HDR Photography Software Options
The following software applications specialize in high dynamic range images. Read the description of the software and its strengths and weaknesses, peruse screen shots of some of them in action, and check out the website for each application (so you can investigate and download the software or trial version).
Artizen HDR is one of the stronger HDR applications available. It has a nice interface that’s reminiscent of a full-featured graphics editor. With Artizen HDR, after you generate and tone map the HDR image, you can edit and finalize your image.
Dynamic Photo HDR
Generating HDR in Dynamic Photo HDR is pretty fun. It has some powerful options that are very nice. Aside from all the obvious stuff, you can paint a ghosting mask (a fancy term for painting over objects that are moving, and thereby creating ghosting problems) onto the HDR preview to immobilize moving objects, as shown in this figure.
There are two versions of easyHDR: Basic and Pro. The basic version is very, well, basic. You load your images and start tone mapping. You can’t save HDR files, but you can open existing .hdr files and tone map them.
Upgrading to easyHDR Pro gives you a lot more power. You can generate HDR images, align them automatically or manually, and choose from many other options. You can manually alter EV information for each image, perform image size reduction as you create the HDR, choose from different HDR radiance maps (True HDR, Smart Merge, Image Stacking), change response curve, and choose from different anti-blooming and anti-noise settings.
FDRTools comes in two flavors — Basic and Advanced — in addition to a tone mapping–only Photoshop plug-in. It’s a complex piece of software written for serious users — not that it doesn’t look friendly, but the casual user might be intimidated at first. This figure illustrates the FDRTools interface in HDRI Creation mode. Individual brackets are on the left, and there are windows open that serve various purposes.
Hydra HDR plug-in for Aperture 2.1
The Hydra HDR plug-in for Aperture 2.1 is an HDR plug-in that works from within Apple Aperture to create and tone map HDR images. This figure illustrates the Hydra plug-in interface with brackets on the left and the main preview in the center.
Photomatix Pro, from HDRsoft, is a leading application in the HDR market. It has everything you need to create outstanding HDR and a few things you don’t need but might find useful.
There are two tone mapping modes. The Details Enhancer is the traditional tool used by a number of HDR photographers. It has a plethora of settings and controls in one floating window and a tone mapping preview in the main window. Photomatix Pro also has a Tone Compressor (another tone mapping paradigm) and Exposure Fusion (formerly known as Exposure Blending).
Creating HDR images in Qtpfsgui is pretty straightforward and similar to many other applications. It boils down to creating a new HDR image by selecting bracketed source photos and aligning them. The odd name (quitpeefizgooey is probably a close pronunciation), comes from the program and libraries used to build it (you can see exactly which ones on its Web site).