Nik HDR Efex vs. Photomatix

Nik vs Photomatix 1-12-13 Desktop (Large)If you don’t know what HDR photography is then read here. It’s my healthy addiction.

The photos above are a result of my experimenting; the results of which I initially thought were conclusive.But, just when you believe that one software package is superior to the other, then you find that the “loser” is able is do something that the “winner” is incapable of.

Trial software can be downloaded here:

Play with both, try, experiment and then when you get to an advanced stage start thinking about manual blending without either software package. Christopher O’Donnell kindly offers a free e-book in this regard – click here.

Want to learn from one of the HDR masters I follow closely? Then click here to get some free tutorials from Jimmy McIntyre.

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HDR photography if you have never heard of HDR

My HDR 1 was rock-bottom shocking (in a funny way). HDR 2 was an improvement. Since then I have developed a healthy addiction to HDR and post-processing (see Andy Confesses here). Most of my recent photos on this site are HDR or at least a fair attempt.

I am still on a big learning curve and the next goal is to become well-versed in Photoshop (I know a few basics only). One of my favourite artists in this field right now is Jimmy Mcintyre – click here. Plus Art Hakker also always grabs my eyes.

This post is dedicated to my beautiful life-partner who often wonders why I disappear from home for a few hours with my camera and then return home, only to sit in front of the computer for a few more hours.

The state of “meditation” I achieve staring at, fixing, mixing and creating the photos is very important to me. It nurtures and calms my soul. Nothing else is important at this time; neither pleasures nor worries.

To save time, let’s use Wikipedia’s explanation of HDR. I will also insert my set of images (only displaying 3 of the 9 used – exposures +4 to -4, ISO 100) and the final results (one shown below).

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The final results were achieved in 1.5 hours (post-processing time after the 9 photos were taken off the camera and loaded on the computer). Still lots of extra skills needed and I will have fun acquiring same in the years to come.

“High-dynamic-range imaging (HDRI or HDR) is a set of methods used in imaging and photography to capture a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging methods or photographic methods.

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HDR images can represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, from direct sunlight to faint starlight, and is often captured by way of a plurality of differently exposed pictures of the same subject matter.

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HDR methods provide higher dynamic range from the imaging process. Non-HDR cameras take pictures at one exposure level with a limited contrast range. This results in the loss of detail in bright or dark areas of a picture, depending on whether the camera had a low or high exposure setting. HDR compensates for this loss of detail by taking multiple pictures at different exposure levels and intelligently stitching them together to produce a picture that is representative in both dark and bright areas.

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HDR is also commonly used to refer to display of images derived from HDR imaging in a way that exaggerates contrast for artistic effect. The two main sources of HDR images are computer renderings and merging of multiple low-dynamic-range (LDR)[4] or standard-dynamic-range (SDR)[5] photographs. Tone mapping methods, which reduce overall contrast to facilitate display of HDR images on devices with lower dynamic range, can be applied to produce images with preserved or exaggerated local contrast for artistic effect.

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It’s gonna take some comparing

It’s gonna take some comparing to tell if the first set of photos at this location HDR 3 (high dynamic range) final have been improved on.

So if you have a minute, click on HDR 3 (high dynamic range) final, view the photos and then look below to see if the last 2 months of dabbling in HDR has reaped any positives (the quality of the HDR not the shot or view).

I’m using a Canon 550D with standard 18/55mm. Just discovered Magic Lantern to get more than 3 bracketed shots at once.

I leave ISO at 200, the F-stop is set depending on what the camera auto sets on AUTO mode (I gauge then set back to AV). I focus with auto then set back to M before shooting. The stabilizer is OFF.

Photomatix is my processing friend.  

Let me know what you think – I love hints and advice from any experts out there.

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Another mini-expedition in Kloof, Durban

This post is the sequel to “A mini-expedition in Kloof, Durban”.

Before we continue, let me share these two quotations I came across:

“ You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper” ~ William Albert Allard

“A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words” ~ Ansel Adams

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HDR 3 (high dynamic range) final

HDR 1 was rock-bottom shocking (in a funny way)..

HDR 2 was an improvement.

Now (HDR 3) is hopefully the last time for some time that I will use this particular title (HDR).

I am a lot happier (ecstatic) with the results from my mini-expedition today.

For now the photos look good enough for my eye and that’s so important. I’m really hooked baby with these “comic book paintings” of mine!

Jayden Miller’s post on HDR, which I read before going outside, gave me just that little bit more info that I needed.

Trey Ratcliff and Photomatix website had already given me a good foundation.

Let me know which one of the following photos you like if any.

Once again, any criticism together with advice on how to improve will be appreciated.

 

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HDR (High dynamic range imaging) 2

HDR (High dynamic range imaging) 1 was a complete failure.

I went back to the drawing board and read a few paragraphs of Scott Kelby’s book. In my book, seriously, there was limited info. A lovely set of three books that I will certainly now read (been in the cupboard for 2 years untouched).

The Canon 550D camera “followed” me to work today, but it was sadly an overcast day. Not to be disheartened, I started snapping away in break-time. As soon as I got home (still overcast), I snapped some more. In the evening I went visiting and snapped much more.

Between Scott’s book and an online Canon tutorial, I discovered a number of settings I was unaware of when attempting HDR (High dynamic range imaging) 1. Little wonder I failed.

I was doomed to fail again when I tried to “HDR” my photos using the related feature in Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3.

The wrong software for my very basic knowledge.

Saved by the bell (sort of)… Enter Trey Ratcliff, who featured in These chaps can really snap 2 (and paint).

I quickly skimmed through his tutorial on HDR as my bedtime was fast approaching.

Trey said Photomatix website so I rushed there and quickly downloaded the trial version of Photomatix Pro 4.2.5.

I have not produced any masterpieces below but really believe that the results are better than my first attempt in HDR (High dynamic range imaging) 1.

What do you fellow bloggers think? Same or a little better?

Bit like comic book photos but I love them.

Any hints and advice will also be appreciated.

The last photo is my least favourite but Raven did advise me to stick to daylight.