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How to Smooth Rough Spots in HDR Images

Artifacts can appear in tone mapped high dynamic range (HDR) images that are the result of movement in the scene. Rough spots (as seen in this figure) happen in tone mapping when you have motion that oscillates. This is most obvious in plants, trees, and water, where subtle back-and-forth movement is captured by bracketed exposures.

You can’t correct rough spots while you generate the HDR image or during tone mapping. The best solution is to smooth these areas as you edit. You can do this at the point in your workflow where you would otherwise clone.

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Here’s how to smooth these spots to make them less distracting:

  1. In Photoshop Elements, duplicate the layer you want to make the adjustment on.

  2. Zoom in to see the problem closely.

  3. Select the Blur tool.

    This tool looks like a water droplet and is located with the Sharpen and Smudge tools, near the bottom of the toolbar.

  4. Adjust tool characteristics.

    Set the size and strength to fit the nature of the problem.

  5. Brush the problem area.

    Use the Blur tool to brush the edges of the rough spot to blend it in with the surroundings.

  6. Continue working with your image.

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