The HDR photography of the past is nothing like it is now. Most photographers have gotten away from the intense “HDR Look” of the high saturation, high detail, and gritty look and have embraced using software to bring out tonal ranges that can result in realistic landscape photographs.
HDR Software and What it Can Do for You
The most important aspect of HDR software is that it helps combine different exposed images into a single image where the highlights are not overblown and the shadows have detail.
With the use of tone mapping, ghost removal, noise reduction, and alignment, the software of today makes it much easier and faster to create beautiful images.
The first step to a good HDR photograph is capturing the best image possible. Fellow contributor Zack Schnepf has 5 Steps to Better HDR Images. It is a great article for photographers ranging from beginners to advanced.
Choosing the Best HDR Software
There are many types of software on the market. Some are free and others are part of existing software such as what can be found in Lightroom and Photoshop CC. With upgrades to stand-alone as well as plugins, the HDR capabilities in Photoshop and Lightroom don’t compare to many of the others, so I do not discuss them in this video. Once you try out some of the other programs, you’ll understand why.
In this three-part video, I compare my top three choices in HDR processing software.
Video #1: Introduction
In this introduction video, I touch upon HDR photography and the different options available to you.
Video #2: EasyHDR
EasyHDR is one of my top three choices of HDR software. In this video, I introduce you to the software and take you through the processing of an image. In the end, I give you my pros and cons.
Video #3: Photomatix
As an industry standard for many real estate photographers as well as landscape photographers, Photomatix a software I have used for many years. In this video, I provide a tour of the software as I process an image.
Video #4: Aurora HDR 2017
This newly-updated Aurora HDR 2017 has a plethora of great features not found in any other HDR software. Although it is only for Mac computers, there is rumor that a Windows version will be available in the fall of this year. In this video, I introduce you to the software and I share its pros and cons. You will notice that I use a different image here than in the other videos. This is because I was having some issues with ghosting in my sky due to the long exposures. Although there are some work-arounds, I did not include them in this video.
I was most impressed with the features in Aurora HDR 2017 for both realistic and gritty HDR. But honestly, both EasyHDR and Photomatix are great programs and can fit perfectly into your already existing workflow. What may work for me may not work for you, so I suggest taking advantage of each program’s free trial so you can get a better idea of how they work with your style of photography.