How to Make Fake HDR Images With Adobe Photoshop
With every HDR quality image, you will find incredibly heavy and stylized shadows present. This is something that makes a very dramatic feel inside the photo and is something that is desired by many people. The sad fact of it all is that many of us are not able to afford the correct equipment in order to take these beautiful photographs. This isn’t something to worry about though as you can use image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop to create the same look and feel that is present in all HDR photographs.
To begin you will want to find a proper image in order to start the editing process. Your image should have a good amount of detail as anything blurry or lacking definition will not take well for this editing process. Before fully getting started to save a copy of your image for a backup in case things go wrong during the editing process. The first step to the editing process is by switching the color mode of the image to Lab Color by going to the Image Menu > Mode > Lab Color. What you will do next is go to the Channels Panel and select the Lightness channel. Doing this will have completely changed your photo into greyscale. If you don’t have a channels panel you can find it by going to the Window Menu > Channels.
With the Lightness Channel still highlighted you are going to go to the Filters Menu > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. You will be prompted with a dialogue box that will have a few sliders. To start you can make the settings at or around this: Amount – 199%, Radius – 4.2 pixels, and a Threshold of 8 Levels. This may be too drastic for your image so it is best to play around and find the setting that works best for your image. Once you have completed this your Lightness Channel is transformed. One of the benefits of using Lab Color instead of the standard RGB is that your shadows are the only things transformed. Your colors will stay untouched and uncorrupted by the filter you are creating.
Now that you have completed this you will want to change back to RGB Color by going to the Image Menu > Mode > RGB Color. This will make your image reappear in color. Now that it is back in color you will want to create a Levels Adjustment Layer by using the Adjustment panel. This process will be entirely up to you as each photo is different and requires different fine tuning.
If you are happy with your image you are now able to stop editing it as the process is complete. However, there is one extra step you can add in to make your image pop that much further. You can add a Levels Adjustment Layer that brings your image a harsh white or blue lit effect which may suit your image well.
In order to do this, you will want to first create the Levels Adjustment Layer and then simply be selecting the Cooling Filter. For this step, there is no direct answer to every image is slightly different and you will find that each of these adjustments will work very differently on any given image.