Faking an HDR Portrait

dekePod Episode 007: Well, friends, it's getting to be Halloween, that bestest of holidays, the one made famous by Linus and Jamie Lee Curtis. And you know what that means: Another traditional early-October Halloween episode of dekePod. (Well, the first one, but you have to start somewhere.) This year, I celebrate the spookiness of the season by showing you how to fake an HDR portrait in Photoshop. Perhaps you've seen others demo fake HDR. Now see me do it. Here's the official marketing description:

Think nothing can scare you? Enter dekePod, that thing that is not even slightly scary and yet, be honest, gives you the heebie jeebies. In this episode, Deke investigates how to simulate an extreme-detail HDR portrait -- which would otherwise require you to shoot multiple exposures of a person locked down in a body brace -- using flimflam and forgery. And a shrunken skull. These are the depths of scariness we go to. Here at dekePod.

Keep an eye out for Reeky, the tiny skull whose eye pops out. Fun fact: Reeky's head is filled with bloody houseflies that leap into his protruding eyeball when you squish him. (Fake ones, but nonetheless icky.) Plus, he's made of that weird plastic that makes your hands stink. Doesn't he sound great? If you're interested in downloading it (the video, not the skull), try one of these links:

  • For a high-quality QuickTime movie, right-click here and choose Save Target or Download Link or the equivalent.
  • For an M4V file that you can play on an iPod, right-click here and choose one of those same commands.
  • Or you can subscribe to dekePod via RSS or iTunes.

You can also check out the page at my book publisher O'Reilly Media.

Oh hey, and keep an eye peeled (not filled with bloody flies, peeled) for a few frames of a photo of Thom Yorke and David Byrne. Captured and enhanced by James Day for Wired mag, this was the inspiration for my piece. James gave me permission to use his image. For which I say: Thanks, James -- you, Thom, and David rock.

(And lest that sound like a platitude, not so. If I was half so cool as the three of you put together, I'd be 150% as cool as any one of you. And really, as much as it might surprise you, I'd settle for that.)

The scientist image comes from photographer Aleksandra Alexis. Amazing, she.

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Hats off!!!

Thanks so much for this amazing tutorial, it's the sh*t! Seriously! There's so much bad videos circulating, this is amazing, plus you make us laugh. Cheers.

You make me crack up

You make me crack up Deke. lol
..can I also call you Dede? I knew you would ask... well it means Grand Dad in Turkish. I think it suits you, your style of tutoring and expertise.

I watched your tutorial above re Fake HDR and you sneaky little thing left out some small details. After watching about 1000 times (not exactly) I manage to write down the instructions step by step, and copied your son's picture and replicate it the effect my self. Whoofff . It worked!!

Anyone want the written detailed steps for the Fake HDR, contact me at www.oavs.com.au

Great stuff :-)

these pods will transform the deke-force of gobbligook

4 years of sobbing over the inane at lynda - wondering WHO is this guy - Quelle Horror ?- Staggering over to Orwig for love and understanding after days, weeks, nay years head banging to Deke the freak of the heavy geek creek my brain leak leaving me so meak - that i need to seek a peak tweak at the hookie cookie squeek.

But yay, BANG - what did they put in your drink ? - me thinks thee fell agog into the magic pod-tion - because i got every single god damn word you said in a single instant.

MORE, i say, Bravo , encore....



Looking by here and learn and see so many beautiful things. Keep Up!

Good Tips Deke

You did it very well deke. Thanks for sharing!

Deke's best comment

" Except I'm running Win Vista on 17' Macbook Pro" that was hilarious. So I'm questioned myself why? Perhaps because there is not good enough soft to capture screen as Sorenson. Could this be the answer? I'm not sure. Deke, can you comment why? Also can you compare the speed and reaction running PS CS4 on Vista compare to Mac. I guess you are running Boot Camp. Right?

Cheers for the info. It was

Cheers for the info. It was a good read.

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CS4 Turorials

As a rank beginner, I like to view the tutorials offered on the Creative Suite 4 disc. Reference is made to an 'Examples' folder. Where is it ? I can't find it on the Learning disc or on the CS4 disc or in any CS4 folders on my computer. Thanks


answer from tech support from adobe Adobe: We have not released training products for CS4 versions. Adobe: However, you'll receive free user guide with all features along with the purchase. Adobe Okay, ask him ( meaning you) to look for the help files in the software. Adobe: Or if he purchased download version software, he would've received a .PDF file as user guide. Btw. Adobe.tv has many tutorials including Deke's podcast + many more. Lynda.com offers 7 day trial but even without you can get some sneak peak preview. There are many tutorials on the web if you don't have any money. Even the devil UTUBE.


I`m Using Action Record in my projects but still have a problem, why action can not record the movement of the object, for example my photo in my scene located in X=234 and Y=456 and I want to change this location and recode it as an action but the action can not find it !!!! what can i do?

Provide sample and give more details

Here is what are common mistakes with actions and movement a) people do not record selecting the right layer b) if the layers are with different names the action will not work if you switch between multiple layer c) original size is different from the one in target composition - logically this is one of the most common problems people want to move object on composition with completely different proportions d) people are trying to move adjustment layers and mask you should provide the link the project and the action so we can have a look at it. Be more specific.

Very useful info. Hope to

Very useful info. Hope to see more posts soon!

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Awesome tech support, Archee!

You're exactly right -- those are the most likely problems. I have an entire 18-hour series devoted to Actions and Automation at lynda.com. And it is very detailed on the topics of best practices and troubleshooting. It's called Photoshop CS2 Actions and Automaton, but most of its still applies to the never versions of the software. Especially the sections about actions and JavaScript. (JavaScript, which is not that hard, is intensely useful in Photoshop.) Go to lynda.com/deke. Sign up for the free 7-day trial. Check it (and a million other things) out.

Actions and Automatios

BTW. For those who go through Deke's older stuff like actions and automation CS2 and using Deke's shortcuts after doing some CS4 and CS3 tutorials with Deke's magic tweaking make sure you set PS to default. or create new workspace, menu etc the same way Deke did in the old video. Here is the example why? Deke Action Yin an yang. Step 7 Gaussian Blur and PS replies the command Gaussian Blur is not currently available. . Well it's simple Deke hates adding layer mask by default. HE TOLD YOU THAT HUNDRED TIMES ALREADY AND HE TOLD YOU TO DISABLE IT TO SAVE SPACE RIGHT? AND HERE YOU GO IT WON'T WORK. PS can't apply filter on adjustment layer without the mask. So save yourself hustle and turn the layer mask back on or add layer mask manually each time you get the warning like this, then replay that step were you were warned. Repeat if that is going to happened again. Yes there are many actions on the web but each creator has his own presets including you. Don't get discouraged. Find the bug.

Using 'save' in actions

I definitely have to seek out Deke's Actions and Automations tutorials. The one thing that always trips me up when I create an action is saving the file as part of the action. I did a real estate shoot not so long ago - beautiful million dollar property at Lake Tarawera, and took a gazillion photos of the house and it's gorgeous location, all shot in RAW. After I'd selected the best 30-odd pics and processed them - I was to save them as jpegs to send through to the agency. So I created an action that included flattening, converting back to RGB, resizing and saving to jpeg. Everything worked except the saving - as each new file was saved as the first file name and so after all that, I had precisely one jpeg file. Luckily I still had the original psds and raw images, so I just deleted the save function in the action and did that manually for each one. It really made me feel like an idiot! :-/

I think I understand now

Maybe. I can't save a file as part of an action. I have to create the action - sans save - and then batch process, using the batch process dialogue box to choose a save destination and file naming protocol. Also, you were quite right about the Real World Actioneering chapter in your chapter intro; and because my mother never, ever said I could always eat ice-cream for breakfast, I feel at a disadvantage. This has caused my head to explode in one very messy action all over my desk. I now need therapy.

Re:I think I understand now new

You could create an action to save not save as as it won't ask you for name but even though actions will always ask you for give name to a layer or give name to a file. You could duplicate all your original photos and give them different names let say Original name + Mod and let PS to the magic on those and save them without save as. The new Bridge CS4 can also handle good auto saving and converting from raw in batch.

Thx I'm getting all red in my face

I have to somehow use the knowledge I have from you. BTW. LCD released the 1on1 Fundamentals. I urge everyone to check that out. Specially folks who didn't by your book. Also Deke did you ever manage to get out the workflow with the Smart objects. I remember you were asking your audience if they like to see the Sharpening and they said yes and then you asked if they want to see SO tutors. I'm not sure if that is your goal or not. We'll take everything you know. You are a good teacher.

Saving Back into Jpeg

I love this tutorial, but i cant save it back into a Jpeg without moving back to RGB, and then i have to rasterize the smart object and i loose the curves adjustment layer, anyone have any words of wisdom?

I'm pretty sure

...that jpeg doesn't support the Lab colourspace. But if you're saving to jpeg after doing all your editing, then perhaps you can save it as a copy after rasterising and flattening, and then go back to the state before you rasterised and flattened and save that to the orginal Lab.psd. And if you've worked completely nondestructively, then you'll benefit by having the original image as well as the layers in tact, plus the jpeg you need for whatever reason you needed a jpeg. Did that make any sense? ~ phantasing about photoshop pheatured Clifton Chenier's 'Ay-'Te Te Fee' (Uncut magazine has some great cds sometimes.)

Petra's right

JPEG doesn't support Lab or smart objects or . . . anything, really. Thanks for covering this, Petra!

The thanks is all mine, Deke

'Cos it was you who taught me this. :) Incidentally, I have a new 'puter now - spec built within economic reason - with Vista - and it's FAST! PSCS4 is working pretty good on it, though it's a big step...up?....left?....right? ahhh, hell, which ever way you look at it, it's different, and I have to rethink my playflow almost from go to [hopefully not] woe. My own questions will start to fly as I stumble upon things I do not yet understand, so I sincerely hope that anyone who has any idea will answer, with you as gatekeeper of 'best practice', etc. Beck's "The Information" made me write this. And that was a good drum break. }8^] Looking forward to that book, Deke! Thanks again... :-)

XP mode

Petra, you can turn Vista layout into XP style in screen properties. This way the transition can go smoothly. In case you need to work on something quickly and really want that old style. I also disable any kind of animation, icons that I don't need, wallpaper etc to get as many resources as possible. No matter what you have SO with smart filters will always take some time. The question is why that gentleman wanted to have JPG LAB anyway if he is not going to be able use it anyway. For further modification ? Keep PSD. For Print convert it into CMYK and use tiff or pdf or PSD. For friends and their lousy LCD screens flickering all over. 72 DPI only??? No need RGB is just fine. They wont see the difference unless they have calibrated screens, printers, brain etc. nice to have you all back It was a long weekend without everyone

Cheers, Archee

I actually don't mind the Vista layout, and managed to get more up to speed via some tutorials at...you guessed it...Lynda.com! Yay for Lynda Weinman and her supremely excellent team! But I am having some other probs - the system clock is running too fast, and the mouse is erratic despite my attempted tweakings. So this is hindering my experience of PSCS4, natch. But I shall overcome, and the celestial choir will sing hallelujah soon enough. Hope still springs eternal. :-) And now to go find a tutorial on brain calibration. I think I've been getting it wrong all these years. Heheh. ;-p


U going to make it. I suggest for any PS work get a Intuos 3tablet 8x6. You going to express more freedom. (if you can afford pen tablet display get that) It is going to help you with masking as well as other retouching with brush tool. Someone told me long time ago that Photoshop is nice soft but without brushes it's just half of what it can do. So imagine that the tablet is going to take to completely new dimensions. I would acctually like to see Deke if he ever commented on tablets and using them. You can actually watch some of the lcd videos with retouching in cs3. If you have one just ignore what I just wrote. BTW. the new book is up I guess. It looks like it.

Yup, got an Intuos3

It's currently buried beneath a pile of paperwork and old computer bits. I haven't connected it yet, because I'm still loading programs and drivers and tweaking settings, etc, as I find time. My blasted Microtek ScanMaker i900 was a pain in the brain to get working, for one. It's a great scanner, but crikey it can be a contrary child - always arguing. Just like my daughter, Zoe. Luckily Suicidal Tendencies "Institutionalized" is helping me through my angst. lol. :-D

You are going to love it.

You are going to love it and especially if you get into painting. (Painter X is the winner)

CS2 and smart objects

Just found your site today, awesome! I have CS2 and am trying to duplicate your feat with the Faking an HDR Portrait video. I cannot find "convert to smart object" but can find "group into new smart object" however, I cannot access any of the adjustment tools. I'm new to photoshop, be gentle! -MG

CS2 doesn't have smart objects like CS3 does

You'll have to upgrade. However, as I started with Deke's CS2 training videos, I can strongly recommend them. If you sign up with Lynda.com for a couple of months or so, you should be able to work your way through his CS2 dvd's without much pain. Good luck with your learning! :-)

Photoshop CS2 Training

I think Deke released his Photoshop CS2 'Dekeapedia' via Total Training. I remember buying them on Disc, and I agree with you Petra, they are awesome (especially the chapter introductions lol). He has a load more stuff available on Lynda.com for CS2 as well, but they're more specific to certain topics ie Actions and Automation (which is another awesome series that'll blow your mind!) Good luck!