Robert Correll is an author, photographer, and artist with a lifetime of film and digital photography experience. He is a longtime expert in photo editing and graphics software such as Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, Aperture, and Photomatix Pro HDR software. He also retouches and restores photos. He contributed to every issue of the Official Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo magazine as the resident photo-retouching expert.
Photography books by Robert Correll:High Dynamic Range Digital Photography For Dummies
HDR Photography Photo Workshop
Tips on choosing High Dynamic Range (HDR) applications
Dynamic Photo HDR
Dynamic Photo HDR (www.mediachance.com) has some powerful options that are very nice. You can paint a ghosting mask (a fancy term for painting over objects that are moving) onto the HDR preview to immobilize moving objects, as shown in this image. The software has advanced options for HDR generation, powerful manual alignment tools, helpful tone mapping presets, batch processing, and is available for both Mac and Windows.
There are two versions of easyHDR (www.easyhdr.com): Basic and Pro. Upgrading to easyHDR Pro gives you a lot more power. You can generate HDR images, align them automatically or manually, and choose from many other options. EasyHDR has a standard set of HDR features and you can create projects, but it gives questionable tone mapping results at times, the basic (free) version is very limited, and it’s a Windows-only product.
FDRTools (www.fdrtools.com) comes in two flavors — Basic and Advanced — in addition to a tone mapping–only Photoshop plug-in. The best things about FDRTools are that it has advanced HDR tools, it creates a single program file, and it’s available for both Mac and Windows, It does have lots of technical options, which means a steeper learning curve to effectively use all the features.
Hydra HDR plug-in for Aperture 2.1
The Hydra HDR plug-in for Aperture 2.1 (www.creaceed.com) creates and tone maps HDR images. The great things about this plug-in are that it has a really nice interface, is easy to use, it integrates seamlessly with an Aperture workflow, and Raw processing options are integrated into the plug-in. The not-so-great things about it are that you have limited tone mapping options compared to other applications, and it’s available for the Mac only.
Photomatix Pro, from HDRsoft (www.hdrsoft.com), is a leading application in the HDR market. It has everything you need to create outstanding HDR and a few things you don’t need but might find useful. The pros of Photomatix Pro are that it produces great images and has full-featured HDR and tone mapping options and single- and multiple-batch processing options. To boot, Photomatix is friendly, not too complicated, and available for Mac and Windows (and also with plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Aperture). The cons are that the interface is sometimes clunky and there is no manual alignment option.