Beyond Forgetting 11:42pm, 17 January 2007
What is the easiest program out there when one ventures into this thing called HDR? & what in your opinion is the best available at this time? I am going to use my Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens and see what it could do.

Many, many thanks.
All Glass Photo 15 years ago
If you've got Photoshop CS2 (I think CS2 is the only version that does this) you can make HDR's with that. A better solution is photomatix. It's a piece of cake to use and not very expensive to buy. here's a tutorial.
Ben McLeod 15 years ago
Have you seen 99.9999999999999% of the HDR people post? And you still want to do it? Most HDR looks like it belongs on black velvet.

Photoshop has a "Merge to HDR..." tool.
i'll second a vote for photomatix. easy to use and the results are much better. you can also use a single raw file to automatically make 3 exposures.
johndohrn 15 years ago
photoshop's HDR blows. I always end up using masks manually to do HDR because it sucks so bad
@brett in japan: making 3 images from a single RAW file is not the same as taking 3 real separate exposures. You cannot do HDRI from one file.
resmith85 15 years ago
I third the motion for Photomatix. And HDR does not have to look like an acid trip. Venture on!
Ben McLeod 15 years ago
What CSG said.

Why would you possibly want to make a HDR from a single exposure? Why not just tweak the image in a RAW converter to show more shadow and highlight detail? It won't look as cheesy as HDR.
ad hoc horse [deleted] Posted 15 years ago. Edited by ad hoc horse (member) 15 years ago
> It won't look as cheesy as HDR

The exact word, thank you. I've a friend who's addicted to HDR pictures and I've been trying to put my finger on why I don't like them. Now I know - it's because they're cheesy!

robability 15 years ago
If you do HDR, please do it subtly (especially sublty with the haloing).
Ryan Brenizer 15 years ago
There is a proper way to do HDR, and it's anything but easy. The extreme, button-click tone-mapping is going to be this era's version of New Kids on the Block -- countless people will look back and say "what were we *thinking*?"
photofarmer 15 years ago
Sounds like everyone doesn't like HDR. I don't either, but "de gustibus non est disputandem" (or something like that -- my latin classes were a long long long time ago -- it means "everyone has bad taste except me").

So let people do HDR if they want to. (Just so they note it in the title so we don't have to look at it).
Beyond Forgetting 15 years ago
Many went to the places that Ansel Adams took his pictures hoping to recapture or even approach or duplicate what he did. The secret is not in the place or the waiting for a hope for scene. The secret is in the darkroom technique.
sorry i thought the OP was asking about software to use not opinions about HDR.

I know using a single raw file isn't true HDR but you can squeeze -1 0 +1 out of a raw which is all a lot of people bracket anyway. I mostly use the shadow highlight feature in photomatix with 2 exp as i find this gets more natural results than doing HDR.

here's a HDR that I like because i visited here in the middle of the day in the middle of summer and all my single exp shots burned my eyes. I'm sure it probably looks like shit to all you HDR haters and i can see it needs some work on the halos on the tree line but learning HDR helped me learn a lot about exposures and metering.

Ben McLeod Posted 15 years ago. Edited by Ben McLeod (member) 15 years ago
I totally agree (with PhotoFarmer). Do what you want - it's your life, just ask yourself, "will my future-self be disgusted with what I'm about to do?"

My future-self, now my present-self, is totally disgusted with my past-self's foray into the ugly-ass world of HDR. I mean, really, what was I thinking?! I might as well have had a mullet and been driving an IROC!

I originally did it because I was under the false impression that my dSLR (a D200) doesn't capture a wide dynamic range. I was wrong. It does. I just have to - as I stated previously - tweak the RAW a bit to show more shadow and highlight detail.
Beyond Forgetting 15 years ago
What brought me to the HDR is because of my disatisfaction with the lenses that I used ... that it seems to me they are unable to give me all the details that I am looking for ... that in my endless search for such a lens I finally discover that it is not the fault of the lens but that the full spectrum and range of detail needs a software to display it before our eyes.
@brett in japan and photofarmer: I don't hate HDR. I do it all the time.

What I'm saying is use HDRI when it's appropriate. BTW, brett, that's a lovely image.
brett in japan (back in Australia) Posted 15 years ago. Edited by brett in japan (back in Australia) (member) 15 years ago
wow i can see why you don't like HDR. They really sucked.

future-self , present self? settle down dr phil it's just a photo that you and probably no one else will care about in a year and if it's that painful a memory why not just delete it. LIke all painful memories time will heal. Also i hear mullets are popular in argentina these days.

@compute science geek, sorry wasn't referring to you.

I just don't get it, this is flickr, photography for most is JUST A HOBBY so who really cares what someone else is doing. let people experiment with different techniques (like yourself) and they'll find what works best for them.

@beyond forgetting, here's a useful link with a heap of information
as i see it, it's just another tool that can be used in some situations but certainly not for all. If i averaged it out i would say 1 out of every 500 shots i take is a HDR. also try out the shadow highlight feature in photomatix. It's easy if you don't know how to do masks in photoshop.
righteous teaching [deleted] 15 years ago
To the original topic I have heard PS CS2 can do it and there are some propietary HDR softwares floating about like the one from Photomatix. Thats all I know.

I am still to experiment with HDR and it is definitely on my list of things to do this year just because I think it can teach me a lot about my camera even if it will be about as cool as Hypercolour T-shirts or Yo Yo Balls in a few years.
Letsemgo 15 years ago, try this flickr group and read in or post in their discussion
nicoatridge Posted 15 years ago. Edited by nicoatridge (member) 15 years ago
Old Plymouth
I thought HDR simply meant High Dynamic range, i.e. playing with more than the 5 or 6 stops a DSLR normally gives you and trying to get nearer the 10 you would have got out of Kodachrome or B&W film photography. Whether you're going to lazily batch it through Photomatix, make it look like you're on LSD (below) or work on creating an "authentic" image (above) is a matter of personal choice, but if you have extended the dynamic range i call that HDR. I like Photomatix and I do think it can be fun using it with just one JPEG or RAW, although strictly speaking it's not HDR and you could get pretty much the same outcome fiddling around with highlights and shadows in your favourite digital darkroom.
Hoboken rooftops
I don't mind people using HDR techniques but sometimes I do get tired of everthing looking like it comes from a high gloss magazine ad.
LebronPhoto 15 years ago
I've seen some HDR images that look realistic, and others that look like they belong on the cover of a Video Game. I think it's all a matter of what the image is intended for. There is a place for both realistic photos and surreal looking images.
MerlinsMan 15 years ago
The problem in HDR is in the down-sampling from 32-bit HDR to regular 16-bit. The default "highlight compression" method in PS CS2 gives the familiar HDR look that so many dislike. The "exposure/gamma" method gives something very like a standard image right out of the raw converter - just standard 16-bit dynamic range albeit with ideal exposure and contrast.

Now imagine you could use a mask to vary the exposure/gamma across the image (think split neutral density filter with contour exactlly matching the skyline in your shot). That would be great. I've been able to simulate this in city skylines where I could just select the sky with the polygonal lasso tool. Unfortunately that's about the only selection method CS2 provides in HDR mode. When they add more flexibility, HDR will become a very useful way of making normal-looking images without blown-out regions. Until then, we have to do it manually with sandwitched layers having different exposures.
acceptable instrument [deleted] 15 years ago
@beyond forgetting. Ansel Adams would disagree with you. According to him, it's in three stages the exposure, the developing and the printing. Only two of these are darkroom techinques.
James Kaarremaa Posted 15 years ago. Edited by James Kaarremaa (member) 15 years ago
I too don't like HDR in general. I have seen a few images that actually capture a higher dynamic range rather than a scene from the Wizard of Oz though. I've tried it once at night and gotten something realistic and with more dynamic range but nothing I couldn't have done other ways. I'm going to experiment some more with it sometime but only in situations where I feel it might work.

@nicoatridge: Love your car pic.

I like this image that I came across quite a while ago. It shows exactly what HDR should be doing. Balancing out the difference between the dark inside and bright outside.

tychay Posted 15 years ago. Edited by tychay (member) 15 years ago
@photofarmer: I think it translates closer to "There will be no arguing from taste" (gustibus = like gustatory, disputandum = like disputing). But your meaning is spot on: taste is subjective.

Back to the point. I tried Photoshop HDR and decided it seems to work okay for manmade structures but it’s really hard to use in natural settings. Nor those cases, if you try to recover more than an extra stop in each direction it will start looking very artificial and you're better off with digital blending.

Please read the link above if you want to here me arguing with taste. :-)
James Kaarremaa Posted 15 years ago. Edited by James Kaarremaa (member) 15 years ago
Great article on HDR. It's bang on. A lot of people do claim that HDR captures what your eye can see even when the photo looks like a painting. HDR is an artistic decision and it is very easy to do which is probably why so many people choose that method. HDR can work how it's intended but in certain situations it shows its flaws (trees, clouds, etc.)
Beyond Forgetting 15 years ago
I agree with Perfection is a fault ... How could I have omitted the fact that I too am also a photographer, that Ansel Adam is a photographer...who uses a view camera... (let me reword this ... that I am a point and shoot guy) and uses the swing and the tilt ....which is too apparent ...( I use to do this with my Linhof) and only remember that he like me or I like him is a darkroom technician! ....( I remember my first work in America was as a Darkroom Specialist (Photography is my hobby ... not my profession) in Sta Ana ... @Perfection is a fault .... I agree with you fully .... sorry for omitting the apparent. I must be getting old... Ops ...... I am old.
MerlinsMan, have you tried the Local Adaption method in Photoshop CS2 when converting to16- or 8-bit mode? This is where Photoshop lets you control the effect. You must adjust the curve and use the histogram as a guide to see where to place and move the control points. You also have the option of changing the control points to corner points (there's a check box in the interface) if you need to isolate the curve so that it doesn't destroy areas that are correctly mapped.
acceptable instrument [deleted] 15 years ago
Not a problem Beyond Forgetting. Maybe you are just not beyond forgetting.

I as well used to use Linhoffs and also Cherry woods. I miss them dearly, apart from the weight and set up time. Much happier with a digital back on my MF's

I'm sure you own AA's three very informative (and expensive) books including the one on the zone system. I would love some HDR fans to try and get their heads around that. Hahaha
Franklin Anciano 15 years ago
Here's an HDR shot that I did.

Stockton Arena - Stockton, CA

I agree with some of you here, HDR shots shouldn't be a LSD-esque photo, but instead, a well balanced shot.
Mr Dave Esmond Posted 15 years ago. Edited by Mr Dave Esmond (member) 15 years ago
I've messed a bit with the HDR tools in PS. I like the results better in BW then in color. To me it's just one more tool and like anything the technique can result in images I'm not a personal fan of.

HDR has some serious limitations for me. The biggest for me being you can't really have anything moving in the frame. But with the right subject the results can be interesting.

I like the extended range of tones and detail in these two shots I did, but neither really works for me from a subject pov.

Dark Side Globe

Living Room Light

Adams books ARE good reads, and you can get any of 'em used for less then $10 here.

I found a strict use of the zone system a little too fussy and not really "right" fro my own vision of my own work when I shot film. And now that I've moved to digital I've had to learn new ways of doing old things. At first I shot everything too dark beacuse I was trying to still expose the way I did for film. Like learning to shoot film I'm learning digital technique by shooting and "developing" a lot of shots.

In the end, for me, HDR is a useful technique for certain subjects and a certain look. And the tools built into PS were good enough for me to experiment with. I learned a few tricks I can use if I ever come back to HDR ( I had the best results when I made 3-4 exposures, one each for the blacks, midtones and whites. I never just found the ""correct" exposure and then did a few more a stop or 2 darker and lighter. Sometimes I'd need only a stop lighter but one 3 stops darker to get the best detail for instance ).
SEngstrom 15 years ago
It makes good sense to me to use a single raw for HDR if you are so inclined. As I understand it HDR software usually works with the concept of local contrast so that it does things that you cannot achieve with global edits.
The final image has to be squeezed into 8-bits to be shown here and there is a bit of headroom in a single raw to make it a meaningful exercise.
LebronPhoto 15 years ago

This technique of using a single raw file was published in an atricle in Digital Photo magazine a few months back. The effect on the photo they used was impressive. It was a photo of a subway tunnel. The result was a realistic photo, well exposed in all areas. I believe they started with a raw file, changed the exposure up and down and created two additional images, then they used the three images and a mask to create the HDR.
8thcross 15 years ago
Thanks for pointing this - i have been doing this for a while now, and had even blogged about it a while back....anyways, now i know that others have been doing it as well.
Here is an example:
Mr Dave Esmond 15 years ago
Using a single image and masks is good way to go. But I'm not convinced it can give the same results as using multiple exposures. I don't think I could have shot the globe photo above in a way that I wouldn't have lost detail in either the darks or lights. And if the detail isn't there no amount of post work is gonna bring it back.


Maybe using multiple exposures and masks is a sort of best of both worlds solution that avoids the pitfalls of multiple or single image HDR all together. At least it seems to work much better for me.
shashchatter 15 years ago
Most definitely three or more bracketed exposures can provide you with way more dynamic range than a single exposure can. However, the real use of single-image HDR processing is in at least two areas that you can't do with the bracketed ones. First, is obviously, if you did not bracket and only have one exposure :-). More importantly, if there is any subject motion whatsoever, then you cannot do multi-exposure HDR (even though software can align for slight motion, it is really very small amount of motion that can be adjusted).

Here's an example where without HDR I could not balance between the sunlit blue building and the car in the shadow. I did bracket, but there was a van in the street that showed up and the other exposures were unusable. HDR made it usable, but there still some halo that I do not like.
Beyond Forgetting Posted 15 years ago. Edited by Beyond Forgetting (member) 15 years ago
You have a digital back for a MF camera ??? That is about $22,000 just for the back on a Hasselblad alone! & this is suppose to be the smallest .... the bigger one must cost equal to a Hummer!
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