The first one is creating a photorealistic HDR image:
So, the first step was to artificially create three images with different exposures. I simply went to Photoshop Tool bar selecting Image > Adjustments > Exposure. Since I (you) already had/have the SOOC image with zero exposure, for the first image you need to changed the exposure to -2, and for the second to +2. Save each image. That way you get three images with different exposures.
The next step is to open the Mini Bridge and open those three images in it. Keep your images selected. Under Photoshop tool in the Mini Bridge, choose Merge to HDR Pro. In a bit the pop-up menu will show.
In the new menu, select Photorealistic (that will change to Custom after the next step, so when you see Custom, don’t worry). Now, in this section, change the numbers until you get the results you like. My numbers are depicted in the image below. If you want, you can check the Remove Ghosts box so you can clearly see the changes.
Click on the OK button and wait until the image opens in Photoshop.
The second editing step was to convert the image to black and white.
This step is easy and it’s nothing new to those of you who have been reading my blog for a while. I used this gradient map method to convert the HDR image to black and white. Read How to Get a High Contrast Black and White Image to see a step-by-step tutorial. Again, play with the tones until you are happy with the result. Sharpen as necessary.
The third and final step was to frame this B&W HDR Santa.
I opted to use Rita’s vintage frame #14 which also applies a texture to your photo making it a little bit brighter and adds a vintage feel to it. I rotated the frame to a landscape instead of a portrait frame it came in.