This is the second post illustrating a few different approaches to creating a gritty and grungy look to your outdoor people images, or any people images you have shot.
This approach uses HDR (high dynamic range) with Photomatix. It has a completely different look than the image in this first post where the photo was processed using High Pass Filter and a Photo Filter Adjustment Layer with Sepia.
As mentioned in the first post, the Gritty and Grungy look can be found across the web with a variety of looks indicating that Grungy is interpreted pretty widely amongst photographers. While some consider grungy as simply high contrast, my view is more of higher contrast combined with over-sharpened and grainy, dirty look. That’s my interpretations and a simple online search shows vastly more interpretations than mine.To start, I am using the same RAW file here that was opened in RAW and using the Adjustment Brush, I lightened the face at +1 stop. I open the image in Photomatix and as a single image because I obviously don’t have 3 bracketed exposures and only want to use Photomatix for the HDR Tone Mapping.
The first setting I adjusted was the strength setting to the max: 100. This maximizes the contrast enhancements. And the more times you Tone Map the grungier you get but you also get a lot of artifacts and degradation that is not always a good compromise.
I lowered the color saturation below the default setting so that when I tone map again it is not over saturated. I set Luminosity to the max as well at 10. This determines how much compression of the tonal range you will get. It brightens shadow detail as well as the overall image some.
I set Microcontrast at the max as well at 10 as this gives the sharpened look I feel makes a gritty grungy image by amplifying the local details. I set Smoothing all the way left so it does not smooth out the contrast variations to again, add to that gritty look. But sometimes that does not work and some Smoothing is needed to prevent artifacts or an extreme artificial look.
Next, I play with white point and black point to make sure I have a pure point in each case. Here it only required adjustment of the black point. I lightened the entire image with Gamma set to 80 and finished with slight warming with the Temperature slider.
As I mentioned I like to Tone Map more than once and based on the image I have tone mapped anywhere from 2 times to 4x and again, it depends on the image. Each pass with Tone Mapping creates a more and more unreal illustrative look. I loved that in the early days of HDR but not so much anymore.
Here are the settings for the second pass at Tone Mapping. In this case I backed off the sliders and in particular Luminosity, Microcontrast, and Smoothing. I went up on color saturation slightly and then adjusted slightly the white and black points, Gamma, and temperature again. I noticed some artifacts getting heavy in the background so I added more Smoothing than before.
The finished image has a gritty grungy look and works for me, but I do recognize that some compromises comes with using HDR and Tone Mapping twice.
In the next three related posts we’ll look at other options for the gritty grungy look.
If you have an opinion, please leave a comment.