The HDR Toning command in Photoshop Creative Cloud lets you apply the full range of High Dynamic Range (HDR) contrast and exposure settings to individual images.
I’ve been experimenting with this functionality recently, and I’ve turned some rather drab camera raw files from a recent trip to Alsace, France, into stunning, artwork.
The dynamic range (ratio between dark and bright regions) in the visible world far exceeds the range of human vision and of images that are displayed on a monitor or printed. Although human eyes can adapt to very different brightness levels, most cameras and computer monitors can reproduce only a fixed dynamic range. Photographers, motion picture artists, and others working with digital images must be selective about what’s important in a scene because they are working with a limited dynamic range.
High dynamic range (HDR) images open up a new world of possibilities because they can represent the entire dynamic range of the visible world. Because all the luminance values in a real-world scene are represented proportionately and stored in an HDR image, adjusting the exposure of an HDR image is like adjusting the exposure when photographing a scene in the real world.
Here are the settings I’ve played with the most and found to be most important when manipulating for HDR toning. It is easy to go completely crazy and over do any of these settings, so it’s important to play around with subtle changes and combinations (and always work on a copy of your original!).
Edge Glow: Radius specifies the size of the local brightness regions. Strength specifies how far apart two pixels’ tonal values must be before they’re no longer part of the same brightness region.
Tone and Detail:Dynamic range is maximized at a Gamma setting of 1.0; lower settings emphasize midtones, while higher settings emphasize highlights and shadows. Exposure values reflect f-stops. Drag the Detail slider to adjust sharpness and the Shadow and Highlight sliders to brighten or darken these regions.
Color: Vibrance adjusts the intensity of subtle colors, while minimizing clipping of highly saturated colors. Saturation adjusts the intensity of all colors from –100 (monochrome) to +100 (double saturation).
Check out these Before and After examples from my 2016 trip to Alsace, France.