Once Photomatix Pro 5 opens a set of bracketed images, especially in Tone Compressor, the choices of controls is kind of intimidating. The first question that comes to mind is “Where in the world do I start???” The answer? Presets.

Quick start: Photomatix Pro

Before jumping into presets, here’s a quick start for opening a series of bracketed photos. The graphic that follows shows the series of dialogs to navigate to merge photos into an HDR file.

  1. Drag a set of images made at least one stop apart into the Photomatix Pro dialog.
  2. Tell Photomatix to Merge for HDR Tone Mapping and Fusion by clicking OK.
  3. Choose the files by clicking OK in this dialog. Leave Show 32-bit unprocessed image unchecked.
  4. Tell Photomatix how you made the brackets. There are settings to help if you hand held the camera instead of using a tripod. When these choices are made, click Align & Merge to HDR.

Photomatix Presets by Kevin Ames-001

Photomatix Presets

The presets included in Photomatix Pro 5 give even the newest user a solid foundation of starting places. They range from Natural & Photographic to Surreal, Grunge & BW Natural along with many more. Here’s how to use them.

A quick glance at the left hand sidebar shows the scary number of controls. These are not as mysterious as they could be. Hover your cursor over any of them and a dialog appears explaining what that slider does. The problem for anyone starting out is, well…. where to start. That’s where the presets are really useful. Preset previews for the HDR in the main display space are shown in the right sidebar. Find one that intrigues you then click it. The main window updates as do the controls in the left sidebar. A list of presets is in the dropdown menu. Categories include Artistic, Realistic, Architecture, and Black & White. The menu also sorts presets by the four styles of HDR processing Photomatix Pro offers. They are: Details Enhancer, Contrast Optimizer, Tone Compressor and Fusion. At the bottom of the preset thumbnails is a toggle to switch between the built in presets and ones you make yourself.

Photomatix Presets by Kevin Ames-007


Below is a gallery of the Blessing Tire building that I made using some of the Photomatix presets. Click any image to enter a slideshow. The version that leads this post was processed using a preset I created. It’s called Fierce Clouds.

Good beginnings

Picking a preset isn’t the end of Photomatix creativity. It’s a beginning. Explore the sliders, reading the info that each one offers. Before long you’ll know a lot more about how this powerful HDR processor works. You’ll be creating your own presets too along with compelling photographs!