Night HDR

Lil Bob

TPF Noob!
Oct 19, 2008
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I have a little problem, very time I try to produce an HDR image at night or in a dark area. The image turns out grainy like an old photograph. So what do I do to prevent this problem, because would like to do HDR's of cityscapes.


I believe it's to do with it trying to brighten things up somehow. I have yet to successfully make a nighttime HDR myself.
Forget about HDR for a moment.

Concentrate on ensuring each of the component images is of sufficient quality and noise free.
I haven't tried it yet myself, but one would assume that the same things that make a pic grainy in standard dark shots would be a factor in a HDR shot. In this case you cannot "nail the exposure" and this introduces the noise. I may have to try this tonight and see what happens. Noise reduction software may be needed, but I think my D700 will do ok by itself. I'll post back with some results tomorrow.

Edit 1:
Tried it out tonight. Yup, as I thought as soon as one starts to futz with the exposure, one starts to introduce a lot of noise and there is nothing anyone can do about that.

Nothing special, 3 pics from a camera on a tripod and 1 stop exposure apart gave me this:

ISO 3200, 1/6th shutter speed, 24mm

Noise is not an issue basically anywhere except the night sky (without noise reduction software at all, basically SOOC). Now I was not trying for anything artsy-fartsy special, just to see the results as I had never done this before... and now know that I don't need to do it again... lol. I think there are better ways to get you that high contrast image without noise... I'll try that next just for fun.

Edit 2:
Tried a heavily post processed pic in CS3 to see if I could get better results, but it was not HDR, but a single file.


The noise is much lower, it is still "cartoon-ish" like HDR but it is not HDR at all as it is made from a single exposure and about 8 layers and 30 min in CS3.
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make the photographs and exposures needed to produce the hdr image. once you have the hdr image and have that grainy crappy look, take the image into photoshop, take one of the original images that has a nice sky with a good exposure, use a layer mask and merge the two images together to get an image that is ruined with a pixelated sky.

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