HDRshooter community

posted in Other on with No Comments

HDRshooter comunity

Maybe some of you have already noticed, the small addition of a spot in the bottom left of the blog. This is a new way you can interact with me, the blog, and also with each other. This is the new HDRshooter community :). Feel free to comment on the blog, post questions, links, your photos, what ever you want, just with few rules: no spaming, no trolling, no NSFW content, keep it civilized :)

When you have the spot opened you can not only join the chat, but if you click on Whats popular you can see the currently most popular posts and pages on the blog. So feel free to give it a try :)



Brackets to play with

And to give it a little push for the start, here you have the brackets from one of my photos. You can edit them in any way you like and share your result in the community chat. In a week from now, I will randomly choose one of those who shared their results and send a free copy of my video tutorials Master exposure blending.

You can download the brackets in RAW format from Dropbox here.

Also feel free to share you results on your facebook/flickr/blog, but please don’t forget to give me credit for the photo and link back here. And of course, please don’t use this photo for any commercial purpose (I’m still the author).


Discount code

And for those who would like to check out my video tutorials right away, you can use the code TWENTYOFF to get 20% off the price until the end of next week. You can find the whole description and the buy link on the Master exposure blending page. 

Alpine panorama

posted in Switzerland, Zermatt on with 2 Replies


How I blend HDR panoramas

Since today I’m sharing a panoramatic photo with your, I thought it would be a great time to remind you, that there is a guide in which I explain how I combine photos for HDR panoramas. You can find it here or in the sidebar menu.

Alpine panorama

I haven’t posted a panorama for some time, so here is a new one :) This one was take form the Schwarzsee under the Matterhorn. The sky was a little too cloudy when I took this, but the view was still great.

This panorama is 12000x3600px big and was created from 5 shots, each from from 2 exposures (I took 5 exposures for each one, but had no need to use them). If you are curious and want to see it bigger, you can find a 4000x1200px big version in my portfolio here. Just choose the original size in bottom right.  I’m not embedding the big version directly into the blog, as it’s over 6Mb :)
Alpine panorama

Focus blending

posted in Other on with No Comments

There are many techniques one has to know when taking landscape shots, and today I will try to explain focus blending :)

What is Focus blending

Focus blending, or also know as focus stacking, is a technique where you take multiple photos, all focused on a different distance and part of the scene, and put them together in one photo, where everything is in focus. This approach is very popular in Macro photography, where you just can’t get everything into focus in one shot, but is also very useful in landscape photos, where often you want to incorporate a foreground subject, that is just to close to the camera.

Here are two examples where I blended exposures with different focus.

Focus blending
Focus blending


How to take photos with different focus

For focus blending exposures, I really suggest going with full manual. Manual mode and also manual focusing. First of all you need to have the same exposure for all the shots. So setting it up for one, and than just keeping it the same is the simplest way to archive this. Secondly, you want to be 100% sure where the camera is focused, and this is just not possible with autofocus.

The number of needed exposure at different focus, depends on what you are taking photos off. It all depends where the blending transition will be. If it is in the sky, water or any other continuous transition, you will be OK with just two exposures that you can then blend manually. If the transition is much harsher, as the difference between the foreground and the background is bigger, you will need more exposures, and blend them automatically.

To take the shots, just start by focusing either on the background or the foreground, take the shots in full manual mode, and then without changing anything else, refocus on the the next part of the scene. If you are taking more than two shots, do the refocusing just by rotating the focus wheel a little towards infinity, or near focus (based on where you started) and repeat until you have the whole range.

If you want to be exactly precise or are doing macro shots, the best way to go is having a special remote, that can do this for you. For instance the Promote remote can take photos for focus stacking automatically, you set it up for how many shots you want. There are also different software, that can control your camera from a pc or a phone (check out the Helicos Focus), and if you have the Magic lantern firmware, you can do it directly in the camera.

Manual Focus blending

When combining only two exposures, doing it manually is mostly the way to go. Especially when the area of focus is quite different. You will quickly notice, that if someting is in the foreground, and out of focus, it is bigger, than if it is in focus. So blending it just in is not always that simple.

You can see this in this example photo I took in Dubai from Burj Khalifa. The corners of the glass wall, are much thiner when in focus. The only way I was able to manually blend them together was by the use of the sky, as that is same in both photos. On the bottom one, I had to leave a 1-2pixel wide gap, as that was an area for which I had no photo where it was in focus.

Focus blending
Focus blending

To manually blend, just load both images into Photoshop into separate layers. Hide the top one with a black layer mask, take a white soft brush, and start painting on the mask, where you want to reveal the top layer. In this example, it was the top and bottom part.

Focus blendingCombined manually
Focus blendingCombined in Helicon Focus

You can see here also a failed attempt to combine them in Helicon Focus, which didn’t work for the lack of exposures.

Automatic Focus blending

When trying to combine more than two exposures, this becomes a very hard task when doing it manually. But that’s what automated software is for. You of course need more exposures, as you will need a more gradual transition for them to work correctly. If you use bigger steps between exposures, there will be areas that are out of focus on every shot, and the software has nothing to use there.

Let’s look at this example series (please look at them only as an example, as I don’t have a macro lens, and this is not usually what I do :)). This series was taken with the help of the Magic lantern firmware.

Focus blending
Focus blending
Focus blending
Focus blending

One can either just use Photoshop or a specialized software. In Photoshop, you have to load all the images into separate layers, select the layers and then choose Edit->Auto-Blend layers. From there choose Stack images to get what you need. The option for Seamless tones and colors can help you get a better result, but it also can have a opposite effect, so I suggest experimenting and trying both.

For a specializes software, this is Helicon Focus. It does exactly what Photoshop does, just the algorithm is different. From my experiments, the results were better, but it depends quite a lot on the photo. Same as in Photoshop, it’s were easy to work with it, just load all the exposures you want to use, and choose a render method, that it.

In both options, after combining, you still have the possibility to mask out parts of any exposure, to get an even better result. And most of the times, this will be required.

Focus blendingCombined in Photoshop
Focus blendingCombined in Helicon Focus

That’s all for this article, and as always, feel free to ask if you have any questions.

Above the Chain bridge

posted in Budapest, Hungary on with 3 Replies



Some of you have maybe noticed, that another social network opened recently. It’s called Tsu, and it shows another, different approach to social networks. I have created an account there, just to reserve my user-name (one never know what the future brings :)) but for now I’m not sure if I will post there regularly. I mentioned it before, I want to scale down on my social networks, and use less of them. It just takes too much time and effort to be active everywhere. Already, on some of the networks I post only an update when I create a new blog post, and probably thats the fate for even more of them. I rather spend the time, I spend maintaining accounts, by writing more articles for the blog.

But if you want,  you can find me under http://www.tsu.co/miroslavpetrasko

Above the Chain bridge

I posted already quite a few photos from the St. Stephans fireworks in Budapest, and here is another one. As I mentioned with my first photo from there, for the start, I was at a really bad spot. And here you can see it. The view of the bridge was great, it just had one big problem. Most of the fireworks were not above the bridge. So if I stayed there, I would miss moss of all the fireworks. So right in the middle of them, I decided to move, and you already seen photos I got after that :)

This is a single exposure, edited in Lightroom, Oloneo Photoengine and Photoshop. The fireworks were a little smaller, so the scenery stayed a little darker than I would like, but at least the whole focus in on the fireworks :)
Above the Chain bridge

What day is today? Is it another Monday? It is, so it’s time for a new process post :) For today, I chosen this photo I took on my way from Zermatt in Switzerland. We just stopped the car next to the road, as I really wanted to capture the curving of it. So here goes.

As always, here is the finished and the original photo.

The curvy roadFinished photo
The curvy roadOriginal photo

I took 5 exposure for this, but I probably would be OK with 1 or 2. I just take more to be sure. I started my edit in Lightroom, where I removed the lens distortion, chromatic aberrations and corrected the white balance.

The curvy roadAll exposures
The curvy roadAfter Lightroom edits

From there I exported all the exposures as 16-bit tiff files, and loaded them into Oloneo Photoengine. To get the result I wanted, I just changed the strength, and added a little contrast. From there I loaded the result and all the original exposures, into layers in Photoshop and did the following edits (layers numbered from bottom up):

1. Oloneo Photoengine result
2+3. I removed the car on the side and corrected the white line around the road
4. Corrected few ghosted cars by blending in parts from the +1EV exposure
5. Merged copy where I cleaned out dust spots
6. Brightened the clouds from the +2EV exposure
7. Color Efex Pro contrast to get more detail into the picture
8. Little desaturation on the yellow colors
9. Color Efex Detail extractor to get more detail into the rocks
10. Brightened a little few shadows using the +2EV exposure
11+12. Added glow to the photo
13+14. Added ore contrast to the photo
15+16. Added more detail to the grass using Color Efex Tonal contrast, and desaturated it after that, so the colors are not overly saturated.

The curvy roadAfter Photoengine edit
The curvy roadPhotoshop screenshot

And that’s all I did with this image. To find out more on how I edit, check out the guides and before after categories on this blog, or check out my video tutorial series here: