Tone Map HDR Images with Photomatix Tone Compressor - dummies

Tone Map HDR Images with Photomatix Tone Compressor

Tone Compressor, as shown in this figure, is another way to tone map your high dynamic range (HDR) images in Photomatix Pro. As the name suggests, dark and light tones on the extremes of the histogram are compressed toward the middle. In this case, the result is a very clean, realistic image of a lamppost over a river at sunset. The blue sky is simply gorgeous.


The controls in Tone Compressor are much simpler than those in Details Enhancer:

  • Brightness: The default is 0. Raise it or lower it to change the brightness of the image.

  • Tonal Range Compression: Controls how much to squeeze the low and high ends of the histogram toward the middle. The default is 0.

  • Contrast Adaptation: This control works a little bit like Vibrancy or Saturation. The default is 0. Raise it to make colors more intense; lower it to mute them. Of course, you’re changing contrast at the same time. Higher values appear less contrasted and lower values have more contrast.

  • White Point, Black Point, Color Temperature, and Color Saturation: The same controls as found in the Details Enhancer method.

Photomatix Pro also has a nifty tool called Exposure Fusion (formerly known as Exposure Blending). Use it by selecting Exposure Fusion from the Workflow Shortcuts dialog box. It isn’t HDR, but it does use brackets to blend the photos of a bracketed set. The results are very realistic and have less noise than tone mapped images. Select brackets just like you would while tone mapping.

Here are the ways to fuse exposures in Photomatix Pro:

  • Average: No options. See what it looks like. If you like it, great. If not, move on.

  • Highlights & Shadows — Auto: Ditto.

  • Highlights & Shadows — Adjust: You have more options to control the process here, ranging from Accentuation, Blending Point, and Shadows, to Midtone.


  • Highlights & Shadows – 2 images: Pick and choose two images from the bracketed set you want to fuse together. Aside from that, there are no options.

  • Highlights & Shadows – Intensive: This is the most intensive Exposure Fusing method. There are a few controls to play around with: Strength, Color Saturation, and Radius. This is also the most demanding process for your computer.

Just for kicks, try creating a multiple exposure look using Exposure Fusion. Choose two or more different source images with the same size in pixels and load them into Exposure Fusion. Experiment with different methods until you find the least objectionable!