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Like this article? We recommend Choosing Your Preset

Choosing Your Preset

The next step in the HDR Efex Workflow is to experiment with the different presets to find a general look that you are going for; they range from minimalist (very realistic) to surreal and illustrative. My strong preference is towards the former (see Figure 3). The more realistic, the better, though like any photograph, adding a bit of extra saturation or styling is part of the creative process. Use your common sense. If after applying a preset you look at the shot and think “there is no way you would ever see this in the real world or anything close,” you’ve gone overboard IMHO and need to try another option.

Figure 3 Choosing a realistic preset can help you to achieve a pleasing HDR look. Here a split preview demonstrates the before-and-after differences for the “Realistic (Subtle)” preset. The settings for the preset are seen at right.

A good place to start if you want realistic HDR shots is—not surprisingly—to click the Realistic button at the top of the Presets panel. This will hide all other preset types. Click each option and watch the differences in the high contrast areas of your photo. Does it produce any halos? Is it hard to tell the difference from the original? Find a good look for your shot, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect—we’ll cover that in the next segment. (I also find the Landscape presets to be helpful in many cases.)

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