The Magic Frame – Rescue if you can



The photograph above is the final edit that I made of one of my earliest attempts to do HDR photography.

This edit is an attempt to rescue a really bad photograph. Here, when I am referring to really bad photograph, I am referring to the set of six photographs that I sandwiched together, to make the final HDR image.

For this one, I used Aurora. Maybe, for the next time, I will see how this works in Lightroom as well as Photomatix.

In general, as you know, you need to get a photograph as correct as possible in camera itself. I believe, and this has probably come about as a result of my earlier years shooting with B&W film, that you cannot always erase away errors and bad photographs using editing tricks.

I really had no idea what I was going to do with this one.

In the screen shot below, you will see the original blend before I applied any presets. as you can see, there is a rather ugly glow all along the edges of the trees, and this really ugly shadow in the skies on the right.

It is an ugly HDR-photograph that I took. Remember, when I say HDR-Photograph, I am referring to the set of six.

Screenshot 2016-07-17 18.38.30

I then applied one of those misty presets. Then, I added a layer called Ethereal. Aurora allows you to apply layers.

I reduced the opacity to about 60%, and then made a few adjustments

Screenshot 2016-07-17 18.37.47

Next, I applied a layer called Misty Mountain, and then reduced the opacity to 88%. I added a glow. I reduced the “HDR Effect”, made it softer, and gave a slightly lavender hue to the shadows Screenshot 2016-07-17 18.37.42

Next, I exported this to Photoshop.

Screenshot 2016-07-17 18.45.25

I lightened it a tad, applied  burn to the monuments, and added two sets of glow. As you can see, there are two sets of tints. So, you see the bluish and the reddish hues.

The ugly edges have not quite gone, but they have been softened.

I was tempted to remove the ghosted gents, but I left it in. I figured that they add to the slightly surreal effect of the photograph.



  1. The end result is indeed very ethereal and beautiful in a different way but it might surprise you that I don’t find the original bad. I find it beautiful too but in a very different way. I was wondering what it would give with a lower exposure and more contrast in it with perhaps a shift in the balance of white.

      1. Please share if you do. I find the original picture has a lot of peace in it while the modified one seems magical and full of unseen possibilities (ethereal in brief). It would be nice to see how you could bring the peace to the forefront and make it stand out. I also like the juxtaposition between the impermanence of the flow of the river and the permanence of the stone

      2. Hm…Let me see how this can be done. The original is a sandwich of 6 exposures. Let me get the middle one, and put that up….

        Will that work?

      3. I don’t know but I think working on exposure and contrast is worth the try as the original picture has something beautiful that has just been somehow glared out by the lighting

  2. Interesting experiment. I like the mood. Don’t play with HDR myself. Need liked the results. I wonder if you could get the same results out of just one image. It might be possible.

    1. I am going to go with ‘umm’ for this one. By choosing a photograph in the middle of the exposure range, i think I could get a similar effect.

      Hard to say if it would have the exact same end result

  3. In the original the trees are the focus but in the other HDR photos the architecture becomes to focus. I rather liked the colour photo. Reality is good. The HDR photos are more surreal.

    1. Oh…. When I started off, I was completely baffled as well….

      Now, I am better, but then I read some and I say, ‘Holy Crap’ to myself, and realise that there are yet many miles to trudge along this damned PS path.

      If you are somewhat familiar with layers, then I can recommend a book to you. If you are not, then I will recommend two to you.

      E-Books both

      1. Start with a book called “Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshops Most Powerful Features” by Matt Klokowski.. I hope I did not spell his name wrong!

        Its available on Kindle. Read on the IPad!

        Get this, and then I will tell you the second

      2. The other book is called Photoshop CC Classroom In A Book,
        Once you buy this, you go to a site called
        Create an account, and download the lesson files.

        Then, as you read the book, you work on the images by following the instructions.

      3. This is fine.. You can still create layers and have fun… I shot jpeg for years

        now, I shoot jpeg and raw

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