.  The bar dow the left contains tools to allow fine adjustments and manual overrides.
When you are happy with the results, press the “Process” button;
Save in Photomatix

Save in Photomatix

You need to save this image by going to file “save” or “Save as” and chosing the location to save it in.
Then it is time to switch from Photomatix to Photoshop,
Selection In Photoshop

Selection In Photoshop

I do not like the very bright area of sky in the top left so let’s do something about it.  As you can see above I have selected the bright area; I did this by using the magic wand tool.
Then go to edit>Fill, this will bring up a box like this;
Content Aware Fill

Content Aware Fill

Ensure that the content aware box is ticked and press OK.  I Should point out that “content aware fill” is only found in the latest versions of Photoshop. It is very simple, however, a similar effect can be achieved by use of the cloning tool.
After Content Aware Fill

After Content Aware Fill

As you can see, Photoshop has done a pretty good job of filling in the blank area.  You will also notice that in this step I have used the dodge tool to lighten the sides of the buildings on the pier.  The next step is to duplicate the layer.  This is so we can start to create the rays of light.
New Lights Layer

New Lights Layer

By using the levels controls in Photoshop (I only want to see the highlights in this layer) I have moved the black selector most of the way over to the right.  This shops the very light areas in the sky and also the sea.  However because I do not want light rays to radiate from the sea, I use the paint brush tool set to black and paint over any “light sources” I do not wish to use.
To create the “ray” effect I use the radial blur filter;
Radial Blur

Radial Blur

I have set the amount to maximum, chosen zoom and chosen good quality.  You will notice in the right of the dialog box, there is a graphical depiction of where the radiating effect will originate from.  click in this box and move the origin around until it appears in the same place as the light sours in your picture.  Then click OK.  You can repeat this two or three times to maximise the effect.
The last step is to go back to the layers menu and change the blend mode to screen, crop the image and viola;
Finished Result

Finished Result

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About Peter Downer

Keen amateur photographer experimenting in digital...

View all posts by Peter Downer

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One Comment on “Photomatix Tutorial Plus Add Rays in Photoshop”

  1. photographicauk Says:

    Not quite good enough to add that sort of detail…