Correct HDR Photographs in Photoshop Elements

Once you've taken your HDR photographs and tone mapped them, you can open the new HDR image in Photoshp Elements and begin to edit, checking color, white balance, and brightness.

Choose Enhance→Adjust Lighting→Levels to open the Levels dialog box (as shown in the figure). Click the Auto button to see whether you like the change. After this, look at the histogram. Then select the individual color channels and examine their histograms.

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Sometimes, a correction is necessary; sometimes, it isn’t. You can alter an image’s contrast through the Levels dialog box, but you might prefer to use the Curves dialog box for that.

Correct obnoxious color problems

There’s a difference between tweaking color to enhance (which you do later) and solving color problems (which you do here). Sometimes, you’ll have an image with too much of a single color. You can control this from the Hue/Saturation dialog box (choose Enhance→Adjust Color→Adjust Hue/Saturation).

Enhance brightness and contrast

Use the Adjust Color Curves dialog box to enhance the brightness and contrast. Choose Enhance→Adjust Color→Adjust Color Curves to open this dialog box, as shown.

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You can also choose Enhance→Adjust Lighting→Brightness/Contrast or even Enhance→Adjust Lighting→Shadows/Highlights.

Make creative saturation adjustments

Saturation adjustments can be varied. In general, look to increase saturation to add some pop. You can also reduce saturation to make the photo look a bit aged. Choose Adjustments→Adjust Color→Hue/Saturation to open the Hue/Saturation dialog box, as shown.

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Dodge and burn

Use the Dodge or Burn tools to add highlights and shadows where you want them. (The Dodge tool lightens the area you paint, while the Burn tool darkens the area.) When well done, this adds to the overall impact of the photo. Clouds look great when you add tone this way (a smidge of both), as do trees and other greenery. (You normally lighten the highlights of trees.)

(Optional) If converting to black and white

For images you know you want to be in black and white, you might skip a lot of the color adjustments unless you think they will add to how the black-and-white image is converted.

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