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Dealing with Ghosting in Merge to HDR Pro in Adobe Photoshop CS5

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In this excerpt from The Adobe Photoshop CS5 Book for Digital Photographers, Scott Kelby shows you how to manage ghosting in Merge to HDR Pro.
From the book

If anything was moving slightly in the scene you were photographing (like water in a lake, or tree branches in the wind, or people walking by, etc.), you’ll have a ghosting problem, where that object is either blurry (at best), or you’ll actually see a transparent ghost of that part of the image (henceforth the name). In this photo of New York’s Times Square, although I was on a tripod, it was shot at night, requiring longer exposures, and both people and cars were moving in the scene, and that created ghosting problems galore!

Step One:

Go ahead and select your HDR bracketed images in Mini Bridge, then choose Merge to HDR Pro from Mini Bridge’s Tools icon’s pop-up menu. When the images open in the Merge to HDR Pro dialog, use the Scott 5 settings I gave you in Step 14 in the “Creating HDR Images in Photoshop CS5” project (near the beginning of this chapter), but since this image was shot at night, increase the Exposure amount to 0.80 to brighten it up, and also set the Shadow slider to –100. Now, zoom in to at least a 100% view, and you’ll see that there’s a lot of ghosting in the image (the car on the left is totally blurry, and parts of the heads of the two guys on the right are see-through).

Step Two:

Turn on the Remove Ghosts checkbox at the top right of the dialog (it’s shown circled here in red). Merge to HDR Pro tries to deal with the ghosting by looking for things that are in common in all your exposures to lock onto and it does a pretty amazing job of it. Of course, sometimes it makes the wrong guess (more likely, if you’re creating HDR from JPEG images rather than from RAW images), and if this happens, you can choose which of your bracketed photos you think it should lock onto, by clicking on its thumbnail in the filmstrip at the bottom of the dialog.

Step Three:

The thumbnail with the green highlight around it is the one it chose to lock onto for de-ghosting purposes (you’ll only see this green highlight when the Remove Ghosts checkbox is on), and if you look back in Step Two, you’ll see that it originally chose the thumbnail on the left. If you want to try one of the other images, and see if using it does a better job than the one Photoshop chose, just click on it down in the filmstrip. Here, I clicked on the third image, and it actually looks worse. (Note: If you shot a multi-photo exposure of something, like waves rushing to the shore, you can actually choose which individual wave you want visible using this same technique, so it’s not just for ghosting.) So, at this point, I’d click back on the first thumbnail, which did a pretty amazing job.

Step Four:

You finish this surreal style HDR image off just like you learned in “Creating HDR Images in Photoshop CS5”—by saving it as a TIFF or JPEG, then reopening it in Camera Raw for the finishing moves. In this case, I added a standard edge vignette in the Lens Corrections panel (what’s an HDR without a huge vignette, eh?), and then I used the settings you see here in the Basic Panel: set the Exposure at +0.65, Recovery at 24, Fill Light at 25, Blacks at 15, and increase the Contrast to +15. Lastly, as always, I pumped up the Clarity (in this case, to +39, as shown here). Now, in this image, there’s a lot of ghosting throughout (not just the people and cars, but the moving signs, as well), but more than likely, your ghosting will be caused by a swaying tree branch, or ripples in a pond, or one of a million things that move for the sole purpose of messing up HDR images (kidding).

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