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.

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