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Double Processing HDR

One of the classes I took at Photoshop World was Mastering HDR in Photoshop by Matt Kloskowski. While pretty much everything in that class was new to me (again, my version of HDR previously was doing a process, and clicking the "ok" button), the one thing that really excited me about it was when he suggested to double process HDR brackets if necessary.

What's double processing? Doing it twice! Once to make, say, the buildings look good, then reprocess it to make the sky look good. So now you have two HDR images, each with different parts that look decent. Put both into their own layers in Photoshop, then use a layer mask to "paint out" the bad sky in the top layer, revealing the good sky underneath.

I saw Matt do this during his class, and the lightbulb came on. I hadn't had a chance to try this, however, until now. I'm really glad I knew this technique, since I most likely would've just called this photo a wash, and moved on to something else.

After doing an initial HDR process, and throwing in some PhotoTools filters, and a little bit extra in Lightroom, this is what I was left with:


Not horrible, but upon closer look, the sky around the roof of the building on the right looks weird, and it also looks weird around the top of the sign, and white underneath the sign. I definitely wasn't happy with this. Then I remembered what I learned in Matt's class, and figured I'd at least try it. While I don't have the sky reprocess, this is what I was left with after combining them and doing the layer mask:

Golden sign

For my skills, I'm actually pretty impressed with being able to pull this off. I didn't really have any doubts that it would work, but I wasn't sure if it were something that I could do. It honestly is much easier than it seems since you only have to focus on one part of the photo during each process. For this I decided to go with the more photorealistic look instead of the surreal, and I'm pleased with how it turned out.

I'm sold on the double processing.

My First Foray into onOne Software's PhotoTools

While at Photoshop World a few weeks ago, I sat through several demos of the onOne Software Plugin Suite 5. Honestly, I had no intention of buying the entire suite, but after watching demos from Brian Matiash, Dave Cross, and a few of the onOne Software guys, I was sold. At some point it just gets more cost effective to buy the suite. And with the NAPP/secret show special discount, it was a really good price, so I couldn't pass it up.

I got it home, and still wasn't sure exactly what to do with it. I mean, kudos to the demo guys for making it look so easy, but in reality, as a newbie sitting down with it for the first time, it was overwhelming. Fortunately I caught the Scott Stulberg webinar on Creating Images with Impact which cleared a bunch of my questions up. I was ready to at least make some attempt at trying to use it, and decided to tackle each plugin one at a time. First up, PhotoTools!

It just so happened, that evening I had taken a photo of a double rainbow (all the way!) from the deck. Here's the out of the camera RAW photo:

Original photo

Typical rainy day, cloudy, dreary looking, photo. It's not bad, but I figured it could use some touchups. Normally I'd just pull it into Lightroom and do the best I could with it, but today I had PhotoTools, so wanted to see what it could do.

This is the point where I'd mention exactly what presets I applied to the photo, however I can't seem to figure out how to see the history of what you did in PhotoTools. I'm sure it's there, and I have a support email into onOne, and I'll update this when I know how to do it, but for now, just take my word for it, that I did a bunch of stuff. :)

After editing in PhotoTools, I did very minimal edits in Lightroom. More vibrance, more clarity, a little extra luminence smoothing, and here's the final result:

Double Rainbow!

I kind of like it honestly. The house is a tiny bit yellow, but I'm leaving it as is because you have the sun shining on it, which is what the color is from, I think. In the original photo, you can barely see the second rainbow, and even the first one is a little dull.

Granted I'm still extremely new at PhotoTools, but I'm sold on using it. It's actually surprisingly easy to use, and as long as you have the patience to go through the various presets, you can easily touch up your photo almost any way you want to.


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