Share this post with your friends:
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Get the Most Dynamic Range from a Single Raw File

Do you like dynamic range?  Let’s put it this way, are you a fan of the Shadows and Highlights sliders?  Getting great tonal definition is a big part of making an excellent photo.

Pushing the Limits with HDR

Most people have mixed thoughts about HDR.  Some resist because of the extra steps of shooting bracketed photos.  Others had the over-the-top look practiced by some artists and abused by many.  Don’t worry, neither of those problems exist in this workflow.  I’m going to show you how to get the most out of a single raw file.

What You Need

There’s not much you’ll need to pull this off.

  1. A camera that can shoot raw photos or a raw image you already captured.
  2. HDRsoft’s Photomatix Pro or Photomatix Essentials.  You can get a free trial here (http://www.hdrsoft.com/download.html).
  3. A Mac or PC.
One look from Photomatix Pro
One look from Photomatix Pro

The Workflow for Photomatix Pro

Photomatix Pro is the big brother and powerhouse from HDRsoft.  It has a ton of tools for professionals working with HDR images…  but the workflow from a single raw photo is a snap.

  1. Launch Photomatix Pro
  2. Choose File > Open and select a single raw photo.
    raw
  3. In the Raw Processing dialog choose to reduce noise and enable Exposure Fusion.  It’s also a good idea to set your white balance (I usually use what I shot).
  4. Click OK to convert the raw file.
  5. In the upper-right corner choose the Realistic preset category.
    pro
  6. Experiment with presets to find one you like.
  7. Refine the controls for the tone mapping to refine your dynamic range.
  8. Click Apply.
  9. Use the Finishing Touches options if you’d like to refine the image (Utilities > Finishing Touches).
    touches
  10. Choose File>Save when finished.
One look from Photomatix Essentials
One look from Photomatix Essentials

The Workflow for Photomatix Essentials

Working in Photomatix Essentials is quite easy.  It takes a guided workflow for a less experienced user.

  1. Launch Photomatix Essentials
  2. Drag and Drop the file in the window or click the Browse button to choose a photo.
  3. Click the Next:Adjust & Preview button.
  4. Experiment with the presets in the right column or clicking the presets buttons in the upper left. Experiment with presets to find one you like.
    presetses
  5. Refine the Settings for the tone mapping to refine your dynamic range.
  6. Click Next:Finish & Save.
  7. Click Yes to reduce noise in the raw file.
  8. Use the Finishing Touches to Sharpen and add Contrast.
    finishes
  9. Click Save when finished.

Evaluating the Results

Whether you love or loathe HDR, you can’t argue with the results.  HDRsoft does a superior job of maximizing the details in a single raw file.  The exposure fusion options in Photomatix Pro are my favorite, but both tools did a great job.  Remember there are a wealth of options available inside, so you can choose your own version of dynamic range.  If you’re into black and white photography, its an excellent tool too (but more on that another day).

options-9

Share this post with your friends:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

You might also like:

Thanks to our partners who make Photofocus possible:

Drobo – Drobo is the smartest storage solution in the world. Drobo is storage that protects data — photos, videos and everything else — from hard drive failure. Drobo is peace of mind for the working pro or serious amateur who have a lot of external drives cluttering up the desktop. Save 10% with the coupon code PHOTOFOCUS.

Lume Cube – Proudly known as the World’s Most Versatile Light™, Lume Cube represents the future of LED Lighting. Check out the new Lume Cube STROBE, offering anti-collison lighting for drones!

Backblaze – Get peace of mind knowing your files are backed up securely in the cloud. Back up your Mac or PC just $6/month.

B&H – B&H is a world renowned supplier of all the gear photographers, videographers, and cinematographers need and want to create their very best work.

Skylum – Your photos, more beautiful in minutes. Makers of Luminar, Aurora and Photolemur, Skylum adapts to your style and skill level. Check out the new Luminar 3, now available.

Perfectly Clear Complete – Built for precision. Made for beauty. Perfectly Clear has mastered the science of intelligent image correction – creating superior quality photos in record time, so you can get back to doing what you really love…in no time. Special Photofocus deal here.

Viewbug – Learn and improve your photography with over 500 videos. Trusted by millions around the world, join over 2 million photographers who already use Viewbug.