Our step-by-step guide teaches you how to navigate the most popular HDR
programs, including one you may already have at your fingertips.
LIMITATIONS OF EXPOSURE BLENDING
In addition to the Powerful Tone mapping tool, which works on true High Dynamic Range images, Photomatix includes a handful of "Exposure Blending" tools, which also combines LDR images, but in a more traditional way of merging the shadows and highlights from two or more source images, without generating a true High Dynamic Range "neg" to be tone mapped. After my initial experiments with the waterfront mansion images that opened this story, I was unimpressed with the results of the tools offered under the Photomatix "Combine" menu. None of the H&S (Highlights and Shadows) combining methods produced results that I'd willingly share with other photographers -- the results looked like awful dodging and burning jobs or bad layer mask compositing! (See right)
I tried to salvage one of the Combine menu Exposure Blending methods (H&S Auto) in Photoshop by adding saturation to give the ultra-vivid look I was trying to obtain, and added an S-Curve for improved contrast. The final image is noisy, and the sky shows noticeable banding. It's safe to say I was not at all impressed with these "Combine" methods. Sure, they are a lot easier, but the results didn't come close to tonemapping a merged HDR image, at least in my initial experiments. (See below)