HDRsoft Photomatix Light 1.0

HDRsoft has released a more affordable version of its popular Photomatix software.  The new version is called “Photomatix Light.”

Photomatix Light 1.0 is available for $39 via instant download from HDRsoft.com. Photomatix Pro will run you $99.

Photomatix Light 1.0 is a standalone application that provides HDR tone mapping, exposure fusion and automatic alignment of hand-held photos. [Read more...]

HDR Poll Results – Lightroom vs. Photomatix

Last week, I showed you a couple of images that I processed with a goal of creating an extended dynamic range.  One was processed in Lightroom from a single image and one was processed from three separate images in Photomatix to create an HDR image.  This grew largely from an experiment with a Canon 5D Mark II RAW file to see how far I could push the dynamic range from a single file in Lightroom 2.5.  Nothing scientific.  Just a little fun.

If you missed it, here is the original post.

To make things a little more interesting, I posted both images with metadata stripped and asked you to decide which was a single image processed in Lightroom and which was a combination of 3 images processed in Photomatix. Take a look at the results of that poll below. [Read more...]

Poll and Questions: HDR Images

I have recently began a process of reviewing the Photomatix HDR software.  Having never previously used any dedicated HDR software, I was very eager to see the results that Photomatix produced.

After using it a little, I very impressed at how automatically it creates an HDR image out of multiple exposures (although there is still an art to getting the most out of it).  You can even export images directly from Lightroom 2 to Photomatix and then automatically re-import them into your Lightroom library.  Pretty cool stuff.

Armed with a Canon 5D Mark II, 17-40mm f/4L lens and some inspiration from Michael James’ HDR Real Estate Photography, I set out to find an appropriate indoor setting to give Photomatix a little test drive.

In the set-up below, I shot 3 images at -2EV, 0EV and +2EV from a tripod. The scene was lit by the two lamps you see and a ceiling fixture only.  I then combined them in Photomatix via the LR plugin to create an HDR image.  I was pleased with the initial results.  I thought I had a rather realistic-looking HDR image.

Then, I started thinking…  How much can I get out of a single Canon 5D Mark II Raw file by processing in LR alone?

So, I took one of the exposures (I’m not saying which one) and pushed it as far as I could in LR to try to get as close as I could to the Photomatix HDR image.

The results?  I was pretty impressed.

One of the following images was processed in LR 2.5 from a single exposure.  One was processed from 3 images using Photomatix.

This wasn’t meant to be a scientific test and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still learning my way around Photomatix.  Additionally, some of you LR wizards out there can probably push the software even further. Just some nice weekend fun time with a camera that I wanted to share with all of you.

Can you tell you tell which is which? Insert your answer in the poll at the bottom and/or leave comment with your thoughts.

(I stripped all of the metadata in case you are thinking about taking a peek and I flipped a coin to decide which one to insert first)

Got something to say about these images? How do you process HDR images? What’s your take on HDR imagery as a genre?

Add your further thoughts in the comments below.

UPDATE:  You can find the poll results here, along with some commentary on the exposures.  Don’t cheat though.  Vote first, then check out the results to see if you got it right.

How To: Single-Image HDR

The following post on HDR photography is by Atlanta based photographer Zach Matthews. Learn more about him at the end of this post.

Over on The Itinerant Angler forums, we’ve spent some time bad-mouthing HDR, and to some extent that is fair. When HDR is over done, it can result in a jacked up, unnatural image.

However, the fact remains that the human eye can see a lot broader dynamic range (meaning brights and darks) at the same time than a camera can. This is because the human eye can vary its “ISO” or exposure sensitivity locally in just one area rather than only across the whole image. This is what allows you to see the inside of a darkened room as well as the brightly lit world out the window at the same time. A camera could only see one or the other.

We have a number of situations in streamside photography (the area most of us work in – but don’t think this technique is limited to that) where we need a broader dynamic range than the equipment allows. The classic situation is one of side light, where light from beside the subject is lighting it (usually a person casting) beautifully, but the background is dark. At times, this can look unnatural. [Read more...]