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HDR Efex Pro 2 Tour

Image Selection Dialog

 

The Image Selection dialog is available in Photoshop and makes it possible to select the images to merge together into an HDR image. You can access this dialog either through the File > Automate > Merge to HDR Efex Pro 2… option or through the Nik Selective Tool. If using Lightroom or Aperture, you will not see this dialog page; simply select all photos to merge in Lightroom or Aperture.

1 Source Files List
The files to be merged are displayed in this area. When using the Open button, file names will be displayed after being selected in a file browser. When working with Photoshop, open image files are only displayed after being selected with the Add open files button. When working with Bridge, the images selected in Bridge will automatically be added to this list.

2 Open Button
Clicking on this button will open a file browser to select images to be merged.

3 Remove Button
Clicking on this button will remove the highlighted image(s) from the File List.

4 Add Open Files Button
Clicking on this button will open all of the images currently open inside of Photoshop, and will add them to the Source Files list.

5 Create Smart Object Checkbox (Requires Photoshop CS4 or later)

Checking this box will enable HDR Efex Pro 2 to run as a Smart Object. When HDR Efex Pro 2 is applied as a Smart Object, the image stays in 32-bit per channel and settings and adjustments can be modified at a later time, even after the image has been saved and closed.


Note: After applying HDR Efex Pro 2 as a Smart Object, the image remains in the 32-bit per channel color mode. This ensures that the full range of detail is retained and makes it possible to adjust the tone mapping settings without any loss of color or tonal detail. It is important to note that 32-bit per channel images can only be saved in certain file formats. In order to save the image into popular image formats such as a JPEG or TIFF file, the image must be converted into either the 8- or 16-bit per channel mode. Once the image is converted, the image will no longer be a Smart Object. If it is desired to maintain the ability to modify the image further, it is recommended to save a 32-bit version of the image as a Smart Object prior to converting to 8- or 16-bit.

To convert to 8- or 16-bit, navigate to the Image > Mode menu and select either the 8 or 16 bits/channel options. Click OK to accept the warning and then click on the Merge button. Next, the Photoshop HDR Toning dialog will show up. In order to prevent tone mapping the image a second time, make sure to select the Exposure and Gamma option from the Method drop down menu. Click OK to complete the conversion to 16-bit.


6 Cancel
Click Cancel to close HDR Efex Pro 2 without processing your photo or photo series.

7 Merge Dialog
After selecting the photos to merge, click this button to proceed with creating the HDR image.

 

Merge Dialog

 

 

The Merge dialog is displayed when first opening a series of images into HDR Efex Pro 2. You can also access the Merge dialog by clicking on the Merge Settings button found at the top of the History Browser.

1 Warning Dialog
For multi-shot series, a number of checks are performed in order to identify issues that would otherwise result in inferior image quality. If an issue arises, a warning icon is shown in this area as well as on thumbnail images. The issue will be explained in this area; however, if there are multiple issues for the loaded images, only the most problematic will be explained here. To determine all of the issues, hover over the warning signs located on the thumbnail images, and tooltips will appear explaining what is occurring.

2 Alignment Checkbox
Shooting HDR images without a tripod can introduce movement between each shot in the series. Without taking any steps to address this movement, the resulting image can have strange artifacts in which objects may appear twice or more in the image, or have strange edges around each object.

The alignment algorithms in HDR Efex Pro 2 work to align each image so that the resulting merged HDR image does not have any alignment artifacts. Check the Alignment checkbox to turn on the alignment algorithms and reduce any potential alignment artifacts.

After aligning the images, HDR Efex Pro 2 will automatically crop the image to remove areas with only partial image information. It is normal for an image that requires alignment to be slightly smaller than any one individual image from the series.

After checking the box, the image will be updated in the interface.

3 Ghost Reduction Checkbox
Ghost artifacts are unwanted image details that are created by objects moving between each exposure in the image series and are a tell-tale sign of an HDR image. When merged together, the moving objects may be semi-transparent or may be only partially formed.

To remove ghost artifacts, HDR Efex Pro 2 has a powerful ghost reduction algorithm that analyzes the images in the series and removes the movement. With the available tools, you can determine which position to show that moving object, based on the different images found in the image series. Check the Ghost Reduction checkbox to turn on the ghost reduction algorithms in HDR Efex Pro 2.

4 Ghost Reference Image
Once you’ve checked the checkbox for Ghost Reduction, a Ghost Reference Image selector will appear over one of the images in the Filmstrip at the top of the Merge dialog. The Ghost Reference Image will only become active after you have turned on Ghost Reduction. The image selected in Ghost Reference Image selector will act as the basis for the ghost reduction algorithm, with the goal of making all of the moving objects appear as they did within the reference image. The ghost reduction algorithms will try to make the objects that were moving in the series appear in the same position as in the Ghost Reference Image.

If you experience any unwanted artifacts, experiment with different Ghost Reference Images at different Strength settings. As a general rule, it is best to select middle exposures as your Ghost Reference Image, as they will have sufficient image detail to act as a foundation for the ghost reduction.

5 Strength
Use the Strength control to adjust the ghost reduction effect further. The default strength of 100% is recommended for most image series. If ghost artifacts are still present in your image, try selecting another image using the Ghost Reference selector by either clicking on the target image or by clicking and dragging the Ghost Reference selector and moving it onto the appropriate image.

After you have selected another image, review the result in the interface or using the Loupe tool (see a). Often, changing the reference image is all you need to remove any ghost artifacts.

By reducing the strength, you can blend the original image with the image created by the ghost reduction algorithm. Reducing the strength can be helpful in case you notice any unwanted image details created by the ghost reduction algorithm.

6 Chromatic Aberration
Checking this box enables the removal of chromatic aberrations from the image. Chromatic aberrations are most often visible as colorful fringes around objects in your images, especially around well defined high contrast edges.

7 Chromatic Aberration Sliders
The Red-Cyan and Blue-Yellow sliders enable you to remove any chromatic aberrations from the image series. In order to best see the chromatic aberrations, open the Loupe tool and ensure that the Chromatic Aberration option (see b) is selected at the top of the Loupe. Adjust the position of the Loupe until you can best review the chromatic aberrations in your image. Chromatic aberrations are easiest to see at the corners of the image, especially with high contrast edges, such as tree branches on top of a blue sky. Each slider will attempt to remove the most common types of chromatic aberrations: green or magenta chromatic aberrations, or blue or red chromatic aberrations. Move each slider until the color fringes are no longer visible.

8 Loupe Tool
To open the Loupe tool, click on the magnifying glass button. There are two display modes for the Loupe tool: Ghost Reduction and Chromatic Aberration. To move the Loupe tool, click and drag on the loupe to position it over different parts of your image. The Loupe tool can be closed by clicking on the magnifying glass button again.

a Ghost Reduction
In this view, the loupe will show the merged HDR version of your image with ghost reduction applied, enabling you to see the ghost reduction effect in a zoomed in state. This can help you determine if the ghost artifacts were properly removed.

b Chromatic Aberration
This view will show a non-HDR version of your image zoomed in to 100% in order to best display the chromatic aberrations in your image.

9 Preview Brightness slider
This slider affects the 32-bit preview only and can be used to adjust the preview image in order to properly see and remove all Ghost artifacts. Moving the slider to the right will brighten the preview, and moving the slider to the left will darken the preview. Moving the brightness slider in the Image Merge Dialog will not change the final merged image.

 

Interface Controls

 

 

1 View Modes

Single Image View: In this view, the image is displayed with the analog effect applied across the Image Preview area.
Split View: The image is displayed with a red line running either vertically or horizontally through it, with the original on one side and the edits on the other.
Side-by-side View: In this view, two separate previews appear. The previews are linked for zooming and panning. This lets you see the before- and after-images as a whole, or at the fine detail level.

 

2 Compare
The Compare button lets you toggle on and off a preview of the image state selected by the History State selector found in the History Browser and your edited image. Press and release this button to toggle between the two states.

The Compare button is only available in the Single Image View mode.

3 Zoom Tool
The Zoom tool enables you to zoom into your photo. Clicking on the Zoom tool will immediately zoom into the zoom value selected (100% by default). After zooming into your photo, the Navigator will be displayed which enables you to click and pan on a bird’s eye view of your photo.

4 Background Selector Tool
The Background Selector tool lets you change the color of the background surrounding the image. The three choices are white, gray, and black.

5 Palette Display Tool
The Palette Display tool lets you toggle the control palettes on and off in the interface. Turning off the control palettes provides an uncluttered working space to review your images.

 

Preset Controls

 

1 Preset Library
The Preset Library is a collection of available styles for HDR Efex Pro 2, with thumbnails showing each style’s effect on the active image. The presets provide a fast way to both learn and use HDR Efex Pro 2, as well as provide a starting point to create custom presets that enable you to apply your own unique look to any image with a single click.

2 Preset Categories
The Preset Categories enable you to filter the provided presets. Clicking on a category will show only those presets that are found within that category. Click on the All category to show all presets again.

3 Favorite Selector
Clicking on the star next to a preset allows you to select it as a favorite preset. Favorite Presets will appear within the Favorites Preset Category. To deselect a preset as a favorite, click on its star again.

 

4 Custom Preset Library
This preset library will store all of your saved presets, allowing you to separate the included presets from the presets made for your own workflow.

5 Add a Preset
Click this button to save the current edits as a custom preset. After naming the preset, the thumbnail will be added to the library for later use.

6 Delete Preset
Roll over a preset to display this button. Clicking this button will remove the preset from the Custom Preset Library. This control is only available for imported/custom presets.

7 Export Preset
Roll over a preset to display this button. Clicking this button will export the single preset to a file that can be backed up and shared. This control is only available for imported/custom presets.

8 Update Preset
Roll over a preset to display this button. Clicking on this button will update the preset to match.

9 Export All
Click this button to save all of the current presets to the specified folder. The preset files can then be backed up or shared.

10 Imported Preset Library
This preset library lists the presets that you import from another computer, or download from the internet. Presets can be shared among any HDR Efex Pro 2 users.

11 Import a Preset
After clicking this button, a File dialog box will open. Navigate to the location of the presets you would like to download, highlight all of the presets to import, and click the Open button. The selected presets will now be in your imported library, and show a thumbnail preview of the applied effect.

 

History Browser

 

1 Show History Browser
Clicking on this button will open the History Browser enabling access to the available history states.

2 Merge Settings Button
Click on this button to open the Merge Dialog window.

3 Previously Applied Enhancements
Once the History Browser is displayed, a list of all applied enhancements will be listed. Clicking on a state will immediately revert the image back to that state. You may then either click on another state to revert the image again, or adjust the image controls. Adjusting the image controls after reverting back to a previous state will permanently erase any subsequent steps.

4 History State Selector
Clicking and dragging the History State selector (available while in the split and side-by-side views) will set the before value for the Compare button, split view, and side-by-side view. Dragging the History State selector to the Original Image state will allow you to compare the current black and white image to the original color image.

5 Last Filtered State
Click on this button to apply the exact adjustment used on your last image processed inside HDR Efex Pro 2.

 

Tone Compression

 

1 Reset
Clicking on this arrow will reset all settings within the Tone Compression section.

2 Tone Compression
Increases or decreases the Dynamic Range of the image. This is the main HDR effect, allowing bright scenes to be compressed leaving a full range of tonality and color. Moving this slider to the right compresses the tonality of the image, lightening dark values and darkening bright values.

3 Method Strength
Controls the amount of Depth, Drama, and Detail that is applied to an image. This allows you specific fine tuning over the style of tone mapping algorithms that are applied to your image. For even more fine tuning adjustments, this is also a slider within the Control Points, for localized adjustment of the range.

4 Depth
A unique tool developed specifically for HDR Efex Pro 2, the Depth control helps create a sense of depth or dimensionality in your HDR photos. As HDR tone mapping can often render images flat and lacking in the visual cues of a three dimensional image, the Depth slider can add some of that dimensionality back into the image to create a more natural looking photograph.

5 Detail
The Detail control adjusts the tone mapping algorithms within HDR Efex Pro 2 to provide more control over the way fine details are rendered. Since fine details are affected most, zoom into 100% to determine the appropriate option.

6 Drama
Adjusts the style of the tone mapping effect by using the unique Drama algorithm. The Drama algorithm identifies different areas of an image based on tonality and colors, working to accentuate contrast in those areas. Moving this slider to the right alters the style from more natural results to more creative and stylistic results.

 

Tonality

 

The Tonality section contains the basic image editing sliders. When adjusting the global sliders, the effect will be applied to the entire image.

1 Reset
Clicking on this arrow will reset all settings within the Tonality section.

2 Exposure
Changes the Exposure Value of the image. Moving this slider to the left darkens the image while moving to the right increases the brightness of the image.

3 Shadows
The Shadows slider adjusts the exposure within the shadows of the image. Moving the Shadows slider to the left will darken the shadows. Moving this slider to the right will brighten those parts of the image.

4 Highlights
The Highlights slider adjusts the exposure within the shadows of the image. Moving the Highlights slider to the left will darken the highlights. Moving this slider to the right will brighten those parts of the image.

5 Contrast
Changes the overall contrast in the image. Moving this slider to the left flattens out the tonal information in the image, while moving to the right separates the tonal information in the image.

6 Blacks
The Blacks slider adjusts the black point. This control is similar to the sliders at the end of a Levels tool. Unlike the black point control in a Levels tool, the Blacks slider can be moved in either direction, enabling you to both brighten and darken the black point in the image, with the added ability to recover detail in the dark areas. Unlike the Shadows slider, the Blacks slider does not adjust the overall tonality, rather it primarily affects only the darkest tones.

7 Whites
The Whites slider adjusts the white point. This control is similar to the sliders at the end of a Levels tool. Unlike the white point control in a Levels tool, the Whites slider can be moved in either direction, enabling you to both brighten and darken the white point in the image, with the added ability to recover detail in the white areas. Unlike the Highlights slider, the Whites slider does not adjust the overall tonality, rather it primarily affects only the lightest tones.

8 Structure
Controls the overall structure of the image. Increasing this slider emphasizes fine details while decreasing this slider reduces the appearance of fine details for smoother surfaces.

 

Color

 

1 Reset
Clicking on this arrow will reset all settings within the Color section.

2 Saturation
Controls the overall saturation or intensity of color in the image.

3 Temperature
This slider adjust the color balance in which the image was shot. The Temperature slider controls the blue to orange shift. Use the temperature and tint sliders in conjunction to control the white balance of the image.

4 Tint
This slider adjust the color balance in which the image was shot. The Tint slider controls the green to magenta shift. Use the temperature and tint sliders in conjunction to control the white balance of the image.

 

Selective Adjustments

 

 

The Selective Adjustments enables editing only certain portions of the image. Add a control point and when adjusting the corresponding sliders, it will affect only those objects or areas selected by the control point.

1 On/Off Toggle
Clicking on this checkbox will turn on/off the Selective Adjustments.

2 Reset
Clicking on this arrow will reset all settings within the Selective Adjustments.

3 Control Point
Click this button to add a control point. The mouse button changes indicating that you can place a control point on the image. After placing the control point on the image you may control the image’s light, contrast, and detail selectively using the controls provided. Learn more about adjusting the control point by clicking below.

4 Control Point Section Twirler
Click on the Control Point Section twirler to display the controls available for control points.

5 Show Effect Preview
After adding a control point to the image, the checkbox within the Show Effect Preview Column will be enabled. By un-checking this box, you can disable that control point’s effect on the image. Click on the Show Effect Preview Column header to show or hide all control points' effects.

6 Size Column
The Size Column will display the value of each control point’s Size slider.

7 Show Selection Column
The Show Selection Column enables you to show the selection of a control point. Checking the box next to a control point in the Show Selection Column will show only the selected control point’s selection. The control point is affecting areas inked in white, while areas inked in black are not being affected, with gray areas being partially affected. Click on the Show Selection Column header to show or hide the selection of all control points.

8 Group Button
Click on this button after selecting more than one control point to place the selected control points into a group. All control points that are added into a group will obtain the same enhancement slider settings. Groups act in a similar fashion to control points, except where a control point bases its selection off of a single color and tonal value, groups can use multiple values to create a more precise selection. A group of control points share a single set of enhancement sliders and apply the same enhancement effect to their selected objects.

After adding control points into a group, the icon for the control points will change, with the enhancement sliders being presented only on one control point. The size slider for each control point in a group however can be adjusted independently.

9 Ungroup Button
To remove all control points from a group, select the group and then press the Ungroup button. All control points will be displayed as ungrouped, allowing you to delete, modify, or create new groups from the individual control points.

10 Duplicate Button
Clicking on the Duplicate button will duplicate the currently selected control point(s).

11 Delete Button
Clicking on the Delete button will delete the currently selected control point(s).

 

Finishing

 

1 On/Off Toggle
Clicking on this checkbox will turn on/off the Selective Adjustments.

2 Reset
Clicking on this arrow will reset all settings within the Selective Adjustments.

3 Vignette Twirler
Clicking on the Vignette twirler displays the vignette controls.

4 Vignette Preset
Selecting one of the options from the Vignette preset drop down menu applies a pre-defined vignette effect to the image.

5 Last Filtered State
Click on this button to apply the exact adjustment used on your last image processed inside HDR Efex Pro 2.

6 Amount
Controls the strength of the vignette. Moving this slider to the left adds a darkening vignette to the borders of the image while moving this slider to the right adds a brightening vignette.

7 Shape
Controls the overall shape of the vignette between circular and rectangular.

8 Size
Adjusts the area of the image covered by the vignette.

9 Graduated Neutral Density Twirler
Clicking on the Graduated Neutral Density twirler displays the graduated neutral density controls.

10 Upper Tonality
Adjusts the brightness of the top half of the image.

11 Lower Tonality
Adjusts the brightness of the lower half of the image.

12 Blend
Adjusts the strength of the gradation between the upper and lower parts of the image.

13 Vertical Shift
Moves the center of the area of adjustments vertically. Moving the slider to the left lowers the center transition, while moving the slider to the right raises the center transition.

14 Rotation
Changes the rotational angle of the upper and lower tonalities.

 

15 Levels & Curves Twirler
Clicking on the Levels & Curves details twirler displays the manual controls for the levels and curves finishing adjustment.

16 Levels and Curves Preset
Selecting one of the options from the drop down menu applies a pre-defined levels and curves adjustment to the image.

17 Channel Selector
Provides access to the different color channels of the image. Selecting each different channel provides access to curve specific for that channel, providing control over the relationship of the colors in the image.

18 Levels and Curves Dialog
Click to add anchor points to the curve to specify the brightness, contrast, and relationship of tonal values in the image. Levels adjustments are located at the bottom of the curve area, providing control over the tonality of the shadows, midtones, and highlights. To reset an anchor point, double-click on the point you want to remove.

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