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A tutorial for an earlier version of Photomatix follows:
I tried my first HDR image a few months ago and there weren't many simple, straight-forward guides out there so here is a simple step-by-step guide for beginners:
1) Three exposure bracketed photos with the shutter speed being the only element changing. The aperture, ISO setting and white balance should all be the same.
2) A tripod is preferable unless you have a very steady hand!
3) Software to process the images. For this guide I'm using HDRsoft's Photomatix Pro version 2.5.3 and Photoshop CS3 for final tweaks.
Shutter speed 1/1600 - Aperture F10 - ISO 160
Shutter speed 1/4000 - Aperture F10 - ISO 160
Shutter speed 1/400 - Aperture F10 - ISO 160
Open up Photomatix and click 'HDR' then 'Generate'
Click 'browse' and select the 3 images from your directory then click OK
In this box 'Align source images' is checked by default and is best used for handheld shots. I usually check 'Attempt to reduce ghosting artifacts' too. At the bottom you can select either 'SRGB' or 'Abobe 1998' for the colour space you want to use. I rarely print images so I use SRGB for the web. When you're done, click OK
A 32bit HDR image will be generated along with a small 'HDR viewer' box so that you can check to see if the images have aligned correctly. Once I've had a quick look at the small viewer box, I close it.
This is the magical part! Click on 'HDR' then 'Tone mapping'
You will be presented with the tone mapped image and all the slider options to the left. There are 2 options for the tone mapping method used, 'Details Enhancer' and 'Tone Compressor' and in this example I have used 'Details Enhancer' which is the default and I think the best method.
To get a more detailed description of what each slider does, you can just hover your mouse over the slider. For this image I used the following settings:
By using the sliders the image can be changed in many ways and the key is to keep experimenting with different settings as one setting won't apply to every image and it's also down to personal taste. This image has been very warmed up, but it could also look good cooled down by reducing the 'color' sliders. Once you're happy with the result you can save the image as either a 16bit or 8bit image.
You may be happy with the final result produced from Photomatix, but for me, I prefer a little more punch so I opened up the image in Photoshop and made a small levels adjustment and increased the contrast and overall saturation:
and the final result......
Hope this tutorial helps people who have never tried HDR before. The biggest effects come from images of scenes with very high contrast in the beginning like standing in a dark cave and shooting out towards a bright scene outside the cave etc. However, it can also be great for bringing out the dynamic range in things like clouds in ordinary scenes like this one.