HDR Photography: Use a Raw Photo without Brackets

Single-exposure high dynamic range photography tends to involve shots of people, animals, action and other casual shots. You can use a single Raw photo without converting it to brackets to prepare a pseudo-HDR image.

This photo shows a close-up shot of a hawk at the zoo. It is a beautiful bird, and the photographer was standing no more than 5 feet from it when he took the photo.

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This example illustrates using a single Raw photo without converting it to brackets in a Raw editor. The Raw photo was simply dropped in Photomatix Pro and tone mapped. Comparing the differences, you can see the bird looked better using the Raw photo. That is always the criteria to use — what looks better.

In this case, a realistic shot seemed the most appropriate. To achieve this effect, Strength was kept very low (40 out of 100) and Micro-smoothing was increased to 19.3. This kept the image looking realistic. Luminosity and Microcontrast were both maximized (+10.0), which lightened the shadows and increased local area contrast respectively.

This basically balanced the light in the photo. Normally, when you increase Luminosity and Microcontrast, you get a more dramatic look. Lowering Strength was the key to keeping that from happening.

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