How to make stunning HDR photos with Photomatix

In our second article in the series on HDR photography, we explain the use of Photomatix. Photomatix (not Photomatrix) is a digital photography program for obtaining HDR images and merging images using different algorithms and techniques.

In the following lines, we explain, step by step, how to get HDR photography from multiple photos. Take two minutes and you will see how to create your HDR photos with one of the best Italian free HDR programs, Photomatix, by following the simple steps you find in this tutorial.

HDR- the theory

To get an HDR photograph we have to start from several images. While this is not entirely true, we will take it as a premise. We will explain on another occasion how to do this with a single RAW image.

Take pictures

To take the photos we will use the tripod. If the camera allows bracketing mode, we will select it. In another case, we will have to manually take the different photos by adjusting the shutter speed in each shot, keeping the same aperture. If you need to do this manually, it is essential that the tripod is perfectly positioned, otherwise, the final photo will be blurry.

We frame the photo and shoot. If we have selected the bracketing mode, the camera will take several shots. In another case, we will manually adjust the parameters and shoot.

How Photomatix works

So far we have explained how to take pictures to be able to combine them making an HDR. This is where the Photomatix tutorial really begins.

Let’s open the Photomatix program and use the menu option HDR -> Generate (Ctrl + G). We press the Browse button and look for the images to be processed. They can be jpeg, tiff, or PSD. Once selected, press the Ok button.

Photographs may not contain information on the exposure value (EV). In this case, a screen will appear asking for these values. We indicate this information and click OK.

In the next screen, Photomatix will ask us if we want the program to align the photographs first. We also have to choose if we want the standard tone mapping to be applied or, conversely, if we want it to try to calculate the mapping used. We select the desired option and press OK.

At that point, the program will start running. It will take a few seconds, in which we will see the progress of the operations until a window with the resulting photo finally opens.

The result we will get will not be too good, but do not panic. The work starts now.

Tone mapping

Let’s go to the HDR menu -> Tone Mapping (Ctrl + T)

We could say that what we have achieved so far is the “negative” of an HDR image. At the moment the result is not at all tempting. The final effect is achieved by adjusting the various parameters of the Tone Mapping option.

  • Brightness. Adjust the brightness of the shadows. Moving the control to the right improves the detail in the shadows and the brightness of the image. Moving it to the left makes the image more natural.
  • Intensity (strength). Control the intensity of local contrasts. With 100% you get the maximum increase in local contrast.
  • Color saturation. Controls the saturation of RGB color channels. The higher the saturation, the more intense the colors will be. The saturation applied affects all color channels equally, Photomatix does not allow adjustment of the channels separately.
  • White clip – Black clip. Adjust the contrast of light and shadow respectively.
  • Smoothing. Check for changes in brightness. A higher value tends to reduce halos, giving the image a more natural look. A lower value increases the sharpness. In most cases, the optimal value is Medium or High.
  • Microcontrast (Microcontrast). Check for local accentuation. The default value (High) is ideal in most cases, although this option can be useful in the case of having an image with noise, or on those occasions when we do not want to accentuate those local details (for example, panoramic photos resulting from merging multiple images where a local highlight could bring out the joints)

Post production

Once we have the HDR image, we can save it and treat it later with another application like Photoshop, where we can adjust the curves, the color saturation for the different channels, or, in general, any adjustments not allowed with Photomatix itself…

Photomatix costs $ 99, although it has an evaluation version we can work with to test, leaving a watermark on the images generated in the unregistered version.

Download Photomatix Pro – Trial version

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About Author

Samuel Afolabi is a lazy tech-savvy that loves writing almost all tech-related kinds of stuff. He is the Editor-in-Chief of TechVaz. You can connect with him socially :)

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