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Process Raw Photos in Bulk for HDR Panoramas

Taking the bracketed high dynamic range photos is only the first part of creating an HDR panorama. Now you need to process your shots as HDR images.

You can, of course, do this the hard way — prepare and tone map all your brackets manually. Depending on how many frames and brackets you have, that might take some time. Conservatively, you should have three frames of three brackets each (nine images). As a time-saver, take advantage of as much automated processing as possible.

Not every Raw editor can process Raw photos automatically: Sony Image Data Converter, for example, does not. Some, like Adobe Camera Raw, enable you to open all the images into the interface at once and apply one setting to every image — much better.

If you use Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture (see the figure), you can select multiple Raw files and export them as TIFFs, or use the Quick Develop tool in Lightroom as a pseudo-batch processor before you export.

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Other applications, like Nikon Capture NX 2, have full-featured batch routines that make it possible to process every exposure in an HDR panorama without opening them all up.

To ease the processing burden on your computer, convert Raw photos to 8-bit TIFFs or JPEGs. Yes, you’ll suffer a bit of a quality hit, but if the photos are well taken, it won’t be noticeable with the 8-bit TIFF — and JPEGs might look fine, too.

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