Think outside the lens!

A photographer’s journey

HDR photos, poor man style using Picasa 3 January 12, 2009

Ever heard of HDR? It stands for “high dynamic range” which means that there is a larger amount of range between light and dark areas in a photo. Usually, it is a pretty long process. A photographer must choose a location, set up a tripod, be very careful not to move the set-up then, take 3 photos all at different settings (correct settings, blow out the highlights, and saturate the shadows). Then, when post-processing, it usually takes time to layer the images correctly and morph them into the final product.

Picasa has just simplified this for you:

pmHDR (or “poor man’s”) HDR is simple and easy with a couple of steps!

  1. Open Picasa and choose an awesome photo (landscapes work wonders!) and export it to a folder. Name the folder HDR
  2. Open the HDR folder and choose the photo you want to edit (title it ORIGINAL), save a copy of this photo in the same folder.
  3. Click on the copied photo “Tuning” tab and increase the fill light to your liking (the higher, the better but don’t blow it out). Sharpen the image to your liking.  You can also mess with other settings like blur, glow and warming. Save and title the photo HIGHLIGHTS
  4. Click back on the original photo and save another copy.
  5. Click on the copy and then click the “tuning” tab and now increase the shadows to your liking (dark but not black).  Save and title SHADOWS
  6. Highlight the two edited images (Highlights and Shadows) and the click on “Create Collage” (click here to learn how to create a collage )
  7. Choose the “Multiple Exposure” option. This should give you an HDR effect.

It takes some time to get used to the settings you like, also, no two pictures are the same. Some might look good with a blur effect, others need to be sharpened more. Here is a before and after of my first pmHDR:






9 Responses to “HDR photos, poor man style using Picasa 3”

  1. Nice job. Have you tried any HDR work? I’d encourage you to give it a try, it’s quite rewarding.

  2. Shakethatcamera! Says:

    I’ll try out this process. But the photo above does not seem to be the best example. I would hope that an HDR photo would bring out more of the clouds, not less. And the “after” photo has increased the blue color bleeding on the tree line (I know there’s a name for this…)

    That said, you certainly succeeded in having your yellows pop!

  3. liza Says:

    You might want to try and photflexer. Great editing tools for budget conscious photogs. Good luck!

  4. Joe Says:

    Interesting concept. I often wondered if this could be simulated with Picasa. I just tried this with a few pictures but did not like the result. Came out too overexposed even when holding back on the fill light. I am playing with the controls to see if I can get better results. Thanks for the idea!

  5. Thank you so much for this trick. I didn’t know that we can do HDR in Picasa! Check my blog soon and I’ll show you some of my end results!

  6. Chris Says:

    This looks nothing like HDR! Infact it just looks like you beefed up the contrast and uped the saturation. How can you even offer this as a psuedo HDR.

  7. R. Hitchcock Says:

    Chris, thanks for your opinion, that’s EXACTLY what I did. It’s just one option for people to try that don’t have a lot of time or just want another option for post-processing, that’s why I offered the idea. Maybe you should try it and see how it comes out! I’d love to see the results!

  8. Amazing stuff Randi!
    I was too tired to go through Photoshop or Gimp for this. Picasa did the trick for me! Thanks to you!

  9. jt Says:

    Another poor man’s technique. Use photomatix trial and save a screenshot since it adds a watermark.

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