A fun trick with Photoshop

I have to say I’m having a great deal of fun with Photoshop. As some one who used The GIMP for years, and then moved over to Pixelmator, I never thought I’d say that. These two applications did what I wanted them to do, and they did it well 1. So well, in fact that I never pined for Adobe’s offering. I probably never would have had Apple not killed Aperture, which prompted my move to the photography package in Adobe’s creative cloud.

I’m still getting used to Lightroom, but I’m beginning to fall in love with the Photoshop integrations – new tricks 2 are popping up any time I go delving into the interface. Today was one of my most favorite discoveries, merging photos into HDR images.

I thought to look for the feature after taking some photos down by the frozen Delaware River. I took several pictures of a tree on the bank, with the ice making up the field, at several focal lengths. While the images were not exactly the same 3, they were close enough that I thought focus-stacking them would be an interesting exercise. While I didn’t find how to focus-stack, I did discover the ability to perform an HDR merge.

My first attempt, using the two similar pictures, didn’t end with entirely usable results. It did however, give me ideas. These led me back to Lightroom, where I created a virtual copy of an image and developed it using completely different values from the original. My goal was to make the sky become more defined as it washed out in the original. Once I developed the images the way I wanted I selected both copies and merged them in Photoshop. The default results weren’t anything to write home about, but when I found the presets in the dialog things got interesting. My favorite has been “Surreal.” The results of which you can see below. I’m quite pleased.

Icy Delaware River, processed with an HDR merge in Photoshop

  1. In fact check out The GIMP and Pixelmator, they are awesome. 
  2. For me, that is, I’m a novice and experienced PS users may scoff all they want. 
  3. I was tripod-less.