Extra Software for Your HDR Photography Workflow
The software applications described here assist high dynamic range images either on the front or back end. Some, like Photoshop, can handle every task. Others, like Photoshop Elements, are only useful in the editing and finishing phase.
Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo
Paint Shop Pro is a full-featured raster and vector graphics editor, complete with a bevy of photo editing tools and features, including a limited HDR capability. For the price, you can hardly go wrong with this package. You might prefer to create and tone map your HDR images in an HDR-specific application and then finish it in Paint Shop Pro.
Photoshop is the leader in the graphics and intensive photo-editing market, and for good reason. There’s not much it can’t do, and what it does do it does very well. Although other packages handle the routine elements of photo editing just as well (brightness, contrast, and so on), Photoshop has many other powerful features that complement your work and workflow.
Adobe Photoshop Elements
Photoshop Elements is Adobe’s slimmed-down version of Photoshop. It is aimed squarely at the consumer image and photo editing market. It’s light, fun, easy, and pretty cool. Most of the basics are here, but there are some omissions when it comes to serious work.
Lightroom, as shown in the figure, is an image management and editing application that is available for Macintosh and Windows platforms. Notice the Develop tab at the top-right of the interface. This is where you will work to change settings to convert Raw photos. Lightroom is to photographers what Photoshop is to graphic artists.
HDRsoft (the makers of Photomatix Pro) has an export plug-in that works within Lightroom. Select the images you want to process and then export them to Photomatix Pro. You can even reimport them at no extra cost.
Aperture is Apple’s answer to Adobe’s Lightroom application. As shown in this figure, Aperture is an image management and editing application that offers essentially the same functionality as Adobe Lightroom, especially when it comes to HDR photography and Raw photo processing.
There is a handy Photomatix Pro export plug-in for Aperture that helps you get your game on faster. You can export photos and tone map them in Photomatix Pro without ever leaving Aperture. Select the image or brackets you want to process, choose Images→Edit With→Photomatix HDR Tone Mapping, and you’re in business.