Monthly Archives: December 2009

High dynamic range imaging (HDR) Photography Tutorial

HDR By Harsh alkutkar

HDR-By Harsh Alkutkar

What is HDR?

HDR Photography is a technique which allows a higher range of luminosity , contrast and tones with normal photographs. If used well it can bring out the parts of a photograph which are poorly lit or which have poor colour.

You do not need any “special” camera to capture this image just some software.

What do I need?

In this tutorial you will need:

1. A digital camera – any resolution above 5 MP should do with manual features which allow you to adjust the EV levels or exposure

2. A computer with certain HDR software. Im going to use the most widely used one – Its called Photomatix. Photoshop will also do but I wont cover that here. You can get photomatix at Note: The trial version has a watermark on the image.

3. Photoshop / Lightroom / Picasa3 or whatever you use for final touching up. Anything you can adjust the color levels/curves in

Okay I’m ready lets start!

1. Find something to shoot – Usually a nice scene like  a sunrise /clouds / rainforests where there is a lot of detail. Dawn or Dusk is the best time to capture vibrant sunrises.Im going to use one of my own here.

2.Set your camera to the Manual Exposure mode (At least for Sony It may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer)

PMode EV levels Sony Cybershot P-200

Now keep the camera extremely still. This is important because if any of your shots moves the HDR wont com out properly. Use a tripod , keep it on a wall , lean on a wall ,use two hands to hold it whatever but it HAS to be 100% still. Once you have set your zoom / white balance on the subject , Adjust the EV levels as shown or according to your camera. They should range from -2.0 to +2.0 with a stepping of 0.3. You have to get at least three shots for a good HDR. (Minimum two maximum as many as you want). Try one on +2 , -2 , 0 Or choose three values such that your subjects are not too over exposed or under exposed. Keep the spacing same if possible. Like +1,0,-1 or -0.3 , 0 ,+0.3

etc. Try and repeat this a few times because most of your photos wont come out right the first time. So shoot 3photosx2 copies. Try different settings for autofocus/zoom/white balance etc.

For example:

-2 EV

0 EV

+2 EV

Note: You can use these images itself for the tutorial. Just click on the three. Save the enlarged views one by one.

3.Download your photos onto the computer. Open up photomatix. Click on “Generate HDR” on the left. Drag the photos into the box. Click OK. Again choose the default settings and click OK again. It should sayAligning images…. generating HDR.. and poof you get this : -\

Photomatix Pro

No thats not what we want. Click on Tone Mapping. on the bottom leftPhotomatix Settings

Now the fun part. First Select the Natural Preset at the bottom. Any preset you like really. Then start adjusting the Strength, I pushed it up a bit, Luminosity , Colour Saturation, White clip and Black Clip till you get something like this.
You should not get a lot of noise and not too much colour either.Get the basic image right. Then click on Process at the bottom.

tone mapping...

After the tonemapped image shows up click on File->Save. Save it to some known location. You are basically done with your image. But if you want to bring out more colours etc. Import the tonemapped image into photoshop.


Adjust the levels – RGB , Red, Blue, Green by moving the sliders closer or adjusting the middle slider. You should start to see the colours kick in. Don’t overdo it . It should not have a visible “tint” of any colour.

Then add a black border like this. First use the Rectangle select tool. Drag a Box around the part you want to visible. Right click on the dotted part and select – “Select Inverse”. The border gets selected. Now wait. Add a new layer. Layer->Layer. Only then when the New layer is active and selected use the paint bucket – Fill to fill the border with black. You can also add a pattern overlay that makes it look like a photo frame through the Text FX at the bottom

Select inverse
Select Inverse Option
Add your name/watermark with a nice font and voila!
Hope you liked it!

Part III: Photoshop for Idiots

PART III: Photoshop for Idiots

Basic Photo Editing

Open up your favourite photo in photoshop with the File -> Open. Ive selected one of my own.  There is no such fixed procedure for photos but generally there are some basic things that you should learn to do

1.The levels


Original Image

Original Image

 The levels tool can move and stretch brightness levels in a histogram using three main components: a black point, white point and midtone slider. We play with these sliders until we get the right brightness,colour,contrast. Ususally start by slowly pushing the white point and black point sliders inwards first. Then adjust the midtone. If you overdo it you will lose colour


When you push them inwards you may get the consistency something close to this

Post level

Post levels

 You can also select the Red/Blue/Green channel individually. for example in this one there is a lot of blue. So we can adjust the Blue Channel.

2.The Curves

(Image -> Adjustment -> Curves)

The Curves affects the tone of the picture and can effectively stretch or compress them. The presets will do for now.I’ve chosen the “darker” preset. There are others too depending upon what you want your photo to look like. You can also try clicking and adjusting the curve. Unlike levels this tool lets you control how different individual parts of the same picture will look.

 3.The colour balance     

   This tool is pretty straightforward. I want to bring out a little bit of red from the clouds. So I’ve jacked up the red and blue. You can apply this for only shadows and highlights too.

Post Colour Balance

4.The Exposure  

      You can correct your exposure with this tool. I want a darker more grungy exposure.So Ive applied the settings above.Notice that Ive also cropped it and added my watermark with the text tool.Thats it your done! This is the final picture.Final Image

You may also prefer to use the Brightness Contrast / Hue Saturation tools to improve our output

Photoshop for Idiots – Part 2

PART – II : The toolbox and using the toolbox

When you start the application the toolbox appears on the left hand side of your screen as a narrow strip as shown.These contain various tools which I will illustrate with examples one by one

1.The Marquee tools.

This is the first tool you can see in the toolbox represented as a dotted square. It is used for making selections – rectangular , horizontal , circular , elleptical etc. They may be selected for various reasons. Usually for cutting and pasting parts of an image.If you right click on it you can see the four different types. Use them as needed

 2.The Move tool.

This one moves selections, layers or guides. No explanation needed

 3.The Lasso tool

It makes freehand , polygonal and magnetic(snap) selections. Usually when we cut out a face from a picture we use these tools.I prefer the magnetic lasso as it automatically tries to detect edges.When you click the path and move from your start point back to your same start point the selection will turn dotted.

4.The Magic Wand tool

This tool selects similarly coloured areas.It may not be very accurate. But sometimes it can save time for selections.


5.The Crop tool

The crop tool trims images. Simply select the part to be cropped. Then click on Crop

  6.The Slice tool and Slice Selection Tool.

The slice tool allows you to make “slices” of your layout if you are designing a webpage or something.You can right click on the document select Divide Slice and use it.

The slice selection tool will help you select those slices

7.The Healing Brush tool

This tool will help you repait something like an old photograph which has some irregularities as shown. You have to define a source point. i.e a part/pattern of the image will be copied onto the place where you need to fix it so that it will look smooth and original. You must move your cursor and Alt-Click. Then move your pointer over the image that needs fixing.


Here you can see the faint black line that I am repairing. I have alt-clicked a little to the right of the line so the same pattern is being copied.

You can do this for faces to fix any pimples , smooth out skin cuts etc.

The Red eye tool is used to remove the red eye effect that you get when you shoot pictures at night.


8.The Magic Eraser and Eraser tools.

The eraser tool is used to erase parts of images and the Magic eraser will automatically cut out similarly couloured areas. For example as shown







9.The Gradient Tool / Paint Bucket tool

The gradient tool will let you create gradients which you can edit in the gradient editor by clicking where the mouse pointer is in the image. The paint bucket tool will let you fill a selectionwith a single colour







10.Brush Tool

This is a very important tool as  if you plan to create your own artwork you will be downloading new brushes and using them. A brush can of different types shapes sizes and even custom made like the bubbles and hands. Which you need to download and install of course. Or most of them are built in. You may select the hardness thickness diameter etc from the top left corner


Other tools:

Text tool (T) for inserting various types of text and rotating/distorting it etc



Rectangular (Different Shapes) tool can be used for different shaped

Blur tool ( Looks like a water drop) used for blurring parts of an image.

Sharpen and Smudge tools are also available under the Blur tool. Just right click it.

Zoom tool (Magnifying glass) for zooming in and out

Clone stamp tool – looks like a stamp or a camera. Similar to the healing  tool and same working.Repeats a pattern or an image after defining a source point

Thats it! Now we are ready to actually do some work!


Photoshop for Idiots – Part 1

Ive finally decided to compile a tutorial for people who are interested in photography and editing.

PART I: Introduction

What is Photoshop and why would I use it?

Photoshop is a very powerful graphics editing program by Adobe Inc. There are a lot of things which you cannot do in your standard photo editing applications such as Picasa or Microsoft’s Photo Editor. For example adjusting levels , applying various effects, creating art from scratch etc. It is the best and most widely used program whose full retail price is around 800$ (around 34,000 INR) for a single user license. Other versions such as Photoshop elements are also available for a reduced price.

Where do I get it?

I am assuming you already have photoshop though I wont ask how and where you got it but most of the people get it off torrents. and . Those are all the things you need 🙂 *wink*. Ill be using CS3 Versions. CS4 will also do

1.The Basics

You should see the main screen after opening photoshop like this: –

Main Screen

Main Screen


Let us take a closer look at each of the components one by one

1.The Menus:


A lot of options which are not available otherwise are located inside the menu bar. It contains

File: – Opening Saving Closing Importing Exporting files etc are done here

Edit: – We have your basic Undo , Redo , Cut Copy Paste , then Free Transform or Transform options and later the Keyboard Shortcuts , Menus and Preferences,Color Settings etc.

Image: – Commands affecting the Size – (Image Size Canvas Size) , colour Mode (Bitmap,Greyscale) , The Adjustments Panel (Most important) Where you have your Levels , Contrast, Shadows , Saturation etc settings which you will be using often. Also Rotate Canvas settings (For rotating a picture by 90 or 180 degrees)

Layer: – Commands for Creating and Altering Layers – like New Layer, Delete / Duplicate Layers, Layer Properties and Layer Styles which we will be using a lot and Merging Layers etc

Select: – Commands that allow you to “select” various parts of the photo for cutting trimming etc

Filter: – The Filter Menu allows access to various plugins inside photoshop.Typical plug – ins involve special effects , blurring ,sharpening , artistic sketches etc. You may have a different nuumber of plugins but most of the standard ones are there.You can also download new ones

Analysis: For actual measurements with a “ruler”

View: – Zoom in ,Zoom out ,show grid, Fit on screen are some of the options

Window:- You can arrange your workspace automatically (tile or cascade all the open images) , also this menu includes various panels such as Brushes Layers Styles which you need if you are designing some wallpaper or web page or abstract art materials etc.

Help: Includes all the help options in photoshop

2.Basic Photoshop Tool Palettes

 These are the windows that appear on the right side of your screen

There are four main tool palettes: –

1.Navigation Palette

It allows you to see a smaller picture of your work and zoom in or zoom out(Navigator Tab)

This is great because you dont have to zoom out and see what the picture will look like when you are done with it.

The info Tab gives you information about the colour and screen position of the current tools pixel

2.The Color/Swatches/Styles Palette

The color palette allows you to quickly tune the foreground color so that you don’t have to go into the color picker to do it.The swatches tool is also very nice.There are different fill styles too.

3.The Layer/Channels/Paths Palette

This is the palette which you keep needing the most. The layers palette lets you play around with layers, adjust the blending modes – Normal Screen etc, The order in which layers are organised the Opacity of each layer etc. The Channels and Paths are rarely used by normal people 🙂


4.The History palette

 This is a great tool because photoshop records every change you make to a photo. In case you find something is not right you can find that action in the history , go back to the original stage before you screwed it up.Actions is a bit advanced.

Now lets take a look at the toolbox in the next blog.

Apple to PC (Hackintosh) on my HP530

After Stumbling upon a lot of posts about Apples Operating System ( A lot of people still dont know it exists ). Mac OS X (10.5) Or Leopard as they call it, I wondered why people were so desperate to get it installed on their PC’s. Okay I got that it costs more but till now all I heard about it was “Its crappy and it does not run any windows software”. I would like to dispel both these myths.

Firstly I would like to tell you that Apple’s Operating system is not supported on any other platform except their own. Their Mac Book Pro’s or Airs come preloaded with this software.There is no “retail” version for the PC that you can go buy at a store.

The differences between the hardware used in PCs and Macs require various patches to be installed before Leopard can run.Fortunately two groups of people have been successful in hacking the kernel and making it into a bootable dvd that can be installed on any PC without much knowledge of terminals etc.These packages are referred to as iATKOS and Kalyway.

Legal Issues:

There are various legal issues invloved as Apple’s agreement limits the software only to Apples computers.However you may able to download a copy of the DVD. Check for the latest version. You can think of it as a “demo” version before you buy the original licensed copy.

I wont be writing about how I did it because basically all you have to do is download it, burn it to a dvd and run the installation and partition one of your drives and format it to be used with Mac’s version of FAT.There are many guides available for that. You may have a problem with the drivers (or kexts as they call it) Trial and error will give you the right ones. Barring a few exceptions you can have a fully functioning Operating system.

The difference between Mac and Windows

The Mac was the first computer really to have a “Graphical user Interface” or GUI. Microsoft copied it into Windows 95. Steve Jobs still gloats about it.A lot of fonts were also designed on the Mac before windows copied all the features.

Why I liked the Mac better?

1. Firstly it boots up WAY faster than windows XP or vista or 7. I’ve seen this practically with the dual boot on my computer.

2. The installation takes only about 20 minutes where it ranges from 45 minutes to an hour for Windows Vista or 7 depending upon your RAM and other things

3. The interface is extremely easy to use. Any idiot or anyone with hardly any knowledge could use a Mac (provided they were not used to Windows first that would just irritate them). The dock at the bottom and the huge icons help for quick access

4. Websites open up much much faster in Apples version of explorer or an internet browser called “Safari”.  Hardly any crashes or scripting errors like you get in explorer

5. The names that they give to their applications and products are very appealing. What sounds better? the dull old “internet explorer” or “Safari” ? “Windows movie maker ” or iMovie? “Windows Media Player”or iTunes. Microsoft Office or iWork.

6. Switching between applications is very easy. The Expose application allows you to see all your running windows at once and Spaces allows you to use multiple desktops and switch them.

7. The iChat application. I love chatting with it. It connects to Gtalk,AIM. When I get an incoming message the blue ichat icon starts jumping at the bottom. Yes literally “jumping” and makes a really cute sound and a small dialog box pops up with the message in a baloon. The alternate left-right arrangements also look beautiful

8. Overall the OS works Really Really Fast as compared to windows.

It runs Windows Software. Yes Everything

Everything from Explorer , Office, Word to Call of Duty ,Warcraft almost everything works with Mac. You have to install a simple 3rd Party application. There are various ones available. Im listing a few.

Crossover Mac –

Wine – (free open source)

Virtual Machine from Parallels. –

All these applications create a ” fake” or emulated windows environment where any windows program can run. You need to install windows on it though first. Then you have XP/7  running in a separate window inside Mac.

Time for change!

The reason why we cant adopt a Mac now is because of Windows. Microsofts strategy of allowing piracy (unofficially) helps them gain control of the worlds market. Like a virus outbreak. Everyone starts using windows. Now the scenario is such that apple has only 10% of the worlds market while Windows dominates. Windows has paralysed everyone to sticking to it. Life had become unimaginable without windows. Every household in India has a pirated copy of windows along with their Pc. Im sure most people are still not aware you need to purchase  a “legit” copy of windows.

For all of you people who think its okay to use pirated windows and if you think Microsoft cant find out about it you are wrong. They know exactly how many people use pirated copies. They just wont take action because suing individuals isnt really affordable. They catch the big fish  – Companies and Industries.

Its time for change people. Adopt a Mac!

How I did it – short summary:-

1. Downloaded Kalyway 10.5.2. Installed on stock kernel / drivers.

2. Drivers(Kexts)  for Intel GMA 950 –

3.  Audio – Mic / Out everything works –

4.Wireless – (Causes Kernel Panic many times)

5.PS/2 Controller – VoodooPS2 – (Disable the apple on first or you are screwed)

A New Beginning…

Wow I’ve finally taken my first step of joining WordPress to try my hand at blogging. A lot of people keep asking me a lot of common questions about computers. I wish to give them simple and easy solutions that I have found in the past after “extensive research” 🙂

I also plan on writing about my recent discoveries. I may not always be right after all this a blog. Suggestions are welcome

Thanks a Lot