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How to Turn a Dull Shot Into Something Exciting

Over in the Digital Photography forum one of our members, Technical Tim, shared the following ‘before and after’ of an image that he’d manipulated with some post processing. Other forum members were keen to hear more of how Tim had done it and asked him to write it up. Tim’s done that and has offered it to be published here on the DPS blog.


As a relative newcomer to Digital Photography I am keen to learn and improve my skills and a colleague has recently introduced me to a piece of software called Photomatix Pro3. The software’s primary function is to enable the creation of HDR images from a selection of RAW images taken at different exposures; however it can also be used with a single RAW image.

I dropped a rather gloomy, unassuming image of the clock tower at Manchester Town Hall, taken in May this year, into the software and it then creates a pseudo-HDR image – then the fun part begins.


Using the tone mapping function I then played about with the settings in the Details Enhancer tab, focusing on the building. Once I was happy I then saved this as a jpeg and also saved the settings for future projects.


I then imported the original image again into the software and this time using the Tone Compressor tab I adjusted the settings to alter the sky and saved both the image and settings as before.


The final stage was to open both images in Photoshop Elements and using layers I combined the two processed shots removing the sky from stage 1 to let the dark blue sky show through. It was then a case of tweaking the levels, applying a bit of dodge and burn and then a vignette to produce the final image.


The ability to take what may look like a redundant or wasted shot and turn it into something with visual impact has encouraged me along with the positive feedback and comments I have received. The process and resultant image may not be to everyone’s taste but it definitely broadens the scope of the mind’s eye.

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