Still in a holiday mood, I have been playing with Photomatix trying to convert “normal” pictures into high dynamic range pictures (HDR – read more here and here). At the moment, I am certainly not even up to the beginner standard but I have learned a few things in the last couple of hours. Simply put, HDR is taking multiple pictures of the same scene at different exposures, then combining these exposures to make a single image.
For simple HDR type images, the most common methods (on windows, Linux users get a different set of joy and I have no idea about Macs) are to use Photoshop or Photomatix. In newer versions of Photoshop you have the option to either play with layers and blend your images (can get fantastic results but can also be very hit and miss) or use the Merge to HDR option (File -> Automate -> Merge to HDR in CS3). Sadly, personally, I have never had much success with the automatic option but you might manage it.
Alternatively there is a bit of software called Photomatix (Pro costs $99, Basic is Free) which does a similar job but includes “Tone Mapping.” Peter Hasitschka’s page gives more details (along with some fantastic images) so I wont go into detail here. Needless to say, the tone mapping can give you some amazing results, although I have only been playing with this for the last 30 minutes or so. So far it is worth every penny. Continue reading