And here are two wonderful Apprentices who made some lovely posts about their thoughts and experiences! The first is from Rose Fredriksen and the second is from Marjorie McDonald.
Daily Photo – Happy Girls in Guangxi!
One night I went out in the rain to take photos while staying in the little town of Yangshao. It was great fun! I was using my Sony A7r and my Leica 35mm f/1.4 which requires manual focus. Naturally, this means I need both hands to take photos. Luckily I had my guide Andy with me to help hold the umbrella!
In addition to our new dog, my wife has also found it necessary to get three chickens. We built a special coup and stuff. And then after we built it, she decided she wanted it on the other side of the house. The chooks did not help with that move. And here we are, about 15 weeks into it, and these chooks have only laid THREE eggs. She says it’s because their too young… I don’t know what to believe any more with these damned things.
Daily Photo – Feeding Chooks in Feng Huang
When in Feng Huang, I decided to go down to the river to take some photos. There was a direct way, but I thought it might be more interesting to zig-zag my way there through alleys. One of the most wonderful things about China is how safe it is. I never had any fear for my life or anything as I move around these places. It’s so safe, in fact, that it’s almost eerie! But, eerie in a good way, of course…
As regular visitors know, we get a lot of new traffic here via my two tutorials. I basically created them because I was getting literally dozens of emails per day asking how I do these photos. I always feel bad totally ignoring people, but I just don’t have time to email back everyone. Instead, I put together two tutorials. The first HDR Tutorial is a free and has helped thousands of people get into HDR Photography. The second, newer tutorial is on Texturing has over an hour-long video and includes 100 hi-res textures.Â I selected them from over 2,000 textures and refined them down to just the best!
Jeff Clow: “This collection of textures is truly world class – and by that I mean not simply how brilliant they are, but the fact that they’ve been compiled from fascinating places around the world. The unique textures work superbly well as backgrounds and overlays, and I highly recommend them to any photographer who wants to improve and enhance their images. This texture package is ‘must have’ tool for any serious photographer.”
Scott Dungan: ” What a resource! Stuck in Customs World of Textures has provided me with textures that are difficult or impossible to produce in Photoshop. These textures allow me to produce images with the hand coated look of early photographic processes. Thank you for your World of Textures Stuck in Customs.”
Scotty Graham:“I just downloaded the premium package, and am very impressed with both the quality of the textures and the video tutorial. Trey’s video tutorial is worthwhile to the professional as well as the Photoshop beginner. As a professional photographer, I enjoyed watching Trey’s workflow and creative process unfold right before my eyes….(would be nice to see the same kind of thing with his HDR images). His textures are bar-none some of the best I have seen and/or used. They rival anything else you may see for sale on line, and for 100 textures, his price is very fair. If you are looking to move your photography style up one notch, don’t hesitate to purchase this package….you will not regret it.”
Chris Nowakowski: “All I have to say is WOW! These textures are amazing! They blow everything and anything that I have seen out the water! The video tutorial is so easy to use, even the pro that I am, I still learned a few new tricks! I still remember when I first heard about you and I used your tutorial on HDR to further develop my skills. That tutorial helped me make the art I do today. Now, with this tutorial not only am I not worried about getting my ROI out of it, but I also know that it will inspire me as an artist to further per sue my photography and take it to new heights. It’s hard to sum it all up. All I know is that this rocks as much as you do.”
Thelonius Gonzo: “Just viewed the tutorial. I know dollars are worth something (less and less everyday) but honestly, if you are interested at all in texture effects, and like me, are not already a Photoshop expert, then this tutorial is well worth the asking price. I swear I may need a few weeks to really ingest all of it. The only downside of this is that I feel like I’m cheating.”
Do you like taking photos or perhaps do you like people taking photos of you in all your fabuloso Burner gear? Well come on out and join this fun event – this is my 8th annual photo walk in Black Rock City and all are welcome! 🙂 It’s great for beginner photographers all the way to advanced – bring anything from a mobile phone to a DSLR! We’ll roam the streets of BRC and capture some of the magic of Burning Man together.
I’ll be giving lots of tips and tricks to help you on your own creative journey. We also talk a lot about the creative process and how it can be quite an active meditation bringing more consciousness, presence, and awesomeness into your life. So, come, bring a friend or three, and let’s have a ball. Word has it that we’ll get a bunch of Burner Girls (and guys!) too that just dance around and have thousands of photos taken of them.
And after, we’ll share all the photos here in the Facebook event. Check the comments in the event to make some new Instagram friends with fellow photo walkers too! 🙂
We’ll meet outside of Center Camp at TUESDAY at 6:30 PM and start the crawl from there!
See today’s photo ? I also made an animated version that turned out great! You can see it over here on Facebook – it should auto-loop!
And if you go over to the Plotagraph Pro page you’ll see they have new pricing including a monthly plan. Give it a whirl… very fun! If you check my Instagram Feed you’ll see I’ve been posting a lot lately 🙂
Daily Photo – Ye Olde Pirate Shippe
On my last night in San Juan, I went around to do a little exploratory fun walk with my friend Scott Jarvie. After moving around and through the town, we ended out by the docks. How pretty eh? It was a nice and moody night with all the clouds that made it even more romantic. I mean, I love a good romantic night with Jarvie.
Welcome to a page about HDR and Photoshop. I put it together based on many questions I get about how to create an HDR in Photoshop.
Aurora HDR 2018 Now for Mac or Windows!
Aurora HDR 2018 is now available for both Mac and…. for Windows too! That’s right, the world’s leading HDR photography software has been entirely redesigned with exciting new features, improved user interface, speed improvements, Windows support and more. I’ve been using it a ton and I think you’ll be blown away!
Current users of Aurora HDR should check this link to see if you qualify for the upgrade price. New users can purchase Aurora HDR 2018 and my new Aurora HDR tutorial in my online store.
Already own Aurora HDR Pro and want to upgrade? Click here to find out if you qualify.
Sneak Peek Inside Aurora HDR 2018
Below is a sneak peek video I made that shows off just SOME of the new features!
Many regular readers here who have seen my full HDR Tutorial know that Photoshop is a major part of the equation. However, I would caution people against only using Photoshop to create an HDR.
I have created thousands and thousands of HDR Photographs. This site is extremely popular both with professional and amateur photographers that are into cutting-edge visualization. As such, I get many offers from dozens of software packages to produce HDR images. I try all the software, including every version of Photoshop, so I am very comfortable in stating judgments on the matter.
New to HDR?
If you are new to HDR, you can enjoy my friendly, easy-to-use HDR Tutorial. I’ve taught tens of thousands around the world how to do it… I’m sure I can teach you too! The tutorial is free!
I recommend that Photoshop is very much part of the process, but the first step should be to process the photo using Aurora HDR on a Mac or Photomatix on Windows (until Aurora for Windows is available). See below for the full explanation.
Announcing Aurora HDR 2017
Roughly one year ago I partnered with the amazing team at Macphun to develop an entirely new HDR software tool called Aurora HDR Pro. Since it’s release over 1.5million people have downloaded it. I’m blown away! Thank you for believing in us!
Well, we’ve got BIG news again! We’ve spent the last year developing an ENTIRELY NEW version of Aurora HDR. We’ve included a ton of new features based on your direct feedback, plus the team really focused on speed. This new version is FAST! And contains every imaginable tool needed to produce high-quality dramatic images, as well as Presets and helpful Tip Videos made by myself.
Note: Aurora HDR 2017 is still for Macs only. Yes, we truly are working on a Windows version (harder than it sounds). Sign up for our newsletter and when it’s released you will be the first to know!
I get this question a lot! I have an answer for you, but it is not what you expect.
First off, I have a FREE HDR Tutorial for Mac or HDR Tutorial for Windows here on StuckInCustoms.com that describes the step by step process. You’ll see that Photoshop is sometimes part of the process, although I strongly recommend you use something else to do the “HDR” bit.
I don’t use Photoshop at all when using Aurora HDR 2017 — this is because Aurora has layers and lets me fix everything right inside of there. Having said that, I may go into Photoshop in the end to use some content-aware-fill to get rid of annoying things like power lines or ugly birds. But I don’t use the HDR-in-Photoshop options…
Quick Verdict for HDR on Windows
Photomatix Pro is the clear winner. Photoshop “Merge to HDR” is much better than earlier iterations of the software, but it has few other redeeming qualities.
Faster (MUCH FASTER – see the chart below)
Upgraded noise-reduction just for HDR
Better ghosting control
and more image control for higher quality images
Photoshop “Merge to HDR” Pro excels in:
Having one integrated solution right inside Photoshop
Easier to learn because there are a few less controls
HDR in Lightroom
This article does not go into depth other than to say that HDR in Lightroom does not produce very strong results. The resulting image I would say has extremely subtle HDR effects, which some people like. Sometimes the effects are so subtle that I barely even notice a difference. The entire process is also very slow. Again, you can use the more powerful tools listed above (like Aurora HDR) to do subtle effects or more artsy effects.
Photoshop CS5 vs. Photomatix Pro Comparison
Note that this testing was done in CS5, although there have been no significant changes I can see since Photoshop CC has arrived.
RAW Photos – Loading 7 Images (before Tonemapping)
1:54 (Test 1)
2:01 (Test 2)
0:58 (Test 1)
0:56 (Test 2)
RAW Photos – I make adjustments, then click to process
* Photoshop gives you a warning about not using JPG photos to make an HDR. You have to click “OK”, but I did not include that wait time in my timings.
Test Subjects and System:
I chose a 7-exposure session from a lake at sunset near Nikko, Japan. The exposures ranged from -3 to +3.
I have a speedy 17″ MacBook Pro. I bought it about 9 months ago — the specs are to the right.
In the Photoshop test, the only things running were Photoshop (in 64-bit mode), Bridge, and Skitch for taking screenshots. In the Photomatix Pro test, I kept those running + Photomatix Pro.
Now, the Photoshop Merge to HDR Pro option does not allow me to turn on and off Auto-Alignment, Cropping, or anything else. Normally, I turn that off in Photomatix because I use a tripod. To keep the tests fair, I turned on the Align Source Images, Cropping, and Reduce Noise in Photomatix Pro. That way, it was doing the same tasks as Photoshop. However, in my normal conditions, I don’t have those turned on, which makes Photomatix even faster.
Also, as you can see I processed with RAW and JPG files. I preach in my HDR Tutorial that using JPGs is just fine. I don’t see any difference in quality. But, I do notice that JPGs are much faster. This is important!
In these tests, Photomatix Pro 4.0 was much much faster. There’s almost no comparison.
Photomatix Pro processed the images in 1:05 — Photoshop did the same job in 2:48. It was more than twice as fast!
There are two intense “Computer Processing” periods. The first is when you load the images into the program. After this is done, the human takes over and adjusts the sliders. Then there is a second period of processing.
Speed – Loading the Images
Photoshop “Merge to HDR” was slow. Painfully slow! During the loading of the images, it gives a few indications of why it is so slow. After a period of time it says “Aligning”. Then, after another bit, it says. “Transforming”. Then for another longer period, it says “Crop”. I did not touch the computer at all during this time… I kept the timer on my iPhone going to watch.
In these tests, the only thing I had running was Photoshop and Bridge. This is not typical. Note that I am usually running Google Chrome, Tweetdeck, Mail, and iTunes for music. So all the times you see in the chart are actually much higher, and the delta between Photoshop and Photomatix Pro grows even more.
My first broken test:
What I had running in the background for all the tests before the reboot:
Google Chrome with about 6 tabs (gmail, websites, nothing too taxing)
iTunes playing music
Apple Mail & iCal
The first time I ran it with Merge to HDR Pro, it took 6:05 (six minutes and five seconds) to load. Just amazingly slow! Then, I thought, “Well, I do have it in 32-bit mode,” since I was also running some old plugins. So I tried it again in 64-bit mode. I shut down Photoshop and re-opened. Then I did the Merge to HDR Pro option through Bridge again. The second time it took 13:10. THIRTEEN MINUTES. I was just about to Force Quit the program — I was sure something was wrong! How can this be — in 64-bit mode? Isn’t it supposed to be faster?
So I decided to reboot and try again. I was worried that maybe there had been a memory leak or something had just gummed up the works. Because thirteen minutes just didn’t make sense! Now, I am using big images from a Nikon D3X. And these were RAW files, but that still seems like way too long…
After I rebooted, I loaded NO OTHER PROGRAMS expect for Photoshop, Bridge, and Skitch. I did not like doing this for the test, because this is not a “normal” environment for me. I usually have several things running. This time, it was much faster and clocked in at 1:54. So, after this, I decided to restart the whole test and have nothing else running to keep the results as clean as possible.
Speed – Processing the Images
After you make your slider changes, you can process them. There is a period of waiting whilst the image processes. Again, Photomatix Pro was not just a little faster, but way faster.
For the RAW files, Photoshop took an average of 8 seconds and Photoshop Merge to HDR Pro took a whopping 51 seconds (two tests at :50 and :52).
And remember… I wasn’t doing anything else on the computer… I wasn’t checking the mail or tweeting or anything… just watching the water boil…
Photo Quality and Control
I’ve been using previous versions of Photomatix for years, so I am familiar with the sliders. Because I am a private tester, Photomatix would not allow me to post screenshots of the new GUI. However, it is very similar to previous versions.
The new Photoshop “Merge to HDR” dialogs are very similar to that of Photomatix Pro. However, they do not have nearly as fine control. There are about 1/3 as many sliders, which is good and bad. It’s good in terms of simplicity, but it is bad it terms of flexibility.
I find that there are so many different sorts of HDR shooting conditions. The more sliders you have to adjust one part of a photo for one condition and another for a different condition — the better. I’ve processed a bunch of images with both now, and I prefer Photomatix Pro. I get much more fine-grained control.
More importantly, I feel like I get more “pop” with the Photomatix Pro controls. It’s tough to explain… what do you think? What’s your experience with these tools so far?
The two above images are from Photomatix Pro 4.0 (left) and Photoshop Merge to HDR (right). Although it is probably hard to tell at this resolution, I believe the Photomatix Pro one has finer control. Both tools allow you to move the sliders around until you are happy with the image… so there is not really a one-to-one comparison possible here… Also, I did not show the new GUI for Photomatix Pro 4.0 at the request of the developer.
Better Ghosting Control
I remember when Merge to HDR Pro was announced that it had this cool feature for repairing ghosts. Ghosts are those nasty bits where part of an image is moving around in the various frames. A dog running across the bottom of the frame would be a good example.
Well, Photomatix Pro 1-ups Photoshop! It allows you to control various ghosts around the frame at the same time! Basically, there is an intermediate step where you can drag the mouse around one area and select a new single “source” image for that area, and then do it again for another section. For example, you may want to pick the dog from one exposure and the blowing tree from another. It’s great flexibility and very smart.
Noise Reduction for HDR
Photoshop did make some very nice changes with Noise Reduction, but that is part of the RAW import process. Since the Merge to HDR Pro option goes around that, you don’t get any of the good Noise Reduction for HDR images inside Photoshop.
Photomatix Pro 4.0 has a newer, more robust way to reduce noise. It even allows you to adjust the noise in the “input” images before they even begin the processing period. Smart.
The image there to the right was taken from a single RAW. As most of you HDR veterans know, noise at night is a big problem. The new Noise Reduction in Photomatix (which works even for a single RAW photo) really saved me a lot of time.
You can click on the image there to go see the full size on SmugMug. You’ll notice little white bits… they almost look like stars that I drew in, but they are falling sparkles from previous explosions
HDR Toning – Are you kidding me?
I was also intrigued by another little feature in Photoshop that all the videos were raving about. It is called “HDR Toning…” and it allows you to take your image inside Photoshop and give it an “HDR Look”. Cool, I thought! Well, I got in there to try it, and it told me that I had to Flatten the entire image first! That means, basically, that you have to take all of your layers and make them one. This is a deal-killer for me, since I like to have several layers open while I am working on an image.
Worse, it makes no sense! Most of the other Photoshop filters and controls work on a single layer without requiring the entire thing to be flattened. What’s up Adobe? You gotta fix that up… it’s sloppy.
The Final Photo – The Lake at Nikko
This place was Cold with a capital C, as you can plainly see.
And worse, I had forgotten my special little gloves with the flip-up fingertips. So I was goin’ finger-commando while trying to line up this shot. The wind was pretty stiff in my face. The wind always seems to be against you, eh? I think I just never notice it when it comes from any other angle.
By the way, there is only one place that is convenient to quickly warm up your fingers.
There is an older, historic part of Nikko that is about a 30 minute drive away. The drive is practically straight up a mountain, through a series of switchbacks. During the entire time up the mountain, I was surrounded by clouds. I thought it would be quite miserable at the top. But once I poked out, everything was free and clear. I was between cloud layers, exactly where this chilly lake sat at sunset.
HDR Photos for you made with a combination of Photomatix and Photoshop
It’s been a long two weeks but the wait is finally over, the new Aurora HDR 2017 for Macs is finally here and ready to download! I developed this software along with Macphun, an amazing company that has already created many other stunning photography tools for the Mac. The idea that after 10 years I finally got to create my own High Dynamic Range photography software and jam-pack it with all my favorite tricks was absolutely intoxicating!
I’ve been using this software now for a short eternity and we’ve taken my experience plus some great feedback from other users to create this new version. You can head over to our Aurora HDR 2017 Page see all the long list of new and improved features.
Note: Aurora HDR 2017 is still for Macs only. Yes, we truly are working on a Windows version (harder than it sounds) and when it’s released you will be the first to know!
Current Users of Aurora HDR Pro can upgrade for $49. Click here to find out if you qualify for an upgrade.
It is an hour long Video tutorial to show how I use Aurora HDR 2017 in practically every situation. From outdoors to indoors, mixes to architecture, moving objects to single photos, people photos and everything in between. You’ll see how I use the tool in slightly different ways for all these situations. As usual, I start out the tutorials very slowly, aimed at total beginners. But then we move on to intermediate and advanced techniques.
Trey’s Super Bundle
If you’re feeling a little adventurous you should check out the Super Bundle which includes both Aurora HDR 2017 AND my full-length HDR Video Tutorial for Macs all in one, for cheaper than it would be to buy them separately 🙂
At some magical point today, Aurora HDR 2017 will become available for Pre-Order! I’ve been working on this thing like crazy, and I can’t wait to get it in your hands. Below are two videos where I talk more about it. One is an overall preview and the next is a hot tip.
What do you get with the Pre-Order?
Pre-Order Bonus Items:
Trey Ratcliff Deep Dive video and RAW files
1 Year basic subscription to SmugMug
60-day KelbyOne membership
25 Square Prints from Parabo.press (free global shipping)
What’s the history and the deal with Aurora HDR 2017?
A few years ago, I called up MacPhun to see if they wanted to collaborate on the ultimate HDR program. They said yes, and we built the original one over a year ago. It went gangbusters and has over 650,000 downloads. Yes, it’s only Mac so far, but there is a Windows version in development. Anyway, we listened to all the feedback and ideas and made this new version. As usual, I’ve been testing it all along the way…
What are the updates?
There are over 20 updates, but here are the latest ones.
New Luminosity Masks controls
New Zone System allows selective masking of specific areas of an image; new controls provide extensive fine-tuning, allowing users to make brightness adjustments in more precise areas.
New tone-mapping engine
The improved algorithm is quicker, reduces noise, and handles tone, contrast and details in all areas of your photo for more realistic, sharp and natural tone-mapping results.
New batch processing
Automatically recognizes brackets, and adds support for sub-folders and Batch preset – the single most requested feature since the launch of Aurora HDR.
New Polarizing filter
Emulating the polarisation filter added to a lens, this feature gives colours more depth with a single swipe, and cuts haze – perfect for landscape photographers.
New powerful one-click presets
Including Signature Pro presets by Trey Ratcliff, Captain Kimo and Serge Ramelli, to yield fantastic results instantly.
New ways to work with Layers
Support of different Blend modes for Layers and Textures, with new options for Darken, Color Burn and Lighten.
New enhanced Top & Bottom Adjustment panel
Top and Bottom Adjustment includes new contrast, vibrance, and warmth sliders, adding an extra level of selective control.
Faster RAW processing & DNG support
Time-saving image processing, and improved DNG handling.
Introducing Aurora HDR 2017
Here’s a fun video I made that shows some of the new features.
Tip Video: Batch Processing
Here’s one of three new tip videos that illustrates the new Batch feature. To see all the videos and more, pop over to my Youtube Channel!
We’re still working to refine everything with the new map function on the site — please let me know if you have any feedback! 🙂
Daily Photo – Crossing the wooden bridge in Venice
There are three huge bridges that cross the grand canal in Venice, and this is one of the most famous views. I'm always impressed at these feats of engineering… I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during the original construction in the olden days. It occurs to me I don't even really have any idea how bridges are even built! I kind of have an idea, but I don't think I could actually build one, or, at least, not one I was willing to walk on myself.
Plotagraph Pro is now even more affordable. The team there have listened to your feedback and now you can subscribe to the software using various plans from free up to $49 a month with no minimum contract. For most people, the $19.99 plan will be more than enough but even if you choose the free option, you can enable the extra features for a day when needed for just $4.99! You can also cancel any time…not that you will, because it’s super awesome. Anyway, check out what you can do with the software below…
What is a Plotagraph?
It’s a moving photograph, kinda. I suppose that’s the best way to say it! Even better, it’s incredibly easy and fun! You can simply upload any photo you like and then use some really fun options to animate it. And no, it’s not a cinemagraph — all you need is a single JPG and no additional image or video files.
That photo above is from Burning Man. It was made from a still photo that I shot during one of the burn nights. You can immediately see the amazing potential for this Plotagraph tool. The situations in which you can use these truly organic animations are limitless.
This is a great way to breathe new life into any photo you’ve ever taken. It works great in so many conditions… clouds, moving water, grasses, hair, flowers, water, fire, etc. When you look at the new portfolio above, you’ll see how fun it is. Note that because these are all multi-framed, it may take a moment or two for the whole thing to load before you see it flow smoothly.
Works on any computer/OS
It’s completely web-based software, so it doesn’t matter if you are Mac / Windows / Linux, whatever. It’s also extremely fast because everything is happening on remote blazing servers.
How does it work?
You upload any photo then you use the online software to define the areas that you want to keep static and the parts you want to move. After that, you use cool directional arrows to describe where and how you want the motion to flow. There’s also options to set the speed, smoothness, and more. You can get a live preview in the web browser and then export it as an GIF, MOV, or MP4. Easy as pie and supa fun!
Easy to use
This is a good example of a JPG I uploaded. You can see how I masked out most of the tree and ground and added animation vectors to the sky. This one is very simple in that I have everything going in the same direction. As you can imagine, you don’t always have to make it this simple and you can have animations go in many directions and different speeds in various bits of the picture.
Here’s a bit more complex of an example with many vectors. This one may look a bit more complex because I turned on the “Mesh” layer that shows all the triangles and interconnectedness. I’m working on some tutorials now to talk more about how it works!
For now, here’s a handful more that I have made. If you think this kind of thing is cool, share with your family and friends!
Here’s one of my favorite photos from Paris, brought to a new kind of animated life!
This is a fun one from Mount Cook here in New Zealand. One of the smoothest things about this program is how you can barely see the animation “looping”. I don’t know about you, but I just kind of stare at it, mesmerized.
To see more, check out my Plotagraph Portfolio. Remember, it takes a moment to load the whole flow based on the speed of your internet connection!
Q: How do you get the file on Facebook?
A: It’s SUPER SIMPLE. In the Plotagraph software just export an MP4 file. I suggest sticking to 1920 or 1280 for the width. File type will be MP4, framerate 25 and duration 14s. Once you’ve downloaded the file, create a Facebook post just as normal and click the option to add a photo/video. Select your Plotagraph and post. Done!
Q: How do you get the Plotagraph on Instagram?
You have to take the video and get it on your mobile device where you have Instagram. Inside Plotagraph Pro export an MP4 with a duration of 14s and width of 1280. Then, I download that and use Airplay to get the video to my iPad and then upload that with Instagram.
Q: How do you get the MP4 on Twitter?
Oh that’s an easy one. You can upload the MP4 right to Twitter like a JPG… no issues!
Q: Any other Social Media sharing tips?
Yes! Funny you should ask!
1) Pinterest has silly small file size limits so don’t be afraid to export at something like 10fps and a shorter duration.
2) G+ likes GIF’s over MP4.
2b) How do you say “GIF” out loud when talking to other humans? Hard G. The G in GIF is short for Graphics, which is a hard G, unlike, say, Giraffe or Gacking off to webcam jirls.
3) Hashtag #Plotagraph to help other plotagraphers discover you!
4) When I post WordPress here at StuckInCustoms.com, I upload a GIF that us under 15MB right into WP. I’ve found that hosting the GIF other places doesn’t really work.