Stephen Johnson: Comment on CS5 HDR Toning

Photoshop CS5 and HDR Toning

The most significant new feature for me in Photoshop CS5 is the new HDR capabilities including HDR Toning. It is easily my favorite feature in CS5 and has the potential to open up whole new realms of more luminous and realistic photo aesthetics.

Although similar in intent to the often over-used Shadows/Highlights Editor, HDR Toning's effects are much more controllable for me and less prone to the obvious masking effects. Over use into the special effect realm is certainly possible and often probable, but with restraint, this new feature allows for a realism in open shadows and luminosity that can make a significant contribution to photographic veracity.

Specifically, dynamic range in a photograph is often rendered with undue darkness in the shadows and a tendency for near wiping-out of highlights when made bright enough to give a sense of light-filled luminosity to the image. With careful and restrained use of the HDR Toning Adjustment you can work both ends of the tonal range to carefully open up shadows to a more natural human vision state and bring brighter values up without driving them to pure and undetailed whites.

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