Stephen Johnson Tutorial: An HDR Pro Approach

The White House: Dynamic Range, Perspective and Toning

On Labor Day weekend 2010 I was in Washington DC, on a absolutely gorgeous day, wandering through my favorite places, the Air and Space Museum, the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House. Standing among anti-BP Demonstrators I photographed the White House through the iron fence on the north side, looking up, somewhat into the sun and with brightly lit clouds and the building in its own shade. This produced a set of circumstances that were photographically challenging. It wasn't meant to be a serious day of photography, the tripod was in California, my heart was in the sunshine and the wonder of our nation's capitol. But why not try...

In Camera

  • I set the camera for auto bracket, rapid fire and did three photographs hand-held in quick succession, each two stops apart in exposure while bracing myself against the fence. The exposures were made at f9, at 1/2000, 1/500 and 1/125.

From RAW

  • I used Merge to HDR Pro to integrate the 3 exposures into a single 32 bit HDR file with Remove Ghosts enabled to correct for differences in the three exposures likely to be in the moving flag and water fountain.

In Photoshop

  • I converted the HDR file to 16 bit and carefully opened up the shadows while holding the highlights.
  • with Grids turned on, I corrected the vertical convergence created by tilting the camera up with Transform/Distort
  • an additional Curve Adjustment Layer was used to balance the deepest shadows into near black while still holding shadow luminousity and detail deep into those same shadows.

Photoshop CS6 Addition

  • I would now likely open the encoded HDR file in Photoshop CS6's Camera Raw 7 and process it for appearence there in the familiar interface. The HDR file must be saved in the DNG format for this to work. It is one of the great new capabilities in Lightroom 4 and Caemra Raw 7.


White House, Washington DC. 2010. Canon 1Ds Mark III



Photoshop CS5 Merge to HDR Pro screen on left, Convert to 16 bit on right. Click to Enlarge.


Additional Tutorials

More Tutorials, Technical discussions and Essays are linked from the Techniques Button on our Home page.

Techniques Page

Photography Workshops

Interested in learning more? Perhaps one of our digital photography classes would be of help? We take the imparting of information and the empowerment of our students quite seriously. The digital age has considerably enhanced our ability to teach, and we believe your ability to capture what you see. This program is designed to help you benefit from both of these advances. We hope you can join us on a workshop.

Next Workshops:

Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra
October 13-16, 2012

Critique Session
October 18, 2012

PhotoPlus. New York City
"12 Steps to Improve Your Digital Photography"
Friday, October 26, 2012. 1:30- 3:30pm

Beauty in Photography: Inspiration and Composition
November 3, 2012

Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on
November 10-13, 2012

Photographers & Photoshop Series
Photoshop CS6 and Photographers

Two Weekends: Part 1: Nov. 17-18. Part 2: Dec. 8-9, 2012

Print Day with Steve
November 25, 2012

Pt. Lobos and Carmel
December 1-3, 2012

Photographic Projects: A Personal History and Survey. At Mono Lake, The Great Central Valley, With a New Eye
January 12, 2013

Death Valley in Winter (full moon)
January 24-27, 2013

Yosemite in Winter
February 16-18, 2013

For a full list of current workshops, click here.

Workshop Testimonials


Home | Fine Art Prints | Products | Workshops | Announcements | Online Gallery
Consulting Services | Contact Info | Site Index | Related Web | Mailing List

Last updated on October 11, 2012 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2012 by Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.