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Step-By-Step Tutorial On Making HDR Bracelet Photos For Shop@AKAAWOL.com

So here is the project. I need photos of the friendship bracelets that I made, and that I’m about to load into Shop @ AKAAWOL.com, this website’s new shopping platform for my readers. (Keep an eye out for that to be launched soon, by the way!)

I want the photos to really pop with color and add some drama by having unusual backgrounds. Here I’m about to show you how I did it with open source solutions. If you’ve read my post ‘Long Live Open Source’, you’ll know more about it, including the fact that many of you may be switching from Adobe.

I began by taking some bracketed photos with a bracelet inside of an amethyst geode.
photo shoot setup for bracelet

I used the AE bracketing with three frames with 1.0EV+- on my Olympus Pen E-PM1. For non photo geeks, it basically means I got three pictures with different exposures that I intend to merge together to create a photo that has a greater depth of color. This is also known as High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. I shot these in raw to keep more of the camera information and because of that we will be using Darktable for the next step.

So I launched Darktable and opened the folder containing my images. I then selected the three that I wish to merge by using the ‘Ctrl’ key as I clicked on each image, as shown here:

Darktable ready

Next I clicked the ‘Create HDR’ button in the top right-hand corner and this created a merged image as you can see. Yeah, it’s looking really green at the moment but we are going to fix that.
Darktabe merge
HDR green

So the next thing I’m going to play with is the white balance and adjust the ‘temperature in’ and ‘temperature out’ to help make up for how the camera saw this, thus making the color closer to the actual work I intend to sell. I find that it takes a bit of trial and error to find the balance you're looking for and that this is easiest if you hover over the bar you're either moving up or down and simply use the scroll wheel on the mouse, then if you are going to dial in the amount in smaller increments to use the up and down arrows.
Friendship bracelet looking better

Next I tweaked the exposure settings and made the ‘black’ slightly stronger and the exposure slightly lower.
exposure settings
Friendship bracelet looking even better

Happy with the way this had turned out, I saved the image by going back to the ‘light table’ and exported my work as a .jpg.

Now to launch another open source program - Gimp . From there I opened the image I created earlier to do some final touching up. The ‘despeckle’ function helped me to remove unwanted noise from the image.
Gimp menu
Gimp despeckle

So voila! Here is my final image:
Freandship bracelet read for the shop

It doesn’t take long to get the look you want with these tools and I’m sure with some time and practice we can all improve our skills in this. Have any tips? Please share them in the comments.

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