Photo by Brian Auer showing (L) under exposed, (M) over exposed, and (R) exposure blended image using Martin’s action.
Most people find the outcome of my little action to be very similar to Photomatix… certainly cheaper… and I think a bit easier since you just mouse click away. I don’t charge for this action as re-payment for all the people who helped me along the way.
Put the camera in Aperture Priority or Manual and set to your preferred f-stop and ISO. Use auto-bracketing to take three frames with different exposures: normal, under exposed, and over exposed. Make sure the auto-bracket is set so the images are at least 1.5 stops apart from normal.
The following notes are also embedded in the action to prompt you.
Prepare a file with two images labeled as Under and Over Exposed. Place both the under exposed and over exposed image in a new Photoshop file. Neither file should be locked as a background layers, so unlock any background layer by double clicking on them. Make sure the over exposed layer is labeled as such and sits on top of the under exposed file.
In the end you will get 3 image version to choose from:
1) The basic Composite or exposure blend
2) the same composite with shadow recovery applied
3) The shadow recovery image with soft light blend applied for more contrast.
You then take your final image and apply noise reduction if needed and then sharpen.
Install this Action in your Photoshop program (see sample at the end). Run the action, and then “paint away” the shine from the areas that offend your sensibilities. Paint away distracting shines from flash on nose, cheeks, foreheads.
Most people leave shines on hair and lips and pupils. This will be done by creating a second duplicate layer over your original layer. Then you can brush in the amount of “shine removal” that you want. Here are the steps to follow for removing the shine, AFTER the action is run.
1) A new adjusted layer is placed above your original, and is masked (blacked) out.
2) While viewing at 100%, select a soft WHITE brush, Set the brush so it is slightly larger than the shine area, and Set brush opacity to 30% opacity
3) Then paint over the shine…on the black layer mask.
4) For real finesse, select the layer mask by holding down the Command Key and click on the layer MASK. This will make the selection come alive with marching ants. Then apply a Gaussian blur of about 4 to this mask to soften the edges.