Poor Mans HDR

This technique is good for fixing up an image if you do not have software that can do single frame high dynamic range processing. As an example here is a picture I took outside of Payson, AZ:
I took this picture on a tripod with the flash set to rear sync. The picture is not particularly bad, the sunset is nice but a little bright. The background behind us is almost completely black.

Step one - in Photoshop press Control J to create a duplicate image.
Step two - on the menu bar select Image/adjustments/desaturate.
you should now have 2 layers, one that looks like the picture above and the other that looks like this:
Step three - with the desaturated layer selected on the menu bar select image/adjustments/invert.
Step four - with the second layer selected change the blending mode to soft light.
Your image will now look like this:
The image is "technically" perfectly exposed but doesn't look quite right.

Step five - with the second layer selected from the menu bar choose Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur. Move the slider all the way to the right. Click OK.

Your Second layer will look sorta like this:
Your completed picture would then look like this:
Notice that the Sunset has been slightly darkened and the dark background has been brought out. My wife and I have also been ever so slightly darkened as well.

You can now Merge the layers down, convert to 8 bit, and save as a jpeg if you want.

This technique works best on 8 bit jpeg's. It works ok on some 16 bit pictures.

To automate this process you can create an "Action" and assign it a function key, on my computer I have f2 set to do this. Consult your Photoshop help on how to create an Action.

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