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How can I get this HDR or painted blur effect from a photo in Photoshop, Gimp, Inkscape or some other software?


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Here's a tutorial found via google: – Scott Jan 10 '14 at 20:49
For max and posterity, I want to point out that what normal people call "HDR" is in reality a filter technique which uses multiple images, so as I said down below, you can use any set of photos to create an HDR-like effect. True HDR is more than 8-bit per pixel and virtually no one has equipment to display it natively. The halo effect is a by-product of blown out whites in an overexposed photo, which can be faked using levels and blur. – horatio Jan 10 '14 at 21:57
up vote 2 down vote accepted

To create a similar effect as can be seen from HDR photos we can increase overall image details by a fake contrast enhancement by a dynamic range increase.

There is quite a cool effect "Freaky Details" from the G'MIC plugin to Gimp which tremendously helps us to do so.

  1. Source image:

    enter image description here

  2. "Freaky Details" with ridicoulous high settings:

    enter image description here

  3. Heavy Gaussian blurring:

    enter image description here

  4. The blurred image 3. with 50% opacity as a layer on top of the detailed image 2. gives the desired effect:

    enter image description here

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As Scott mentions indirectly, this is what is usually called an HDR photo. The idea is you take a series of photos by bracketing: you take a single good photo and then 2 or more by altering the exposure (time or aperture) in both "directions" (lighter and darker). HDR requires a minimum of three I think.

The overexposed ones give you more detail in the shadows, and the underexposed ones give you more detail in the lightest areas.

Then you use software which can handle HDR (Photoshop and GIMP both do AFAIK at least, with plugins). This creates an HDR image which you manipulate and then save as a standard 8 bit per channel RGB.

The halo effect you see in this one is probably due to fog or moisture in the air coupled with over-exposure.

Note that some cameras have HDR automation (autobracket and postprocess) built in and some smartphones cave apps for it.

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is there any chance to get the effect without HDR? – Max Gontar Jan 10 '14 at 21:22
@Max searching for "fake hdr gimp" produces this result: Fake high dynamic range effect for Gimp – JohnB Jan 10 '14 at 21:36
@MaxGontar Using the dodge and burn brushes in photoshop/gimp can give similar effects. You need to adjust exposure levels and you can also try the sharpen filter (I don't know what the equivilant in GIMP would be) on top. – OghmaOsiris Jan 10 '14 at 21:39
@JohnB this is a little closer to what I am searching, but it's still not the effect from my sample – Max Gontar Jan 10 '14 at 21:40
fake the overexposure by playing with levels and add a little blur, make and underexposed one then run the three through as if they are bracketed. You'll get some of the features, but the main idea behind HDR (aside from the extended gamut you get) is that you are getting the best detail from all the images: you get great shadow detail and yet the clouds don't get blown out to white. Faking it doesn't get you the detail, but may give you the other features such as the yellow cast. – horatio Jan 10 '14 at 21:41

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