HDR Realism Vs Cartoony Look, Please help


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Oct 7, 2011
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I have done about 20 HDR photos. Most of them have a cartoony look to them.
I am trying to make my images have more of a realism to them. Does anybody have a certain workflow they can share with me. I have photomatix, photoshop CS5, Nik HDR efex pro, Lightroom 3, and Photoshop Elements

Thanks in advance!!!
Which version of Photomatix do you have? if you have Photoshop CS5 you certainly dont need Elements. Why do you waste the space on your drive for it? If you PM me with your exact work flow I will tell you mine.
I blend all of my HDRs by hand in CS5 using layer masks. It helps tone down the over processed look HDR software can sometimes add. It's time consuming but worth it.
I shoot mostly landscapes though, more difficult for buildings.
I know you use topaz for filtering but, what are you using, what filters? If you lay to many filters on you will over process the image and if you try to saturate your image with to much color you will get more cartoony look.

I have already have given you my workflow have you tried it to a T? The written tutorial really will give you a realistic HDR if you follow the steps.

Did you take Trey Ratcliff's class? I think I remember you saying you were taking it at one point. If so have you finished it? Did you learn anything? Just asking because I know he talks about a lot of things and shows many tips of how to create better looking HDR's
In Photomatix, just make sure to leave the "Smoothing" bar (light smoothing) to high or highest. That's where I decide how natural looking the image will be. It depends on the scene, of course, but I try to leave that as high as I can to get the look I'm after.

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