HDR to the rescue, but is no silver bullet

I was looking at some unpublished images I had, and one struck me as a possible candidate for HDR to pull out light and color. I’ve posted the image to Flickr and Aminus3 and received nice comments on it, but it’s not perfect. Here’s a before and after comparison.


The original was dark and flat and bland, the HDR pulled out some light and color and created a pleasing image. Amazing what can be done with one RAW image. However, Photomatix worked awfully hard to get that – most settings were maxed out. And there are artifacts in the image which result from too dark of a source image.


There is some odd blue highlighting in the trees which shouldn’t be there.

Moral of the story: watch your histogram. If the source image(s) show(s) too much clipping, then there may be missing data which will cause odd effects in your HDR.


3 comments on “HDR to the rescue, but is no silver bullet

  1. versusnyc says:

    Many people use Photomatix like a blunt object. Thats why you see so many overcooked HDR’s out there. I was thinking the blue fringing could be chromatic aberration. If you merge images with CA to HDR the effect is multiplied. I cat really tell because the image is kinda small, but it looks like there is some haloing around the trees as well.Other than i like the image.

  2. Try combining your HDR image with a regularly processed image (such as the two in your post). Using layer masks in Photoshop to reveal/hide portions of each type of image has worked very well for me. You might try blending the original version of the trees with the HDR image to create more realistic HDR image. Photomatix rarely results in a beautiful final image – however it is usually a great starting point.

  3. Kevin says:

    Good tips, guys. Thanks!I think the blue artifacts might have been a bug in the beta version of Photomatix I was using. There’s something in the changes listing about it for one of the newer beta releases.Still, the point of my post was more to the point of using Photomatix (or other HDR software) to rescue overly-dark or overly-light images and what kind of trouble that may cause.

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