Photomatix Pro

Thoughts on Single Image HDR using Photomatix Pro

I am taking a video course with Moose Peterson called Romancing the Landscape.  The class is about a year old and one of the many things I am learning is the tip to handle very flat landscape light before getting to your regular post processing workflow using single image HDR with Photomatix Pro.  I know you can do single image HDR with other products, but I thought I would get a trial version and see what I could do with it based on what I was learning from Moose.

This shot is from last fall and shot with the Hasselblad, wide open with very flat depth of field and originally very flat and very blue light.  This single image HDR from Photomatix Pro is a preset called Photographic 4, saved as a TIF, cataloged in Lightroom and then exported as a much smaller JPEG.  I could certainly have spent more time editing it but I wanted to use this as an example of how single image HDR can really make colours pop.  

This image was shot in Seattle this past spring on a drenching rainy day where the sky was literally that grey and the light was very flat.  Single image HDR pulled detail out of the sidewalk on the left and under the tents on the right, that was really much darker in the original raw file.  Again, I just picked a preset called Monochrome 1 and did no other editing.  Some more work would improve the photo but I got probably 85% of the way to where I would want to be in a single step.

The last image is a composite, multiple images layered together.  Then the entire composite out of Photoshop was driven through Photomatix Pro as a single image HDR using the Surreal preset.  This is intentional, many people think of this look when they hear the acronym HDR and it is specifically what I wanted to achieve, an unreal look to an unreal image.

HDR is most often thought of as a series of composite images where a fair bit of work is required to make the final really stand out.  Take a look at Bryan's class for more information.  What I hoped to share here is how much you can actually accomplish with a single image HDR and a tool focused on HDR work.  


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