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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> HDR Processing
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04/17/2008 03:24:56 PM · #1
Hey, I'm curious what people are using to produce the best HDR images. I have Photomatix Pro, and CS3, are there other interesting photoshop plug-ins or third party software that I should be interested in? Thanks!
04/17/2008 03:44:33 PM · #2
Photomatix Pro. It produces everything from great to horrid depending on how you set the myriad controls.
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Message edited by author 2008-04-17 15:46:07.
04/17/2008 04:39:44 PM · #3
Is there a good starting point for those settings?
04/17/2008 05:11:23 PM · #4
Originally posted by ScottFrankPhotos:

Is there a good starting point for those settings?


It has defaults. I usually increase the microcontrast and the saturation. I often reduce the strength a bit, especially when halos are a problem. Just avoid shoving all the sliders to full power (unless you like a cartoon look). Also in some cases there just isn't a way to get tone mapping to look right (too many halos) and in that case use the Exposure Blending mode instead of Tone Mapping. No halos, but the picture looks flatter. But then I use USM with a wide radius and curve adjustment in Photoshop to get some "pop".
04/17/2008 05:32:48 PM · #5
Thanks for all the information! I'm trying to better myself in HDR. I love the color and detail!
04/18/2008 03:17:54 AM · #6
I use a piece of software called Dynamic Photo HDR, aside from Photomatix Pro. I really like Dynamic Photo-- It gives you a huge range of options so you can create realistic HDRs to the surreal HDRs.
04/18/2008 03:26:03 AM · #7
I swear I must be stupid. Everyone is jumping onto the HDR bandwagon however I am still struggling with getting anything from it. Seems whatever I do, I end up with an image exactly the same as my middle exposure image I started with. Is there a spell or special chant I need to perform? :/
04/18/2008 08:30:16 AM · #8
Originally posted by togtog:

I swear I must be stupid. Everyone is jumping onto the HDR bandwagon however I am still struggling with getting anything from it. Seems whatever I do, I end up with an image exactly the same as my middle exposure image I started with. Is there a spell or special chant I need to perform? :/


Are you using multiple (bracketed) exposures? Or a single exposure converted multiple times? (the latter works, but the former is much better)

Does the image itself have a wide range of light (high dynamic range)? HDR really comes into play when you have an image where you can't fit both the highlights and shadow details into the same image (normal processing will either blow the highlights or push the shadows into black). So if you have a high dynamic range scene ... all that's left is to combine the details from both highlights and shadows into a single image and there are multiple ways of doing that, from manually doing it with Photoshop and layers to using Photoshop's HDR (which I've never produced anything good with), to using stand alone products such as Photomatix.

I like Photomatix. It has lots of sliders which let you play with the image to get a feel for what happens with each adjustment.

For more specific help, you might want to try posting some images and showing what you get and asking for help in how others would process the images.

04/18/2008 08:41:37 AM · #9
Honestly, I know no one asking this but I tell you anyway... HDR programs very nice but I do my own HDR process with CS3. I don't use full image HDR but local areas only. I take raw pictures and way better results on highlighted areas to play with. I combine two images with layer (sometimes three) and have my own brushing wherever I need it. I have yet to produce an image that needs the full frame balance, but so far I like the way I do, It seems like less cheating somehow LOL
04/18/2008 08:44:18 AM · #10
There is also the beta version of Wukong. They are letting people download it but you are supposed to provide feedback. There is a loooooooong thread about it somewhere in the forums.......
04/18/2008 08:45:24 AM · #11
I did actually. I had three different exposures of the same scene. A sunset over a series of buildings. In one the buildings are bright and clear and the grass can be seen as green, the sky is overblown and white. The next, the buildings are shadowed but some detail still visable, and most details of the sky are visable with some overblown highlights, and finally the third the buildings were black and some of the sky was dark giving details to the previously overblown areas. I tried combining all three in photomatrix and after it did it's thing I got the mini window where I could pan around and as I did the exposure in the part of the image I was looking at was probably exposed. Then in the next stage the image appeared to be my middle shot, dark buildings and overblown highlights, and playing with the sliders all I could seem to do was strip the contrast from the image and make it dull. :/
04/18/2008 08:53:18 AM · #12
I have the latest version of Photomatix and the Beta of Wukong and I am not impressed with PM at all. I have a scene that Wukong smoked PM on. The PM version isn't even usable, while the Wukong software produced a very nice image. I have found that using Wukong as a RAW converter works very well also.
04/18/2008 10:18:42 AM · #13
Originally posted by togtog:

I swear I must be stupid. Everyone is jumping onto the HDR bandwagon however I am still struggling with getting anything from it. Seems whatever I do, I end up with an image exactly the same as my middle exposure image I started with. Is there a spell or special chant I need to perform? :/


Not every scene responds well to HDR. The scene needs a high dynamic range that doesn't get captured with a single exposure, and also needs something of interest that gets revealed. I take bracketed exposures of most everything now (the "film" is free!) and often just use the middle exposure. But I've got the others just in case.

Here's an non-traditional example of a shot that would be impossible without HDR because it has about an 11 stop dynamic range:

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04/18/2008 11:11:05 AM · #14
I will have to upload the three images in question so you can tell me if they even qualify, I'll update this reply when I have. :)
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