Tonight’s sunset was spectacular, for a few minutes at least, as the clouds parted and then closed over again. I was keen to get a few more bracketed EV photo sets to test out the three options for making HDR images I currently have on the silver spectre (my new laptop).
My old favourite Picturenaut, is not exactly on the laptop (it lives off site on my backup disk drive and/or my Black Darkroom USB key. It is fortunately software that does not have to be installed on a specific computer and can run as a portable app). I purely use it to do the merge and feature alignment, deghosting and colour balanced and the most basic of tone mapping then “finish” the 16 bit HDR tiff-image using OneOne or Lightroom.
My new toy, is the HDR merge within Aftershot Pro 2, which tries to take over all the steps, and can lead to those over the top surreal images. However by being a little constrained it can do a realistic albeit snappier results and optionally align features. It can also work directly from the RAW files and can store 16 bit tiff files, to give gorgeous results without a lot of tone mapping required.
The really new kid on the block is Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2, which is currently free to download thanks to google loosing interest in it. I haven’t had much of a chance to play with it but It can be used as an add in from Ligthroom and now OnOne 10.5 (although I can not figure out how to do the merge direct from Onone 10 browse. I can get the merge, alignment, deghosting and defringing done in one set as a special export from lightroom. the raw HDR file actually looks pretty good, ie natural but maybe a little contrasty & dark. It has a number of tone mapping presets to finish the image.
Aftershot Pro 2 HDR
NIK HDR Efex Pro 2
So which image have I chosen as my Daily Photo?
You need to go the flickr to see.