mobile photography technology, culture and community
www.dpreview.com

App tutorial: Give portraits depth with HDR feel

41
Mobile photographer Dave Temple, @kewiki, creates dramatic portraits by combining images for an HDR look.

Dave Temple, @kewiki, achieves his own HDR-style portraits using two apps: Filterstorm and Pro HDR. But he first captures the image using the native camera app on his iPhone 4. 

"HDR photography, when done right, is one of my favorite forms of photography," Temple says. "The results you get can be amazing. The problem with HDR photography is that it requires you to take at least two shots at different exposures and then software will line the shots up and allow for further editing. This works great when your subject is an inanimate object with hard lines. People or moving objects are really hard to work with. But, with a few tricks, you can take pretty much any photo and turn it into an HDR shot."

Temple recently showed us how he takes a single portrait image and creates an HDR effect using the following steps: 

Step 1

Capture your portrait using the native camera app. Make sure any HDR settings are turned off. (Of course, another non-HDR app could be used when taking the image, and this tutorial can work for non-iOS platform users too, just use an app similar to Filterstorm and Pro HDR, which is also available as Pro HDR Camera for Android.)

Temple's original portrait photo, taken with his iPhone 4.

Step 2

Prepare two images with different exposures, one dark and one light, using Filterstorm, or a similar app.

Use curves to create a lightened version of the image ...
... as well as a darker version.

Open the image in Filterstorm and go to the curves setting. Adjust the curves up for the lighter shot. Hit “Apply” and save to your camera roll.

Now, undo the current settings and reopen the curves tool. This time, create the darker image by dragging the curves down. Tap “Apply” and save to your camera roll again.

Step 3 

Open the Pro HDR, or similar, app. 

The first screen gives you three options; select “Library HDR” and follow the onscreen instructions. You'll be prompted to select the darker image first and then the lighter image second. Once the two images have merged, you will be able to adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, warmth and tint to achieve the look you want. Tap the Save button when you're done.

Temple used these adjustment settings on this image, but encourages experimenting to find the look you want.

Step 4

Open the saved image in Filterstorm. For the image in this tutorial, Temple made further adjustments to color and contrast and sharpened the image to highlight the wrinkles in his subject's face and the textures in the hat. 


Dave Temple is a member of Juxt. You can read more from him on the Juxt website.

Comments

Total comments: 41
Jono Broadbent
By Jono Broadbent (Feb 15, 2013)

Reading most of these comments gives me hope to not give up my career just yet, as so many of the commenters seem concerned with histograms, 'blown areas', 'banding areas', drone drone drone....and use these technical details to bludgeon all life from the idea of the photo.

For me the finished portrait has a wonderful mood to it, I care only slightly more than I care about pixels and HDR, about how it was achieved. The dark eyes give a more broody feel, and, perhaps counterintuitively, draw me in, looking for a glimmer. I like it.

Look, here's the thing; a photograph is what it is, it's not real, it's a representation of what is real, and as such the the creator has a right to do whatever they want however they want to have a photograph mean this or that. You diminish yourself with your rude comments around an images' perceived technical flaws and/or the creator's perceived lack of technical ability.

So as I said, you give me hope, carry on!

Jonathan

2 upvotes
TheBronx2013
By TheBronx2013 (Feb 12, 2013)

@kewiki , you have images on your Instagram that are actually worth looking at, why on earth would you exhibit this to us?

1 upvote
TheBronx2013
By TheBronx2013 (Feb 12, 2013)

Absolutely horrendous, you should be ashamed of yourself for encouraging people to do this.

4 upvotes
Irata
By Irata (Feb 13, 2013)

Who do you mean? The photographer? Or dpreview?
Dpreview used to publish quality articles... seems like those days have gone.

Comment edited 8 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
disasterpiece
By disasterpiece (Feb 11, 2013)

I don't see anything from the guy's eyes.

Comment edited 34 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Feb 11, 2013)

Haven't seen such a Low Dynamic Range LDR since the very first Xerox copying machines. What were you thinking letting this Apple tutorial out? Sabotage?

7 upvotes
Kabe Luna
By Kabe Luna (Feb 11, 2013)

Ha! "HDR" is an acronym for "High Dynamic Range," which is actually what you started with (well, relative to the end result). What you've ended up with here is, more accurately, "LDR."

Also, blocked shadows, blown highlights and loss of significant subject detail–not to mention poor composition–do not "depth" make. Adding depth would ostensibly involve revealing more detail at the extremes of the tonal range, not less.

Purely as a portrait, blocking the shadows so that the environment is lost, while also losing the subjects eyes in the dense black pools under his brow, weakens the image greatly. Unless, that is, the subject is the texture of his skin, which you have amplified prodigiously.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Wayne Pilling
By Wayne Pilling (Feb 11, 2013)

It has improved the original, but those skin highlights are still burnt out.

0 upvotes
Irata
By Irata (Feb 13, 2013)

In the original, there's actually more highlight definition than in the processed image. (Yes, OK, it's banding from yellow to orange/red... but in the processed image those areas are ALL white).

0 upvotes
jase
By jase (Feb 11, 2013)

Sorry but I just think the end result is exceptionally poor and a better job could have been done with 5 minutes in Snapseed. It just looks underexposed and the guy is left with shadows instead of eyes.

9 upvotes
ConanFuji
By ConanFuji (Feb 11, 2013)

Couldn't agree with you more

3 upvotes
7ape
By 7ape (Feb 11, 2013)

This!

0 upvotes
TheBronx2013
By TheBronx2013 (Feb 12, 2013)

"Exceptionally poor" well said

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Feb 10, 2013)

Wft? HDR? And the nose is all blown away. After that, this picture is like the song called Seven shades of grey,

3 upvotes
Lubyanka
By Lubyanka (Feb 10, 2013)

So simple, yet so wonderfully useful! This has helped me find new ways to use my iPad photo apps. Thank you so much for introducing me to these iOS photo tools. :)

0 upvotes
TheBronx2013
By TheBronx2013 (Feb 12, 2013)

If by useful, you mean awful, and if u meant to put a 'not' before 'to use my ipad photo apps', and you meant to put 'novice' before 'iOS photo tools', than I couldn't agree with you more, you just have to pay more attention to your auto-correct before pressing 'post'.

2 upvotes
PhotoMT2013
By PhotoMT2013 (Feb 10, 2013)

Remember the amber filter in the early 90's, or the purposely under exposed look in the late 90's? What about cross processing way back in the 80's, How about when photography moved from crisp exact lines to a soft romantic fuzzy look in it's very early days. All these are, have been and will always be experimental techniques(or artistic crutches) to make un-iteresting, poorly lit(intentional or unavoidable), difficult to compose, insecure art ditrectors/clients or your own short comings as a photographer content that you are doing what's in the moment. I've seen this movement so many times it never concerns me anymore( I never ever used the amber filter though!). Stay true to your style because in the end even if you use one of these things your style will always be in the image. Unless the guy with the iphone can make a living at it time and time again he'll just be a footnote (well maybe a post in a blog these days) in a long line of tried/ tired photographic cliches.

5 upvotes
Starkiller
By Starkiller (Feb 10, 2013)

The final image looks like a GIF with just 256 colors.

2 upvotes
SergioSpain
By SergioSpain (Feb 10, 2013)

Reading some of the comments on here reminds me of one of my favorite sayings about everyone having two things, opinions and... oh, what's that other thing?? some kind of hole...

0 upvotes
MobilePix
By MobilePix (Feb 9, 2013)

I think the commenters on this site missed the fact that this was shot on an iPhone and not a DSLR or other professional gear. Obviously a mobile device doesn't have the same dynamic quality and clarity as a DSLR. I think this tutorial does a really good job at explaining how to take portrait photography with a mobile device that doesn't shoot in RAW format. For those that do take photos with their mobile devices only, this tutorial is very helpful.

As a side note, I'm surprised at all of the negative comments. I suggest that these commenters read the entire article for context instead of just being rude.

1 upvote
incoherent1
By incoherent1 (Feb 9, 2013)

It surpasses FlorescentElvisonblackvelvet; and definitively removes any shred of credibility from any photographer using it.

4 upvotes
MobilePix
By MobilePix (Feb 9, 2013)

I think it's wrong to question a photographer's credibility just because you don't like their style. Try being constructive next time.

3 upvotes
morepix
By morepix (Feb 9, 2013)

What does that mean? Saying coo, coo, great shot? I see a lot of that on DPReview forums, and it's not constructive. "Consructive" means helping to construct, to build on, to grow on. Empty praise doesn't do that.

And in what way is it questioning his credibility? It's offering him something to build on, to construct on. Empty praise doesn't do that.

0 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Feb 10, 2013)

I try to be constructive, and tell who ever took this photo go back and try again. Just try and try, never give up, maybe one day it will turn out a bit little better. Good luck!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
TheBronx2013
By TheBronx2013 (Feb 12, 2013)

@mobilepix , nobody missed the point dude, this photo is terrible, on every level, that's it. It's irresponsible to promote this type of garbage.

3 upvotes
morepix
By morepix (Feb 8, 2013)

One problem is that the dark exposure you did was insufficient to recover the problem areas. It would have worked out better if you had by some other means got rid of the blown areas on forehead, nose, and cheeks before doing the rest of the processing. Given that you can't have a raw image to start with, one way to recover the blown areas in computer-based processing is to paint a light tint into them.

If the bright areas had not been specular white, it could have worked out.

1 upvote
villebon
By villebon (Feb 8, 2013)

Wow.! Blown highlights and an unsharp image probably due to poor focusing. No wonder you need HDR to rescue it.

The delete key is your friend. Use it.

6 upvotes
remylebeau
By remylebeau (Feb 9, 2013)

Seriously, this tutorial is horribly mis-titled. You can't give depth by playing with curves, it has to be captured in the initial image. A black shadow is a black shadow and blown highlights are blown, period.
This example especially talking about more depth, there was way more tonal and dynamic range in the original image. The new one looks like it was shot on 3200 ASA Illford film, them smudged with ink.

2 upvotes
CollBaxter
By CollBaxter (Feb 8, 2013)

Ieeeesh this looks like 4 steps form looking normal to homeless.

0 upvotes
Kewiki
By Kewiki (Feb 8, 2013)

Thanks! Actually he was a homeless guy and I asked his permission to take this photo. I did pay him for it. :-)

1 upvote
CollBaxter
By CollBaxter (Feb 8, 2013)

OK now he looks more homeless and a bit poked. :)

P.S. Nice that you got his permission. These type of pictures are normally sneaked.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Rich42
By Rich42 (Feb 8, 2013)

Awful. If you want portraits to have "depth" you should learn the basics of lighting, exposure, composition and at least how to hold a camera steady. The HDR fad to give "character" to images has been one of the ugliest, no-talent manipulations to ever come along. Granted this is only a cell phone camera, but the image is just terrible. Forget HDR nonsense. Learn some photography basics.

Comment edited 54 seconds after posting
6 upvotes
MobilePix
By MobilePix (Feb 9, 2013)

Rich42 - if you haven't done a lot of mobile photography then you wouldn't understand. Sometimes you don't have the luxury to set up a perfect shot with perfect lighting. Sometimes you only get one shot and have to do the best with what you get. I'm sure this photographer knows proper lighting and I think he did a good job at making the picture better than the original.

1 upvote
james laubscher
By james laubscher (Feb 10, 2013)

mobile camera sensors are like old comapct camera sensors of 5 years ago - they lack dynamic range and maybe sharpness from the lens as well.

The tricks shown in this article are a good way to cover up the limitations in the original image. Turning one image into two with different levels of exposure and then recombining doesn't do a better job that simply doing a complex curve adjustment with the original image in the first place. Obviously no additional information is created by creating two images formed from one image so one may as werll learn to work with the single original image in the first place and stop fooling yourself.

1 upvote
Rich42
By Rich42 (Feb 10, 2013)

@MobilPix

I have plenty of experience with "mobile" photography. But I have decades of experience with real photography. The image presented here is awful. Period. For all the reasons I mentioned. The manipulations in this non-tutorial don't improve anything about the image. Garbage in, garbage out. But my main point is that the false artsy grunge look of this technique is just about worthless in any case. It's Instagram on steroids. "Look I are a photographer, and I don't need no talent at all. I just run any pic through my magical filter method! Ain't I great?!"

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Irata
By Irata (Feb 11, 2013)

"HDR photography, when done right, is one of my favorite forms of photography," Temple says.

Well... seems very much like he DOESN'T do it right. How good is a portrait when I can't distinguish between eyes and surrounding skin, let alone SEE the eyes?

2 upvotes
bobestremera
By bobestremera (Feb 12, 2013)

Sorry but that just looks like crap.

3 upvotes
TheBronx2013
By TheBronx2013 (Feb 12, 2013)

Absolutely shameful bastardization of the photographic medium

3 upvotes
Ric54
By Ric54 (Feb 12, 2013)

Although I find the photo interesting; perhaps for the purpose of exploring the extremes of HDR, the comments above regardless how rude or crude, are far more useful to me than the given technique. I recently paid a well known wedding photographer $5,000 to destroy decent photos using this application but my daughter, a Master's in Art, loved it. God forbid if I had done it, I would have been told "Just leave the photos alone to stand for themselves Dad!"

So, Kewiki, you owe us this. What makes this a "Portrait" from a photographer's view or a piece of art from an artist's view? Personally, but not to be cruel, I think you'd wet yourself if you ever discovered the power of Photoshop.

0 upvotes
Jo Lovell
By Jo Lovell (Feb 15, 2013)

This is terrible. It was already overexposed, you can see the blown red channel in the histogram. Then the finla result has massively blocked in shaddows. Not HDR whatsoever. If it had been titled 'How to make a generic looking instagram style portrait' it would have been fine. Even then, the shot itself has no redeeming portrait features - nothing can be inferred about the subject whatsoever.

0 upvotes
premmuthu
By premmuthu (Feb 28, 2013)

you have sharpened the wrinkles, the texture of the hat etc but unfortunately you darkened the face so much that we can't see the eyes anymore unlike the original image.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 41
About us
Sitemap
Connect