Change of pace

Good morning everyone!  Sorry for the week off (I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot lately).  Every time I think that my life should slow down, something else seems to come up!  If you don’t already, you can follow me over on my Facebook page, where I do have daily updates!

For today’s post I have something a bit different.  After reading Neil Kremer’s photo post a few days back, I learned of a new way to process HDRs using 32 bit processing and Lightroom 4 with a plugin from Photomatix.  This technique, which allows for outstanding tonal range without the complications from the HDR process like noise and halos, gives you ultra realistic HDRs that you can process using the Develop tab in Lightroom.  After that you can kick them over to Photoshop to run them through whatever filters you like, but your starting point is much, much different than if you were to use Photomatix alone.

The process is quite simple.  After making sure that you’ve upgraded to LR 4.1 and downloaded the plugin you are ready to begin.  Just select the bracketed photos in your LR library, control or right click and select Merge to 32 bit HDR.  Lightroom will do the processing and place the new, 32 bit image in your library, either among the bracketed shots or at the very end of the folder.  Hit the Develop tab and make any necessary adjustments.  I’ve found that most of the raw HDRs have been underexposed, so I’ve been upping the exposure by about 0.5.  You can then pull back the highlights and shadows using the appropriate sliders in LR.  Export to PS to make an final edits and you’ve got yourself a great HDR!

In this series of images, the first one was processed using the technique described above while the second was using the standalone Photomatix application.  I’m a believer!

Here you can see the highlights are much more under control.


The halo and banding in the sky is gone.

The clouds don’t look as dirty.

So, even without any other post processing (no filters were applied to the first image in every set), they still just look better.  I still have a bit of work to do in refining the technique, but I am very impressed thus far!

Thanks for stopping by today everyone!

  • Rich McPeek - September 18, 2012 - 8:17 am

    Very cool Dave! Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Steven Perlmutter - September 18, 2012 - 9:55 am

    I’ve been hearing about this technique more and more lately, and may need to give it a try. Thanks for the informative post Dave.ReplyCancel

  • ABarlow - September 18, 2012 - 10:28 am

    This is pretty much the way that I have been doing it all along. I just figured it was the right way of doing it :)

    I do usually make minor adjustments first in each image such as color and what not. Usually in one of the frames – depending on the exposure – I will bump up some noise reduction.ReplyCancel

  • Mike Criswell - September 18, 2012 - 12:07 pm

    Interesting stuff Dave I will have to check it out, nice comparisonsReplyCancel

  • Jimi Jones - September 19, 2012 - 7:38 am

    These look great, Dave. One of the reasons I went away from Photomatix for HDR Efex was the often dirty finish and banding that had to be cleaned up afterward. This technique is a sure winner.

    Great shots, man.ReplyCancel

  • Anne McKinnell - September 19, 2012 - 12:51 pm

    Hi Dave, I was a little confused at first because your description above the first image says “the first one was processed using the standalone Photomatix plugin while the second was using the technique described above.” But its the other way around isn’t it? It’s the top photo in each of the pairs that was processed the way you are describing?

    I’m surprised it makes such a difference using the two techniques when they are both photomatix. I’m using photomatix too but using yet another technique (I think?). I use a lightroom export plugin to export to photomatix, I make the hdr there, and then export it back into lightroom. Maybe that is the same thing as stand alone photomatix. Hmmm… now you have me thinking about getting the lightroom version. I wonder why it makes such a difference.

    Thank you for such an interesting post.ReplyCancel

    • Dave DiCello - September 19, 2012 - 1:48 pm

      Hi Anne…thanks for your comment! Yes, you are correct, I had it backwards. I’ve used your technique as well, and it is pretty much the same as just using the standalone app. The main difference is there really is no tonemapping step. LR is able to generate the 32 bit TIFF and then I make the edits there. It is definitely worth the plug in to see if you like the results!ReplyCancel

  • Toad Hollow Photography - September 19, 2012 - 9:46 pm

    Wow, Dave, I am blown away! Great post and really, really great images!ReplyCancel

  • Bernie Marcus - September 20, 2012 - 1:31 am

    Wow, the images look spectacular! The technique you have used to process the images is an awesome one. I will definitely give it a try.ReplyCancel

  • Edith Levy - September 20, 2012 - 4:00 pm

    Wow I think I’m going to have to try this. The images look unbelievable.ReplyCancel

  • Mike - September 21, 2012 - 7:14 pm

    These are so nice.ReplyCancel

  • […] Change of pace – Dave DiCello discusses a new way of processing HDR photographs that is producing rather startling results.  Dave shows example images from the same set of brackets using two different methods, delivering images that are truly a notch above. […]ReplyCancel

  • More Natural HDR « burnt embers - September 28, 2012 - 3:41 am

    […] photographs and blogs that the Toad finds interesting. He included a link to Dave DiCello’s blog about a new HDR plug-in (Merge to 32-bit HDR Plug-in) for Lightroom 4 which allows for manipulation […]ReplyCancel

  • LensScaper - September 28, 2012 - 3:40 pm

    The difference in the two top pairs of images is really remarkable. To my mind it’s a no-brainer as to which looks best.ReplyCancel

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