One of my favorite things about HDR Efex Pro 2 is that the starting point presented by the software is a really natural, good-looking image. With the range of powerful tools available, the image can be tweaked and enhanced to exactly match the effect I’m going for.
Image © Ed Heaton
The starting point looks really great, but it could use a little more punch. To accomplish this goal, I did the following:
|Step 1: Using the Tone Compression section in the adjustment panel on the right hand side of the interface, I slid the Tone Compression slider to the right to lighten the shadows and darken the highlights. I then increased the Method Strength slider to control the amount of Drama and Detail in this image.|
Step 2: Now that I have the tonal range I want, I can further enhance the image by opening up the Tonality section. Clicking on the word Tonality expanded the section and provided me with access to the tools. Using the Exposure slider, I brightened the image globally.
Next, I increased the Highlights slider which brightened the lighter portions of the image. In this case, to make sure the sky and reflections are bright enough, I increased the Highlights slider to 45%. You can also use the Shadows slider to lighter or darken the darker tones in the image, however I liked the tonality of the dark areas already.
I then increased contrast by dragging the Contrast slider to the right, which increased the overall dimension of the photo, helping to create that pop that I was looking for.
Adjusting the Blacks and Whites sliders along with the Contrast slider helped to fine-tune the white point and the black point. Increasing the Blacks slider lightened the black point ensuring that there was full detail in the shadows. Moving the Whites slider to the right lightened the Highlights so that we have bright highlights with full detail, and a full range of tonality in the image.
It’s important to check out the histogram while adjusting the Blacks and Whites sliders, especially using the highlight and shadow clipping warnings. Rolling over either of these options will show the pure black (red) or pure white areas (green). You can also click on the option to leave it displayed on your image until you click the option again.
|Step 3: Finally, with the tonality adjusted and the image looking great, I clicked on the OK or SAVE button in the lower right corner to save the image and return to my host application.|
|Clicking on the Ok (or Save) or the Cancel button will close HDR Efex Pro 2 and bring you back to your host application|
Image © Ed Heaton