Getting the Shot 10: Garuda

The Shot – I bet you are wondering where in Korea this giant bird is…. well it is not really in Korea. I know but my justification for putting on the blog is that a) enough Koreans head to here (Bali) that it does feel like you haven’t left Korea at times and b) I wanted to show a quick lesson on HDR and black and white conversion within Photmatix as well as some sharpening styles.

I know the shot isn’t the greatest but it serves its purpose for what I want to show you today. What you have here is a statue. However, the point is that the details are intact and the contrast adds something to the image… just disregards the haloing around the subject.

First of all, why did I take this shot anyway and convert it to black and white? Well the simple answer is that it looked like crap in colour. It was a great day and not much was going on in the sky besides rain. After merging the images in photomatix the final result looked off. Thus removing the colour made it a little more appealing.

The Location – This was taken in Bali’s Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park. Fragments of what is going to be one epic of a statue can be found there. The challenge here is that below are hordes of tourists all wanting the same shot. It is difficult to get a clear shot a peak times in the park.

The Post Processing – OK so we talked about the bracketing before but I will run you through it before we get on with what I did with this shot. Now on Canons it will usually be in the menu as AEB on my 30D it is quite simple. Now, if you are using the latest version of Photomatix on the side you will see “presets” Now normally I think these are nasty and are the stuff that gives HDR its bad name. However, try the Black and White conversion. Click the preset and then adjust the image to your liking.

Once this is done, you are not out of the woods. Load it up into photoshop but open it first in camera raw. If you don’t look for the little aperture circle icon on the top left side of bridge or hit cmd/ctrl R and that should open camera raw for you. Here is where you can play around with the settings as you like. I used the temperature slider to cool this down a bit.

In Camera Raw, above the the image you will see a set of icons. There will be a small rectangle that has a slight gradient to it. Click on that and it will take you to the gradient filter area. From here you can just click and drag down from the top to add a gradient effect to the shot to add more edge to what would be a rather boring sky.

Lastly, open the image into photoshop for some sharpening and perhaps some levels adjustments. These days I am finding that unsharp mask works really well and the settings that I am using are from Scott Kelby. They are Amount 150% Radius: 1 and Threshold 10. This is a softer sharpen but if you really want to bring out the details drop the amount down to about 65% and increase the radius to 4 pixels and the threshold to 3. Alternatively you can use smart sharpen and set it to reduce the lens blur and play around with the settings.


  1. Jimmy Reply

    Cool shot. Halos around an HDR image often make them look tacky but this really enhances it (p.s. I knew it wasn’t Korea because ‘garuda’ means ‘eagle’ in Indonesian. I believe that’s one browny point thanks!).

    I’m going to Seoul in two weekends time. If you’ve got time could you give me some idea of which tall buildings I could get some decent cityscape shots please?

    • Jason Teale Reply

      Points for that! Thanks for the comment. The halo thing is something that (depending on the scene) can be a bit of a challenge. Most of the time I just trash them if the halo is really bad. You’re right though, it does add something to the shot.

      As for Seoul, Sungjin Kim is probably your best bet to contact for buildings to shoot from. I just saw is recent post on the Korea Guide and it seems like he knows where to go to get up nice and high.

      • Jimmy Reply

        Thanks! I’ll be sure to get up there.

      • Jimmy Reply

        Just thinking, for the HDR shots, don’t you photoshop the halos out rather than chucking them away?

        • Jason Teale Reply

          It depends on the halos. If they simple ones just surrounding a subject you can select them and darken the layer to match. However if there is a complicated subject like a tree, the process gets painstaking and annoying. Also, a lot of times if you you reprocess and change the luminosity and other settings, it will greatly reduce the appearance of halos.

          • Jimmy

            I just process two images (one for sky, one for everything else), like Trey at stuckincustoms, and just edit them in Photoshop. It’s too much of a fiddle on playing with every thing in Photomatix to try and get the right balance for me.

  2. Julie Reply

    This is stunning! I agree with Jimmy above about HDR images being too obvious, but this is just beautiful.

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