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HDR Troubleshooting: Too Much HDR

Sometimes too much of a good thing (HDR processing) can be a bad thing. Sometimes when people first start working with HDR, they generate HDR images and then tone map it with the most absurdly unrealistic and impractical settings possible. Yes, you love the otherworldliness of it. It's HDR.

Well, ask yourself if you are overdoing it a bit. Start pulling back on some settings and allow yourself to increase the Light Smoothing in Photomatix Pro. The result could be a bit more realism and a lot more satisfaction in the long run.

This figure shows a comparison of how this looks in practice. The scene is the New Castle (Indiana) Chrysler High School Fieldhouse (“The Largest and Finest High School Fieldhouse in the World”). The top version shows too much HDR.

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It's a great scene. However, in this case, it’s just too much HDR. The light balance is funky, and there are too many details. Compare it with the more realistic version (bottom). This is a great picture. This is what it looks like in person, and this is the version that uses HDR to achieve a good balance of drama versus realism.

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