Saturday, May 23, 2009

5.23 Saturday Photoshop Mini-Session: Play With HDR Plug-ins

This week's tip: Play with HDR Plug-ins.

Two of my favorite HDR plug-ins are Photomatix and Topaz Adjust.


Photomatix, a very popular HDR program from HDRsoft, is both a plug-in and a stand-alone application. First, you take several pictures over, under and at the correct exposure with your camera mounted on a tripod (set to the aperture priority mode) and fired with either the camera’s self-timer or a cable release to avoid camera shake.

Then you use Photomatix’s Detail Enhance and Tone Compressor, along with the options in their sub menus, to create images that go way beyond the recording capabilities of a digital camera’s image sensor. I used Photomatix to create the top HDR image.

Topaz Adjust

Enter the Topaz “Twilight Zone.” Topaz is relative newcomer to the world of High Dynamic Range (HDR) image making. It offers an easy, not to mention very effective, method for creating a HDR image.

Topaz Adjust allows you to create an HDR image using only one image (if the contrast range is not too wide), as opposed to most other HDR programs that combine several images over, under and at the correct exposure. I used Topaz Adjust to create the bottom HDR image.

Check out my mini-movie on HDR at the bottom of this post.

Want more HDR info on Photomatix and Topaz Adjust (and on plug-ins in general)? See the Plug-in Experience. Check out the how-to page for info – and discounts.

Love that HDR? I'd be interested to know which HDR plug-is/programs you use – and why.

P.S. If you live in the NY area, I will be giving my full HDR presentation at B&H on June 14 at 1 PM: presentation and demo. Link on my workshops page. Yes! I teach HDR on my workshop. Great fun.

Each week I will try to post:
• Monday’s Inspirational Message
• Two Tips For Tuesday
• Where in the World? Wednesday
• Photo Thought for Thursday
• Friday Fun Photo
• Saturday Photoshop Mini-Session
• Sunday Speedlite Secrets

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Lynn W said...

Photomatix - I like the range that it has.

Mike said...

did you mean to say shutter priority? You wouldn't want changing depth of field across your exposures woud you?

Barbara said...

Hi Rick,
I'm a Photomatix devotee! A few of the features I can't live without are:
1. The ability to choose the high detection option to reduce ghosting artifacts - a vital setting when shooting hand-held (sometimes a tripod just isn't an option).
2. To be able to "mix and match" the details enhancer/tone mapping settings to tweek each unique image.
3. The refresh, on-the-fly, feature provides real time feedback.
If you would like to check out some of my HDR images, I would be flattered!
Oh, by the way, great interview with Rodney Washington, earlier this year.

Rick Sammon said...

Mike - Aperture Priority - because you want to leave the aperture constant throughout all exposures for same depth of field.

Bracket with your shutter speeds. Aperture must remain the same.


Rick Sammon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Sammon said...

Barbara - Let me make you more famous :-)

See: for info on how to send me a file and info.

Love your Mountain View HDR shot. That is the one I'd like to publish.


J Howe said...

I've just started to play around with Topaz Adjust. One thing I like about it is that because it is done on a layer, you have greater control over how it gets applied to your image. You can control the opacity of the layer itself, you can apply a layer mask, etc. When I do HDR with Photomatix, there are times when I would like to apply the effect to just one area, but that can be difficult, particularly if I'm doing a hand-held HDR. That makes it harder to blend in or reduce the HDR effect in certain areas. Don't get me wrong, Photomatix is a great tool and it's my preferred tool when I do multi-exposure HDR processing.

J Howe said...

One more thing, I really like both of the images, but I'm somewhat partial to the old car, just because I love pictures of vintage automobiles. I like the additional detail that your post processing has brought out.

Rick Sammon said...

JH - I love the '58 Ford Photo, too. Cuba, 2001. I think it has a Chevy carb :-)

Have fun, playin' with plug-ins!

The said...

Hi Rick,

Don't know if you'd consider adding this guy to your plugins site - but he offers great free advice, and sells nice sets of PS and PSE actions.

Panos lives in Greece, and runs a one man shop; he does nice work, has a great site, and very fair prices.

He also personally answers emails, and promptly.

Check him out at - and keep up your own *great* work !

I suspect you're already aware of your impact on the folks who meet you, but let me mention again what an inspiration you are in my photography.

I own several well-thumbed copies of your books, which are great, but it was an evening seminar in Belmont, MA that stays with me most.
Your energetic and enthusiastic personality, and your obvious love of the art still inspires me.

Thank you !!

Steve Curcuru
Maynard, MA
(aka "The Wiz")

Rick Sammon said...


Thanks for the kind words and plug-in info. Will add soon.


David Anderson said...

I do have and have used Photomatix, but recently I have been getting great success with ImageFuser on the Mac.
It does a pretty good job of aligning handheld autobracketed shots too.