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Viewing HDR imagesWhen you look at a HDR image in Photoshop, the colors can look dark or washed out. This is because 32 bits/channel images have a dynamic range that monitors are not capable of displaying. If your monitor was capable of displaying such range, the image would look a lot more dynamic. Currently, there are no consumer-grade monitors that can display the dynamic range of 32 bits/channel image. In Photoshop, you can adjust the preview to see the details in the highlights or shadows that are washed out on your monitor. The preview does not affect the image information; it is only used for previewing. To adjust the preview, choose View > 32-Bit Preview Options. Choose one of the two methods:
- Use the Exposure and Gamma method to adjust the brightness and contrast. Adjust the sliders to adjust the image brightness and contrast then click OK.
- Use the Highlight Compression method to compress the highlights so that they do not look overexposed. There are no settings to adjust with this method. Simply click OK.
Converting an image to an 8 or 16 bpc workspaceFor photography purposes, most of the time you will want to tone map your 32-bpc image into a 8- or 16-bpc image. This lets you create a 8- or 16-bpc image with details that would normally be hidden. For example, an overexposed sky can be restored by tone mapping. First, make sure that you have a 32-bpc image opened then choose Image > Mode > 16 Bits/Channel or 8 Bits/Channel. In the HDR Conversion window, you can choose one of four different methods to convert the image into a lower bit depth:
- Exposure and Gamma lets you adjust the brightness and contrast. To use Exposure and Gamma, adjust the Exposure slider to get the correct brightness then adjust the Gamma slider to get the correct contrast.
- Highlight Compression will compress the highlights to prevent overexposed areas. For example, if you had a bright sky that looked white on your monitor, the Highlight Compression method will make the sky darker to reveal the details. There are no settings to adjust in this method.
- Equalize Histogram compresses the entire image (both highlights and shadows) to reveal the maximum details. There are no settings to adjust in this method.
- Local Adaptation is the most popular method to use to reveal hidden details in high-contrast images. This method uses a special algorithm to adjust the tonal values so that the most details can be seen. To use Local Adaptation, adjust the Radius slider to adjust the size of the local brightness regions to get the correct contrast between the edges. Then, adjust the Threshold slider to specify the sensitivity of the Radius setting. You can also expand the Toning Curve and Histogram area to adjust the toning curve.