HDR Feedback

Any questions about using Photomatix HDR Software? Or any tips of your own to share?

I’m all ears – contribute to the discussion below.

190 Responses to “HDR Feedback”

  1. George says:

    Great tutorial. Just followed it with my Canon 350D with a rather boring, overcast shot of some trees in my back garden. But I literally gasped after clicking tone mapping.

    Now I am hooked and can’t wait to hit the countryside next weekend.

  2. Dan says:

    Cheers George – glad it worked for you. It’s a larf.

  3. Aaron says:

    Good stuff! After lookin’ at your HDR collection on Flickr I had to get some action for myself. Can’t believe I’ve never heard of it before…

    I carry my tripod everywhere now, maybe my enthusiasm for HDR will fade but until then I’ve told the woman that this is just the way it’s going to be.

    Ta very much!

  4. Aaron says:

    You’ve got me hooked on HDR now…


    Taking some time to tweak but I’m loving it! Thanks

  5. Dan says:

    Yay – nice pic sah

  6. Diane Morley-Ham says:

    This is a brilliant article, so easy to understand. I’m going to download photomatix immediately and have a play. i found the site after viewing Pixel Boy’s new uploads on Flickr he has an awesome HDR of Corfe Castle Station….have a look. thanks Dan

  7. Dan says:

    Ta – I’ll have a gander!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Took a photograph of a steam engine my (75) year old brother made and the look on his face when he saw it on his computer screen amazing.
    Thank you for the tutorial.
    Bill Martin

  9. Dan says:

    Splendid! Thanks Bill.

  10. Angus says:

    It would be useful for us HDR novices if you could explain how you varied the settings to get the improved church interior and be a liitle more specific about how to avoid the all-to common ‘grey sky’ effect.
    Is it not possible to remedy the latter by using the ‘Highlights Smoothing’ slider in Photomatix?

  11. Dan says:

    Hi Angus.

    The mellower settings are just a case of having strength/saturation down nearer the 50 mark than the 100 mark, and the usual twiddling with the white/black/gamma sliders until it looks nice. I’ll try and dig out the real values I used at some point.

    If you’ve got completely blown highlights in all your raws, then highlights smoothing won’t save the day as there’s no detail there to save – granted, you’d get a block of solid white rather than that nasty grey mess from my sample, but the sky would still be knackered at the end of the day :)

  12. Dan says:

    In the case of that shot (the portrait orientation church one), the settings are:

    strength 80
    saturation 55
    luminosity 0
    smoothing very high
    microcontrast 5
    white point 2.290
    black point 0.132
    gamma 0.93
    micro smoothing 2

    everything else on 0.

  13. Dan says:

    If anyone wants more reading, I found an excellent, incredibly in depth tutorial here:


  14. Simon says:

    Bookmarked that, thnx.

    My camera only shoots 3 brackets in 0.3 or 0.7 steps in auto mode.
    Have you tried 5? Better results?
    (At your age you’re nowt but a nipper, I’ve children older than you!)

  15. Dan says:

    Howdy Simon – aye, I often do 6 or 9, depending on the conditions. On my camera, if I set the adjustment wheel to move in steps of 1/2 a stop of light, and I have it on -2,0,+2, I take a set of 3, then move it on 12 clicks, then take another set of 3, and I have 6 pics at even spacing. Do the same again for nine.

    You do get better results with more pictures if the scene demands it, but I keep meaning to experiment with not using all of them. Sometimes I find the reuslting HDR is too dark and the only way to lighten it sufficiently is to pump up the gamma a lot, which leads to really crappy looking pictures. I’m wondering that if I only use say 3 of these pictures (a very dim one, a middle one and a very bright one) that perhaps the result will be more even.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Dan, could not agree moe.What you have said about “shooting atitude” is so right. With photography you have to keep plugging .Just watched a video from a monthly magazine & tutorial was made on the use of “off camera flash” this professional could not have produced the images shown based on his style of shooting .
    Good advice,
    Steve F.

  17. Dan says:

    Cheers Steve – aye – it’s a funny old game. Still, as long as it’s fun I’ll keep snapping :)

  18. gertd says:

    I have played a lot with Photomatix (as software preference)
    Its a great tool, however i somehow struggle not to get “glowing backgrounds”
    Is there a better way of blending the different things together?

  19. Dan says:

    It’s not a problem I’m particularly aware of… although it may just be that I can’t visualise quite what you mean. I tend to decide that if after a few minutes twiddling all the sliders, an image still hasn’t looked good, that it’s just not suitable, and either make an image from a single (non-HDR’d) raw, or throw it away :)

  20. gertd says:

    Thanx Dan :-)

    - Would love to send you a pic so that you can see what i mean
    - Is there a way that one can get some standard settings being used? I am busy building my collection so its easier when you have a similar setup, just to load the settings (example: bright outdoor, indoor lamp etc)

  21. Dan says:

    I’ve sent you an email, Gert.

  22. Bryan Knight says:

    I notice that some shots just do not work at all in HDR even if taken on the same day in the same light and even after adjusting white balance in Lightroom. I can’t fathom it out. I’m sure it’s light but can’t pinpoint why. Any ideas?

  23. Dan says:

    Hi Bryan

    There’s too many reasons to hazard a guess without having the raws and some idea of the effect you’re going for, really. One chap that was having problems earlier was using jpegs rather than raws as the source files for the HDR – that can make things look pretty lame.

    Do you know you can adjust the white balance in photomatix, before the process? That might help. It’s at the bottom of the big dialog.

    If you want, you could send me the raws over and I could have a twiddle myself, but I can’t promise miracles!

  24. max says:

    heya dan, great article really sparked an interest so i tried out your three images in photomatix but they come up very pink and i have played with the settings and cant get rid of the pink! any sugestions?

  25. Dan says:

    Aha! I had that before, but only in picasa, never in photomatix.

    With me, it was happening because picasa wasn’t up to date enough to render 450d raw files. It could be that maybe you have an older version of photomatix that hasn’t got the right codec (if that’s the right word!) to cope with them. You could try downloading the demo of the latest version, or seeing if you can upgrade it for free.

    Failing that, try emailing HDRsoft – support@hdrsoft.com – they are nice folks.

  26. Adam says:

    Hey Dan, You have some really good HDR images here. I am actually on the lookout for a new DSLR and I wanted to know If the Auto Exposure Bracketing shots were limited to the fps of the 450D as you can only do three and the 450D does 3 fps shooting? If this is the case does it mean a 40D will it be able to do 6 images in a row? Or am i waaay of track?

  27. Dan says:

    Thanks Adam

    I’m not actually much of a camera expert, so you can probably get better answers elsewhere. Take a look at:


    that guy has the most insanely in depth camera reviews. Should hopefully tell you everything you want to know.

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t know there was any correlation between FPS and the number of AEB shots. I do know the 450d can only do 3 though, as could the 400/350. I know some cameras can do more, but am unsure if any canons can.

    What I tend to do if I want more is take a 3-shot AEB, then roll the clickwheel 12 clicks (i have it set on 1/2 stop per click), which means the next 3 will fit in right alongside, so I can get 6, 9, 12 or whatever by repeating that. Quicker than doing them individually, but it would be nice to have more automatically.

  28. Toots says:

    Thanks Dan for a really useful tutorial, you explain it very well. Now just need to get out there and take some shots

  29. Dan says:

    Thanks Toots ;)

    I really need to do the same – I’ve not been taking anywhere near enough pictures this year!

  30. Jim says:

    Hi Dan,

    Great article about HDR. I’m experiencing myself too lately, always on tripod though. I should try to do the trick without once.
    I totally agree with you on the first HDR’s you create… you often over do it with colors and effects and when you move on with HDR your images improve! A Lot!
    I also must say the same thing Bryan wrote… Last weekend I took HDR shots (3 auto brack -2/+2) of a specific angel of an office, I moved my tripod to another corner to shoot it from different angle… How hard I may try, I don’t get the same HDR result of both shots. Don’t know what went wrong, I can send you the raws though (can I email you?). Also other annoyments are halows in trees, cables in the air… they appear even in very soft tone mapping settings…
    I’ve been told taking more than 3 raw shots improves HDR, like 7 or 8 but I didn’t get better results though.
    one last thing, I shoot in A-mode so shutterspeed is given my my D50 but how should I take my first shot? I can aim with spot/central on different parts of a building (white and black walls, blue sky, green grass)… I guess all these have different results, is there any rule for this?


  31. Dan says:

    Hi Jim – lot of stuff there :)

    I’ll try and deal with it in order.

    1) Without a tripod, you just have to make sure you set the “align source images” option in photomatix. On the later versions there are two ways of doing this – horizonal/vertical shifts, or matching features. Both have different effects so try each – sometimes one will work, sometimes both will work, sometimes neither will work. If you strike out, try taking out the more aberrant image and seeing if you can still get anything good. Failing that, try with a single shot, you can still sometimes pull something out of the bag like that.

    2) I think the reason some HDRs work and some just won’t no matter what you do is to do with the dynamic range you’ve captured in your images. Depending on the spot you’ve metered from (the bit that decides what is 18% grey/normal brightness), you might find you have more or less dynamic range (ie. if it’s a bright scene and you meter off something dull, you won’t get much dynamic range as most of your bright will be blown out etc). It may not always be this… my technique is to just take lots of pics, and you gradually get a feeling for what will work and not. I don’t really have a magic wand here, so suspect I wouldn’t be able to produce anything better than you can. One thing i almost always do is tweak the images after photomatix has produced them – to sort out the white balance/contrast – that may do something for you, dunno :)

    3) Halows… do you mean halos? Annoying bands of lightness around things? They tend to be caused by low light smoothing – I almost always have that set to VERY HIGH.

    4) If you have a scene with a very high dynamic range (ie. dull shadows with detail, and bright skies), taking more than 3 pics can help a lot. I don’t do it that often though, because it’s a bit of a pain in the arse, and you can sometimes end up with a flat looking HDR (if you think about it, it’s having to compress a vast range of different brightnesses into a single viewable pic, so it’s going to make some compromises). One good thing about taking more than 3 is that you can just pick and choose if you want (ie. choose any 3 of the pics, or however many you want, to make your HDR).

    5) When shooting in auto mode, the metering will depend how it’s set up in your camera. I normally have mine on spot or centre weighted, so I know that whatever I point the camera at is the thing that will be the right brightness. It’s definitely worth trying manual – it’s not that much of a bitch, and can stop you making some of the mistakes you sometimes get on auto. If you’re white, then pointing the camera at the back of your hand is a good way to estimate a good setting. Set the aperture you want, point the camera at the back of your hand (either in sun or in shade, depending on the makeup of the scene you are shooting) and then twiddle the exposure time until the camera says the exposure is right, then take a few shots and see how you go.

    Where to meter from is something worth a book in itself really. I’m no expert :) The back of the hand trick is useful – but more often than that I just choose a part of the scene that looks roughly in the middle of the brightness range, and meter off that.

    Hope that’s of some help :)

  32. Michael says:

    Hi Dan … Thank you for a detailed tutorial … just what I was looking for. I’ve just come across HDR images and I’m going to purchase photomatix.

  33. Dan says:

    Thanks Michael, I hope you have fun with it.

  34. Jim says:

    Hi Dan,

    Thx for you reply! You got me some new ideas to improve my HDR’s.
    I always use the “align source images” button so I’ll try shooting without tripod, I never did actually. I guess I’ll have to use mutiple shots then… Now I use a remote control with my tripod.
    I’ll try this, taking more shots and combine later for HDR, see which one comes out best. I’ll check out metering on (spot or center) on 18% grey like parts in sight.
    What I do now is not shooting in auto mode but arperture mode.
    what I’m gonna try is to get a good metering and set these to manual. I’m gonna leave these settings for taking shots from different angles… see how that works out. Good thing is to get metering on 18% gray or middle brightness indeed… I guess the picture I told you about hasn’t got the right brightnesses as the one shot before from different angle… if this doesn’t help, I might try the white balance thing yes to get the same results
    I’m not a fan of using more than 3 shots either, I saw a lot of pics, great HDR’s, only taking from 3 shots so…
    I’ll check out the halo thing too :)
    thx mate

  35. Dan says:

    I use the tripod 95% of the time (for HDR), but sometimes if I’m out on my bike, or a walk or something, and I see something I want as HDR, it’s worth trying handheld if you keep as steady as you can. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but often it does. this pic for example was handheld.

    Aha – aperture mode is probably my most common too. One good tip is to get into the habit of checking the pics on the back of the camera to see if the bits you care about do appear do be different brightnesses on each pic, and that you haven’t got any blown highlights. I remember to do that most of the time now, and it helps :)

  36. Dan says:

    Oh aye – and I find if I have the camera on… god… I don’t know what the mode is called actually… “continuous” perhaps? Where you hold down the button and it just keeps taking pictures… that if I’m on AEB, it knocks out three pics nice and quickly just by holding the button down.

  37. Iain says:

    Hey Dan,

    First off, excellent tutorial.

    I’ve been itching for my new 450d to arrive so I could get my teeth stuck into HDR’s.

    Your guide was perfect and I’ve spent hours putting pics together.

    Many thanks and keep up the good work.


  38. Dan says:

    Thanks Iain! I’m waiting for spring to properly arrive so I can go out without freezing / being blown away.

  39. Linards says:


    I have photoshop cs, i typed hdr in serch, but seems cs dont have hdr options, cs2 has.

    Any comment?

    thnks Linards.

  40. Dan says:

    Hi Linards

    I’ve never used the photoshop stuff (in fact, I don’t even have it – I use GIMP, a freeware thing, for editing). But I do hear people mentioning CS2 a lot with regard to HDR, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you are right.

    If you don’t want to shell out for photomatix, there’s a free thing: http://qtpfsgui.sourceforge.net/ that might be worth a go :)

  41. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Dan.
    And I haven’t used any other soft actually.

  42. Dan says:

    No worries – the free demo of photomatix is worth a look too – would be enough to see if you like it anyway. I used the demo for a while until I got hooked :)

  43. John Davis says:

    Hi Dan Great introduction to HDR, which I’m now enjoying playing around with. With reference to your 21st January post about taking more than the standard three shots by setting the adjustment wheel to 1/2 stop per turn and after taking the first three making 12 turns then taking three more shots. How do you set the wheel to this setting? Thanks John

  44. Dan says:

    Hi John

    On my 450d, it’s:

    Press Menu
    Scroll across to Custom Functions (last but one menu)
    Option 1: “C. Fn I : Exposure – exposure level increments” – and there you can change it between 1/3 and 1/2 stop.

    You can of course just skip this step and make more turns of the wheel – it’s just a way to save a bit of time between shots as those bloody clouds move so fast!

  45. Uwe Jansch says:

    Hi, Great tutorial! Thanks for taking the trouble.
    Pls can you tell me how I can adjust my CR2 RAWs my Phoytoshop CS3 does not accept them.
    Kind regards

  46. Dan says:

    Hi Uwe

    I may not be the best person to advise you on this, as I don’t use photoshop. I’ve had a quick google around for you and found this thread:


    Hopefully something in there will help you :)

  47. John Davis says:

    Hi Dan – OK, so I’ve changed the EL increment to 1/2 from 1/3, then set the camera to take 3 shots at f16 (for reasonable DOF), then rotated the wheel 12 clicks which changes the f stop to 4.5. So, if I then take 3 more shots surely all I’m doing is taking the same shot with differential exposures but changing the DOF? So if you want to take 9 shots you’re going to run out of f stops surely? I’m certain I’m missing something vital here and missing the point but I just can’t get my head around it – rational thinking was never my strong point! And it was all going so well. Help! Regards John

  48. Dan says:

    Aha – i think I may need to rewrite that part to make it clearer :)

    This doesn’t work on AV mode. Only do it on manual mode. You never want to change the aperture when taking HDR shots (unless you deliberately do so to achieve an effect). Pop it on manual first, so your clicks of the wheel change the exposure time instead. That’s the only thing I vary.

    HTH – ask away if you need anything else, I’ll help if I can. I may take a little while to answer, as my first son was born yesterday and I have a lot of running around to do!

  49. John Davis says:

    Hi Dan – that makes more sense! Wow, I’m amazed that you found time to answer yesterday evening and this morning! I’ll give it a shot. Congratulations on your son. Will you be going for full-on HDR shots of his first few days, or just regular? Regards John

  50. Mark Riley says:

    Thanks for the excellent tutorial. I have been very sceptical of HDR up to now, but I can now see that, done with care, it can produce truly amazing results. I’ve tried it with a couple of pictures from last year, just blending three exposures from one RAW file (I will of course be bracketing when I go out shooting next week!!) but even doing that has created very pleasing, and quite natural looking, results!!

    Thanks also for explaining how the software works and what the individual controls are used for-it really is a definitive tutorial!

  51. Dan says:

    John – I’m actually trying to learn how to use graduated filters properly at the moment, as I was a bit sick of *all* my best shots being HDR – trying to branch out a bit!

    With people, too, I find the best shots are just those taken in available light with a nice short focal length – I’ve got a 30mm sigma 1.4 that’s great for that, which I’ve been pestering poor Arthur with a lot :)

    Thanks for the kind words Mark – it’s great fun when you get into it – another string to your bow!

  52. Uwe Jansch says:

    Hi, I am feeling quite exhausted with all these options and testing the HDR programme I just bought yesterday. I am quite fascinated with the dynamic colour range. BUT I am loosing in all my shots the clearity and Focus of the single shot. What am I doing wrong in the line-up?? Please can you advise.
    Thank you in advance for your help.
    Kind regards

  53. Dan says:

    Hi Uwe

    My first thoughts would be:

    1) Make sure you are only varying the exposure length, not the aperture size. Practically, this means either using 3 shots on AEB, or using manual mode and varying the exposure length.

    2) Use a tripod if you have one

    3) Make sure you’re not refocussing between shots somehow

  54. Uwe Jansch says:

    Hi Dan,
    I am using a tripod, AEB and aperture priority. I am varying the exposure time. I am not changing the focus during the three shots I am taking. The HDRs are blurring with soft edges. Nothing like the sharp images you produced even of hand held shots.
    There must be a big difference between our technics in the process. It feels like you are using a different programme??
    I can send you my images in reduced size?
    Thanks for your support.
    Kind regards

  55. Dan says:

    Check your email Uwe – I’ve dropped you a line.

  56. El says:

    Your HDR’s look great. I’ve just recently started with Digital photography and playing around with HDR. The problem I have is that my RAW pics turn magenta when I generate them into a HDR. If I take JPEGS, I don’t have that problem. Any ideas?

  57. Dan says:

    Hi El

    I had that problem before – it’s when your PC hasn’t got the right codec (I think codec is the word!) to deal with that particular raw format. With my problem it was looking at things in Picasa – the next version update sorted it out.

    What bit of software are you using? I’d suggest doing a bit of googling for your camera make and mode, raw and pink, and see what you get :)

  58. El says:

    Hi Dan, thanks for your quick response. I’m using a Mac, and the only software that I currently have is the one that came with my Canon EOS 40D “Digital Photo Professional”. I’ll google a bit for more info and if I get stuck I’ll pepper you with more questions! Thanks for your advice! It’s really kind of you to respond!

  59. El says:

    To add to the previous comment, I’m using the Photomatix Trial Version of course.

  60. El says:

    I found a few answers on http://www.flickr.com – there were loads of Canon EOS 40D users using an earlier version of Photomatix which caused the same magenta hues. The problem can be solved by downloading the version Photomatix 3.0.3. Not version 3 but version 3.0.3.

  61. Dan says:

    yay – so all is well now?

  62. El says:

    Hi Dan, I downloaded the latest trial version of Photomatix and it worked like a charm! Thanks for guiding me in the right direction!

  63. Dave says:

    this is a great tutorial, i’ve only been experimenting with HDR for about 6 months, so far its been a bit hit and miss

    I’d be very interested to learn about your settings for that top image, the horizontal church interior, i’ve been trying to get that kind of look for a lot of photos recently but im having trouble trying to nail the right kind of settings!

    and also, for a photo such as that one, what stops do you meter at? i tend to do the basic -2, 0 and +2, and im curious as to what the advantages are when metering 5, 7 and even 9 exposures,

    any advice would be hugely appreciated!

  64. Dan says:

    Hi Dave

    Thanks! HDR is a bit hit and miss, I find, so don’t let that get you down. Some things work great, some things are always going to look bad :) The trick, like with the rest of photography, is to TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES!

    That top picture (I haven’t got the exact settings any more) was probably 100% strength, 100% saturation, very high light smoothing and probably nearly top luminance too. Not a subtle pic. Those settings aren’t always that useful to you though, as two pics of different subjects with the same settings can look completely different if the subjects are different enough!

    That was probably a -2,0,+2. I don’t take very many shots with a wider range. The advantage in doing so is if you have a very wide range of brightnesses to cope with… but most of the time that’ll be because the sun is in the shot or something, and those pictures tend to turn out pretty lame anyway!

    The only really good advice I can give, I already have really. Take far too many pictures, and play around with them, and then try and learn from your successes and failures. As hopefully comes across from the way I write, I’m very much a learner too – I just happen to be a learner with a blog :)

  65. Dave says:

    Thanks for the tips, i was quite freaked out when i read the lens section this website by the way, you have the exact same equipment as me, and you even bought everything in the same order i did, right up to the sigma 10-20! coincidence eh?

  66. Adrian says:

    Thank you, a clear concise tutorial and very helpful, if only to further encourage an HDR novice. Only a week since I downloaded Photomatrix, there has been some limited success but much disappointment. I upgraded to a secondhand Olympus E-3 late last year so can’t blame the equipment. I have tried converting my raw files to 16bit TIFF prior to loading the images into Photomatrix, this helps with the strange colour shifts which some RAW files have produced. Post processing in Photoshop, I have Elements 7, which if you have the full version is worth buying for it’s superior stitching facility. You may still get the odd white line between masks but pressing ctrl+shift+alt+E (stamp visible) kicks them into touch effortlessly

  67. Dan says:

    Hi Adrian

    Thanks – have you tried the “raw conversion settings” bit at the bottom of the “Generate HDR – Options” dialog you get when starting the HDR process in photomatix? I’m wondering if changing your white balance or color primaries might help.

    Personally, I tend to process with the default white balance settings, and then if necessary tweak the white balance of the resulting JPG (or tiff).

    May be no help at all, but there you go!


  68. Adrian says:

    Afternoon Dan, no as I have found that when outdoors I set white balance to cloudy (5300K from memory) it seems to give the best saturation on my camera, and also saves me worrying about the technology of auto this that and the other. I always capture in RAW so most sins and omissions can be rectified.
    My passion is for panoramas, and it seems the workflow Photomatix then stitching and cropping is the way to go, though I may try it visa versa. Colour is not really a problem, it just seems unpredictable in Photomatix. It can be rectified ,even in Elements. I tend to use levels pick a grey point on a duplicate layer then blend in overlay mode adjusting the opacity to suit my mood is the quick and easy way. One more point that may save frustration to people like me of little experience, is that you need to have plenty of RAM I suspect 4GBytes is probably the minimum, thanks it’s all a help, all the best A.

  69. [...] (In case you aren’t familiar with HDR photography, check out this tutorial) [...]

  70. Chris Gallagher says:

    I have yet to try HDR, but I grabbed a single RAW image of a sunset a couple of weeks ago in circs that would probably have merited from it. I’ve heard that there are ways of achieving a similar result by processing a single image, but I can’t find a tutorial for this technique. Any thoughts?

  71. Dan says:


    If you have a raw image, you can make a HDR, it’s just not as high a dynamic range as it would be with more images. With raws, you have about a stop of light’s leeway either way I think, so if you push it through photomatix you can pull out more dynamic range than you have in a normally processed jpeg, but the effect isn’t as strong as with more images.

    Equally, you could use your raw processing software to create two or three versions of it at different exposure levels, then blend them together in photoshop.

    If you do want to try photomatix, it works just the same for single images as it does for multiple ones, so the tutorial should stand. I think that some of the single shot HDRs you see benefit from a lot of post processing, though – and there’s always the caveat that some HDRs just don’t look that good anyway, so depending on the shot, your mileage may vary.


  72. Adrian says:

    Morning Dan, in Photomatix the easiest way is to go to automate choose single image and load up your file. Some work OK some don’t, about par for the course no matter how many source images one uses! Also for Chris’s benefit you can play with Photomatix for ever and for free. You just have watermarks on the final image, not a problem whilst coming to terms with the job, all the best A.

  73. Jeff says:

    I really enjoyed your tutorial, but I am having difficulty with my HDR Tone Mapping. I tried using your autumn tree scene – downloaded the three photos, merged them to HDR, and then hit “Tone Map”, but when I get going, I can’t seem to replicate the fantastic image you ended up with. The way the white clouds stand out in the upper left-hand corner, yet the sky remains dark blue… the nice lining of brighter blue sky around the trees, and then the trees themselves are fully lit, yet not over-exposed or over-saturated. What am I doing wrong?! haha Just frustrating.

    Bottom line, I just can’t seem to achieve that superbly smooth glow that HDR images are so well-known for. There’s always some kind of noise in my photos – whether I’ve taken them with my DSLR or if I grab them off of tutorials like this one. ANY HELP!?

  74. Jeff says:

    To add to my last post, did you accomplish the Autumn scene shot that is your end product on this page simply by using Photomatix and the tone tab? There are three other tabs (color, Micro, and S/H)… did you do anything with those? Or, did you process the image and then work on it more in Photoshop and use other techniques? Thanks!

  75. Dan says:

    I’ll go through it step by step to make sure:

    1) Download zip
    2) Unzip raws
    3) Drag raws to a folder
    4) Open photomatix (in my case, photomatix pro 3.1)
    5) drag raws to photomatix
    6) “Generate an HDR image” is selected / click OK
    7) Click OK on confirmation dialog 8) Choose Align source Images / horizontal / vertical shifts / reduce noise / reduce choromatic aberrations / press OK
    9) Twiddle thumbs
    10) Click “Tone Mapping” button
    11) Choose “default” settings from preset menu at bottom
    12) Twiddle the sliders so that I have this:

    Strength: 100%
    Colour Saturation: 64
    Luminosity: 10
    Light smoothing: high

    White point: 0.250%
    Black point: 0.000%
    Gamma: 1.01

    Light smoothing: very high

    Everything else was left as default – but I’ll list them here just in case:

    Microcontrast 0
    temperature 0
    saturation highlights 0
    saturation shadows 0

    micro smoothing 2
    high smooth 0
    shad smooth 0
    shad clip 0

    360 image unchecked

    13) Click Process
    14) Twiddle thumbs
    15) File > save as > stuck it on the desktop as a jpeg / uploaded to site:

    here it is

  76. Dan says:

    For the image in the tutorial, I probably brought it into lightroom and tweaked the contrast and perhaps the exposure a little, but it was ages ago so I can’t remember. Is the image I just linked to comparable to the ones you get?

  77. Dan says:

    Here’s one tweaked in lightroom

    All I did there was increase the contrast and exposure a little. It’s not hugely different but probably more similar to the original image above.

  78. Adrian says:

    Afternoon Dan, Many thanks for your time spent encouraging numpties like me. Just processed half a dozen HDR’s and they have all come out as I expected they should, not perfect by any means but far superior to my previous efforts. I’m still getting a few blown highlights (a problem with the small Olympus sensor). I shall go out tomorrow and expose for the highlights, bash off three exposures and then incorporate with the normal -2,-1, 0,+1,+2. There appears to be no limit to the number of images that can be used, I’ll just be awash with tea while the programme clunks away. Thanks again, all the best Adrian

  79. Dan says:

    Howdy Adrian. Ta – ace news that you’re all happy. Dunno if I mentioned it anywhere in this thread, but I’ve found that exposing for the highlights and then upping the exposure a bit is quite a good method, as you get some leeway with the raws. And remember I’m just a numpty too, I just happen to have a website :)

  80. Adrian says:

    Aye but there are numpties and complete muppets, I score highly in the latter category. Just to give myself further grief I now have Flexify 2. I have a weakness for stitching panoramas as I dislike the look of standard formats. 360/180 stitches should really cause some heartache. however the more techniques one acquires, the more one can do with ones hobby, strike that, obsession would be more appropriate, Ta.

  81. Adrian says:

    Afternoon again, probably a case of ‘grandmothers and eggs’ but you can get quite fine control over the end result in photoshop by adjusting, levels, contrast, saturation, using adjustment layers, then duplicate the background drag to the top of the layers menu, select overlay as the blend mode and adjust the opacity. Should one desire extreemly whacky effects try some of the other blend modes it’s all non destructive so anything goes, all the best Adrian.

  82. Dan says:

    heh – I had a phase of that too. My weapon of choice is Arcsoft Panorama Maker, as it works with Raws (it was the only one I could find that did at the time, but lots may now).

    Have you seen these things?? Quite hackneyed now, but pretty cool if you’ve not seen them before. You can do them quite easily in GIMP or photoshop by applying a polar coordinates transformation to a 360 panorama. I only had one go at it which wasn’t hugely successful, but shows it’s easy to actually DO, if not to do WELL :)

    I stopped then, because it was just at the point where I was starting to think I needed to get better at old fashioned photography.

  83. Dan says:

    Regarding your second post, I haven’t actually got photoshop – I’ve played with it in the past, but I quite like what you can do with GIMP, and enjoy it’s freeness. I’m currently trying to get things as right as I can in-camera with a combination of:

    - Careful metering
    - Graduated neutral density filters
    - Shooting when the light’s right

    which is a TIRESOME BITCH OF A JOB, but when it works the final result has an authenticity you can’t quite match with HDR / post processing fiddling.

  84. Adrian says:

    Morning Dan, you my friend are going to end with medium format and 120 film! I know what you mean though, years ago I had an Oympus OM 1 and always aspired to a range finder. It’s taken me a couple of years in the digital world to disregard the frames shot which is not a good thing. Having said that the two professional photographers I knew used to shoot miles of film, plus polaroids to aid composition. How are the gradient filters working out? OK I guess if the transition from light to dark is horizontal and regular. I’ll give it consideration, next time I’m at the shop I’ll see what second hand filters they have, anything to increase satisfaction or provoke language inappropriate to this site. All the best A

  85. Dan says:

    I’ve not had enough of a chance to get really good with them yet – I initially got them a couple of years ago, before I discovered HDR, and was a bit too impatient, and when I discovered HDR, I put them in a box and didn’t take them out. This time I’m liking them more, but haven’t had chance to go out when the light’s right – largely because it was a couple of weeks until my wife’s due date, and then the baby appeared, so time is a little short right now as you can imagine :)

    Only ones I really got that were approaching decency were these:


    but they were taken in harsh daylight without much time to devote to composition, so they’re not good enough to put on this site (All my not-completely-toss shots go on flickr, only those I’m really happy with go on here!)

  86. Adrian says:

    HI regarding your planet, yes I have seen the Flickr sets. Few inspire me, it,s very difficult to visualise the composition prior to processing never mind shooting. I’m hoping to reduce the centre distortion by taking a couple of exposures towards the Nadir (How low can I get?). I like your composition and it’s an interesting excercise however they turn out. Congratulations on your son and heir, mine was 18 at the weekend. From his demeanour 18 going on 4 but don’t let me introduce negativity. I just joined Flickr and will post under Captaincalm, Adrian

  87. Tom Johnston says:

    Now, that’s how tutorials should be written! After seeing some HDR images, I decided that I wanted to know more about it and, luckily, I found your tutorial. So many times, the person writing a tutorial seems to want to simply impress everyone with their knowledge while actually teaching a technique is secondary. But your tutorial is just what a beginner needs. It doesn’t intimidate the reader and it makes the whole process seem fun. Thank you very much for posting this fine tutorial. I really appreciate it. Now, I’m going to see what HDR can do when combined with large format photography. You see, I’m a dinosaur! I’m still a large format analog shooter but I see no real reason why I can’t give this technique a try. In fact, as I’m sure you know, HDR was originally done with film and prints were made in darkrooms but digital really released it’s potential. But I’ll try it with my wife’s little digital camera first.

    Thanks Again!
    Tom Johnston

  88. Dan says:

    Heh – thanks Tom, that means a lot. I get a bit annoyed with sites where people try to make themselves seem like God’s gift – I figured just spooling out the contents of my brain without self aggrandisement was a good plan. Good luck with your efforts sah :)

  89. Tom Johnston says:

    Thanks, Dan. You did an excellent job of “spooling out the contents of (your) brain”! :-) You should teach tutorials on How To Teach Tutorials.

    I have a question that maybe you can help me with: I see that it’s recomended that you work with RAW files. That makes sense. However, if I try this with scanned large format film, I don’t think that’s an option. Also, my wife’s little digital camera only saves in JPEG. Any suggestions?


  90. Dan says:


    It’ll still work fine – it just works a bit better with raws, is all. Reason being that raws themselves have a bit of a higher dynamic range than jpegs, so you get a bit more data for the HDR algorithm to play with.

    Just give it a shot and see :)


  91. Tom Johnston says:

    Gotcha! Thanks again.

    I just played around with a couple of the tutorials that simulate or fake HDR in link for 19 HDR tutorials that you posted. Unfortunately, I couldn’t follow some of the instructions. The ones I tried assume (for good reason, I suppose) that the reader is proficient in PS. I use CS3 all the time but only for the most basic things…. levels, sharpening, saturation, etc. I wish everyone wrote tutorials like you do, Dan. I’ll get it, though.


  92. Adrian says:

    Has this worked? If so thanks very much

  93. Dan says:

    Yep – that reminds me of the track that goes down to thors cave from Wetton – is it near there?

  94. Adrian says:

    Christ a miracle has happened I’ll be building a web site before I know it, Regarding the picture-no its just outside Tideswell loads of green lanes round home. trouble is one is spoilt living here. So spoilt that I’m setting off round the UK later in the year to snap the wild and not so wild, should keep me out of mischief for a couple of years

  95. Dan says:

    Oooh – tideswell – lovely area. I love how steep those valleys are around there. Often it seems you’re just on a big flattish plain, and then you plunge down into Millers Dale or something and it’s all quite exciting. Loughborough’s not got the most exciting landscape in the world :)

  96. Don says:

    I have a very special need for this software of something like it. My company does high end landscape lighting and in the past the only film that would work was 64ASA SLR tripod, etc. etc. Now I have a Nikon D80 and am trying to take nightime shots. Before I buy the Photomatixx is there a trial version I can test to see if it will work?

  97. Dan says:

    Yep, just pop to their site and click download.

  98. Peter of Sweden says:

    Hi there
    I’ve been playing around a little with Photomatix.
    Mostly landscape in my test picts.
    Very often the clouds darkens dramatically. Could be nice as an effect but it I want the tone mapped image to get “the same” dynamic range as my eye.

  99. Katie says:

    I agree with take a lot of pictures–for any type of photography. Digital makes it easy to get good shots because you can see the pictures right away. I shot for a newspaper and shot and shot till I got the picture–often things happen of interest and if you snap a shot and move on, you miss it.

  100. Pauline says:

    Hi, I have a Nikon D60 and want to try working with HDR, but the D60 doesn’t have AEB. Do I need to take three separate shots, shot 1 being at correct exposure, shot 2 with +2 exposure compensation and shot 3 -2 exposure compensation and then use align source input to allow for any ‘movement’ between shots? I’ve only had the camera a couple of weeks but when I bought it I didn’t know about AEB so didn’t give it due consideration when making my purchase.

  101. Dan says:

    Hi Pauline

    You don’t need to be exact, no – you can twiddle the exposure time dial between shots, and as long as the exposures are of different brightness you should be fine. Only change the exposure time, not the aperture size (unless you deliberately want a strange effect, which some people enjoy) and you should be fine. The only downsides are it takes a bit longer, and you are in danger of moving the camera little on the tripod between shots. Also, without AEB, taking handheld HDRs is presumably nigh on impossible – I certainly couldn’t be trusted to hold the camera steady for that long :)

    Have fun!

  102. Doug Bays says:

    This has been well presented and you’re to be complimented.
    I’ve tested this and a few other HDR programs as well as the simulations in Adobe and Corel. I’ve yet to find anything that is as well developed as the Mediachance software. It’s more intuitive and user friendly.Has both Full HDR(multiple exposures) as well as the option of working with a single file, and additional options you will not find elsewhere, regardless of price. The latest version now includes a reasonably full Editor interface as a last optional step which includes full functionality for .8bf effects/filters.
    Definitely worth a trial and currently at $55. to purchase. Mediachance also has a Photoshop compatible plug-in that simulates HDR and does an incredible job with a single file.

    Both are great.

  103. Rob says:

    thanks i really enjoyd reading all you comments :) its good to learn with others.

  104. Dan says:

    Thanks Rob. Check out my mate Andy Stafford‘s site too – he’s a lot more patient than me – more of a “Proper photographer” :)

  105. Thanks for encouraging us to try different settings in Photomatix to tune down the more extreme HDR effects, especially the hint about highlight smoothing, which hopefully will reduce the sky halos around trees, etc. But in honesty, looking at the photos of the church, the landscape version to me looks more like a straight photo, and the portrait more HDR-like. I know they were done under different lighting conditions, but the former has the washed-out windows and dark shadows of a standard photo, while the portrait version has the flatter look of HDR, what with the held window detail and the shadow detail.

  106. Dan says:

    Would you not agree that the former looks extremely unreal though? It looks like a still from a computer game to me, whereas the second looks more like something found on planet earth.

  107. Mick says:

    Hi Dan, and thanx for a brilliant tutorial about HDR. I have a Sony 100 DSLR and it only allows me to shoot of AEB in 3 steps of 0.3 or 0.7 of a stop. This is obviously only suitable for low contrast scenes. You mentioned in a previous answer to someone who had a similar problem (21st January 2009) and suggested moving the adjustment wheel 12 clicks, i.e, 6 stops at half a stop per click. By “adjustment wheel” do you mean exposure comp or shutter speed. I assume you mean the latter.

    Also if I load my 3 RAW bracketed pics into Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 – my main editor- it will apply a certain amount of corrections to the Raw image which will surely interfere with the tone mapping when I open them in Photomatic Pro that I have a trial version of. So do I need to switch all those automatic tonal controls off in my Adobe Raw editor before I load the images into Photomatic Pro as, say, TIFF’s or RAW files? What about sharpening ? Does that have to take place in post processing?

    Sorry, there are several questions in one there.

    Mick (Norfolk)

  108. Dan says:

    Hi Mick

    Thanks :)

    Yes, I meant the shutter speed. Basically, you just need to move it on such that the next three pictures will carry on evenly from the previous lot. Let’s say zero is your “correctly” exposed scene, you might take:

    -4 -2 0

    and then

    +2 +4 +6

    and then they’d stack up nicely as six evenly distributed images (although I did realise after not having done so originally, that they don’t have to be evenly spaced – it makes sense to make them so though).

    I’m not actually certain, but I think that any changes you make to a raw file won’t actually change the raw file, or if they do they’ll just change some meta information in the file. I suspect with Lightroom at least, that it stores a pile of information about the image, which is applied to it when you view it, so no information is ever lost from the raw. In short, you could bugger about with the raw file as much as you wanted, but then when you drag it into photomatix, it’s like you’ve done nothing to it (this is just my understanding, and not necessarily accurate – but makes sense to me).

    If you were to export them from the raw processor, be it Lightroom or Photoshop or whatever, as something else – a TIFF or a JPG – that WOULD make a difference, as the changes you made would actually result in the image data changing and presumably information loss. I always drag raws straight into photomatix – unless I’m deliberately doing something weird, which I don’t often (apart from the dresses).

    Regarding sharpening – and in fact all other tweaks – I tend to try and get an image that looks nice out of Photomatix – and then muck about with it after. So I’d mess with contrast, sharpening, and probably even saturation etc afterwards too.

    Hope this helps!

  109. Mick says:

    Hullo Dan.

    Many thanks for the prompt response to my enquiry.

    Thanks for the info about the bracketing of exposures for photomatix and RAW files etc. I will drag the RAW’s into photomatix from now on as it does make sense when one thinks about it.

    It would be nice if Sony started making camera that bracketed AEB exposures by plus and minus 2 stops but there you are they don’t – at least the A100 doesn’t.

    I am in awe of your gorgeous pictures, and enjoy the nature subjects especially as that is my favourite theme.

    Once again thanks for you help and enjoy the rest of the weekend.

    PS – I threw my dresses away years ago as they no longer fit me.

    Mick (from the Norfolk flatlands)

  110. Dan says:

    Thanks Mick

    I also recommend graduated neutral density filters, if you ever fancy playing with them. I first got some a couple of years back, just before discovering HDR, and didn’t have the patience for them, but now I prefer them to HDR for landscape work, as you don’t get the same unreality problem.


  111. Paul Tutill says:

    Hi Dan, great tutorial and insite into HDR manipulation. Having recently been seduced by Panasonics GH1 I’m now wondering whether I’m likely achieve good results when I explore the HDR world – the stats indicate: Auto bracketing Frames of 7 – Minimum EV step (exposure value?) of 1/3 with Maximum step at 2/3; Max EV range with AEB at 4; with max burst rate at 3fps – am I going to be hamstrung before I get started? m. thanks great stuff tho

  112. Dan says:

    That sounds a lot better than my camera, so I’m sure you’ll be OK :)

  113. Dan says:

    The nice thing about HDR is that even if your pictures make crap HDRs, you have all those different versions of the pic to pick and choose from, and merge manually if that floats your boat.

  114. Paul Tutill says:

    thanks for that Dan – looking forward to getting started – I’m on MacOS (10.5) wheres the best place to get Photomatix Pro from – how to pay etc

  115. Dan says:

    I just got it straight from here


    I can’t remember how I paid – I suspect there’s just some secure credit card stuff once you check out – although you may as well get the free demo first, to see if you actually like it – that’s from here


  116. Paul Tutill says:

    thanks again – very helpful

  117. John Davis says:

    Like many here, I’ve been playing with HDR for a while (thanks for the introduction and discount code, btw). You don’t seem to post-process the RAWs before dragging them into Photomatix. I’ve found lots of shots suffer from noise (particularly in grey skies) which can’t be reduced enough by the programme, so I’ve first reduced noise using Raw Therepee, at the same time making a few other adjustments. After all, if your settings are wrong shooting RAWs (white balance, picture style etc.) you’re surely going to get an inferior result unless you deal with this before using Photmatix. I’ve also tried, after reading it somewhere, that saving your RAWs as TIFFs before processing in Photomatix, gives good results, though I don’t pretend to know why? Any thoughts?

  118. Dan says:

    It’s not something I’ve ever done, because every program I’ve used to work on raw files doesn’t actually alter the raw file, but rather stores the things you’ve done to the image in some way, so that when you export the raw to an image format such as jpeg or tiff, it looks right.

    I’m not certain this is the way it works, but it’s my understanding. Are you sure you are actually altering the raw files? If you are, could you tell me what you are editing them in?

  119. Dan says:

    Durr – i just noticed you said raw therapee – I’ll take a look at that.

  120. Dan says:

    I’m looking at Raw Therapee now, and I can’t see any way to save a raw file – which rather confirms my suspicions that the raws remain inviolate. Do you drag your raws into photomatix, or convert them into jpeg/tiff and drag them in?

  121. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, I’m making some adjustments in Raw Therapee (usually noise reduction, picture style and white balance – if necessary), before saving them as TIFFs and dragging these into photomatix. That way I’ve effectively done what I would be doing if I was editing a single RAW file before saving as a JPEG, leaving photomatix to do the HDR magic! I suppose what I’m saying is, if I mistaken shot in RAW using the wrong white balance and picture style and simply used the raw RAW in photomatix wouldn’t I be using three dodgy shots, increasing the chances of a duff result? As you can tell, I’m not great at getting my head round this stuff!

  122. Dan says:

    The thing with raws is that white balance isn’t so relevant, because you can tweak it losslessly after the fact (as opposed to JPEG where you lose detail if you do so). “Picture Style” is, I suspect, just whatever camera you are using choosing certain ISO, aperture and shutter settings for you depending on what option you choose. As I tend to work in AV or Manual, it’s not something I know much about, but suspect that’s the case.

    What you are saying is possibly a fine plan – if photomatix isn’t managing to pull a decent image out of your raws, then your way will probably give you a much better chance of getting a good result. Certainly, if you’re happy with your results, then do a happy dance – that’s what it’s all about after all.

    Noise tends to be a result of either high ISO or dark areas of the image being pumped up too high in brightness – so you might find it a little better if you stopped using those picture style modes, stuck to the lowest possible ISO (50 or 100 depending on your cam) and either take enough exposures to cover all the brightness range well, so that you don’t get any overpumped dark areas that will be noisy, or just be happy with adjusting the HDR so that some areas remain dark still in photomatix.

    You may or may not have noticed, but I’m far from an expert myself – I’m just sharing what little I do know and trying to help people along the way – so my advice is always best taken with a pinch of salt :)

    I’ll give your approach a go at some point, though – I might find I like it :)

  123. Anonymous says:

    It certainly doesn’t seem to be an exact science so I guess the old maxim ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ might be relevant here! Thanks for the advice (useful as ever).

  124. John Davis says:

    Sorry, just noticed I’ve posted anonymously in the last two posts!

  125. Andy says:

    My friend told me about HDR and I’d love to have a go. Can I do ot with an eos 400D

  126. Dan says:

    Yep – the 400d’s great for it. I started off on a 350d, which isn’t as good, and that was fine.

  127. Paul says:

    After seeing HDR for the first time, i was imedietly hooked and had to have a go.
    I am still waiting for the right kind of image to be taken, but i have been practcing with images of very little interest.
    But following your tutorial has made things a lot easier, as Photomatix pro has done.
    Such a foolproof program.


  128. Mitch Carter says:

    thanks for this fella, it’s truly spectacular!

  129. sam says:

    hello dan, let me start by saying your an amazing-intersting being for helping out and giving the opportunities to help us photography entreprenous to have something to help towards our start of our photography passion.
    I was wondering before i bought this promax can you have a basic dslr camera to be able to create hdr’s

  130. Dan says:

    Hi Sam

    As long as your camera is capable of taking pictures at different exposure lengths with the same aperture size, yes, any camera should do. It’s just a case of having dim, normal and bright versions of the same image, and processing them with the program.

  131. Dan says:

    If any of that doesn’t make sense, just ask and I’ll try to clarify :)

  132. Mark Hayward says:

    Fantastic guide man, many thanks opened up a whole new avenue for me, much appreciated

  133. kevin morgan says:

    Hi Dan, have looked at your site many times and feel as if I am now hooked. Would like your opinion on a technique I saw on another web site which said to take just one picture in raw and then to get the different exposures using the exposure slider in the raw converter on photoshop, saving each file to a folder so you can then pull them onto photoshop/photomatix. look foreward to hearing from you. Regards kev

  134. Dan says:

    Hi Kev

    It’s not something I’ve ever done – when I made a HDR I’ve always done it from a number of differently exposed raw files taken with AEB, as it seems to me that’s the way to get the optimum amount of detail in your final image.

    Whilst you can probably get a hdr-ish effect as you describe, you won’t be able to pull detail out of the image that isn’t there. It does have a place however – for images where you can’t, or for some reason didn’t – take multiple exposures.

    As I’ve never actually tried it, my advice is kind of worthless – it might be worth checking out this flickr group, which is dedicated to HDRs from single raws:



  135. stylllyfe says:

    I liked your tutorial and will definetly bookmark it.

  136. Paul Chapman says:

    Hi there I am having the same problem as another of your readers Copied and pasted as below Are you able to offer any help

    Hi, I am feeling quite exhausted with all these options and testing the HDR programme I just bought yesterday. I am quite fascinated with the dynamic colour range. BUT I am loosing in all my shots the clearity and Focus of the single shot. What am I doing wrong in the line-up?? Please can you advise.
    Thank you in advance for your help.
    Kind regards

  137. Dan says:

    Hi. That chap had noticed that some of his shots were out of focus BEFORE putting them through the HDR software. I have my focussing set to “one shot” if that’s any help. Once I told him that he went away to play again, and didn’t come back, so I’m not sure what his actual issue was :)

  138. Dan says:

    I’d get the three images (or however many there are) and really check them for problems carefully, whacking the brightness up and flicking through them quickly to see if they change. I can’t think of any way that Photomatix could change the focus.

  139. Guy says:

    My experience with simulating HDR by processing a single RAW image into 3 version (rare, medium, and well-done, so to speak) has brought limited success. I’ve done better using the Photomatix tonemapping plug-in for Photoshop on a single image.

  140. tom says:

    Where can I buy Promax HDR

    I do not want to down load

  141. Aaron says:

    Hey Dan, 2nd time I’ve tried to post! Let’s hope WP play’s nice this time!

    Just wanted to add my pennies worth of feedback – thanks for getting me inspired into HDR mate, I’ve learnt from the master!

    My stuff is junior in comparison to yours: http://www.aaron-photography.com/portfolio/hdr-photography

    Cheers, have a Merry Christmas!

  142. [...] HDR in Photoshop CS3 and CS4 TutorialExposure Blending TutorialMake an HDR Image from Multiple ShotsHDR Tutorial using Photomatix ProHDR Landscape Photography TutorialHDR Photography Using Layer Masks in PhotoshopCapturing and [...]

  143. kosala says:

    i was thinking buying a Sony WX1.
    can i make HDR photo using that camera?
    if yes,how can i

  144. Dan says:

    Hi Kosala

    Yep – you can do it on any camera that lets you vary the exposure time. It helps if the camera can do exposure bracketing, which this URL seems to say it can:


    the bit where it says “Bracketing (0.3, 07, or 1.0 EV steps)” indicates that it can do auto bracketing, which means you can take several pictures in quick succession with it automatically varying the exposure time for you.

  145. Tony Hewitt says:

    Hi, thanks for a very informative article. I trialled Photmatix and was impressed so I now have the full setup. I used to live in Woodhouse Eaves and spent a lot of time around the Wolds villages as well. I am just waiting for some decent light as I now live in Manchester!! Thanks again.

  146. Dan says:

    Aha! Thanks Tony. I’m over in Wymeswold now – nice countryside but it takes a bit longer to get over into charnwood forest, which I miss a bit. Have fun with Photomatix :)

  147. [...] 3. HDR Tutorial from dannorcott.co.uk [...]

  148. [...] Originally Posted by simmo Grumpygeorge & Soul of Nature, I will welcome all the help I can get. Been watching some CD’s that come free with the various camera magazines that demonstrate what can be done. Lot’s of things to learn but what a difference. George mentioned HDR , I have been looking at some tutorials and found this one very good Simmo , you can download the trial software if you wish ( good enough for practicing on ) and also get the code for 15 % off , but if not this still gives good instructions on HDR …..I think we are in the same boat HDR TUTORIAL HERE [...]

  149. Brian says:

    Like so many others, I did not really understand how to use HDR but your tutorial has made a big difference. Like someone else on this forum, I just tried it out in my garden and feel very encouraged to go out into the pretty parts of England neaer my home and take some more ‘photos. Thank you for all the trouble you have taken over this tutorial.

  150. Donna says:

    I really enjoyed this tutorial. Downloaded the Photomatrix demo and piddled with some pics all evening and have not a darn thing to show for it. My favorite part was the last few paragraphs: “3. Don’t lose heart!” I really needed that right about now! LOL! Thanks for the great info. I will indeed “keep plugging away!”

  151. Hi Dan,
    Down under is hot we are like human sausages well done. I’m just about to buy Aperture and not sure about using Photomatix or Hydra for Mac. Have to admit that Photomatic is everything you said it is. I’ve tested it as your sample on PC with same results.
    Thanks to for your time and effort that you have done for so many. I;m new to this game and it seems to keep me young and fit by going out and taking photos.
    regards to your family from down under.


  152. David Atkinson says:

    I’ve just started with h.d.r. and some times when I download pictures all I get is a screen full of noise is it something I am doing wrong any help would be appreciated. Great tutorial really enjoyed watching it

  153. Dan says:

    Hi David

    I’m not really sure. At what point does the screen full of noise appear:

    - Are the pictures broken when you download them from your camera to the computer?
    - Are they broken when put into photomatix and displayed as the preview that you tweak?
    - Or are they just broken at the very end of the process, when you produce the final jpeg or tiff from photomatix?

    The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is that your camera might produce raw files that your computer can’t read, and that the ones that come out OK are jpegs and the broken ones are raw – but that may be completely wrong :)

  154. Dave Pickering says:

    Is there a reason I can’t print my HDR images?

    The print icons are grayed out – CS3 on a MAC.



  155. Dan says:

    Hi Dave

    No idea I’m afraid – I don’t have photoshop. I can’t see whey there would be.

  156. [...] place for photographers, Learners may find this tutorial useful also ………………..HDR TUTORIAL HERE I don

  157. Kelly Marie says:

    Thank you! I’m a photography student and have been looking to get into HDR – but our lecturers are a bit choosy as to when they teach us specific stuff.
    This has really helped!

  158. Dan says:

    Glad to be of service ma’am. It’s a good thing to know how to do, but don’t go mad with it – HDR fatigue does set in after a while :)

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  160. Helly says:

    Hey , you said to spot meter… I understnad light metering but how do you do it on the camera? I have a D70 and have worked out which different settings you can having for light metering.. but how do you actually do it? Great tutorial by the way!!

  161. Anonymous says:

    Howdy – dan here (can’t find my login – on the wrong computer!)

    Anyhoo – if it’s on spot metering, when you point the camera at something, it’ll just be taking a very small sample of the middle of the viewfinder to work out the correct exposure. Point it at something you want to expose correctly (ideally on manual) and twiddle with your aperture/exposure dials until you have a correct exposure. Recompose your shot and shoot.

    On Canons, you can do this in AV/TV/P modes as well, and press the * button to “fix” the exposure it worked out in memory, and then recompose the shot and shoot again without losing the setting (i think it keeps it for 5 seconds or something). There’s probably something similar on your Nikon.

    It’s a funny old thing is Metering – it may seem like it makes no difference at all a lot of the time, but if you are patient about things it can work wonders to understand what’s going on.

    I should at this point admit that I’m not that patient, and do tend to forget what mine’s on nowadays :)

  162. Mel says:

    Hi, I was wondering about how to set iso when making HDR sets. I like to leave the camera on auto iso. Will this hamper my HDR shots, or should I turn the Auto Iso off? I have the same question about white balance, auto or manual? I really enjoyed your tutorial and your HDR images

  163. Dan says:

    Howdy Mel

    I always have it on IS100 (or whatever the lowest is) to get max picture quality, when I’m doing HDRs. I wouldn’t have it on auto, just in case it changed between the three pictures. The automatic bracketing thing may be clever enough not to vary it, but why tempt fate!

    White balance is less of a problem I think, as if you are doing raws, all the colour info is there and photomatix can make up its mind. It’s only when taking JPEGs that the white balance is a big problem, as it makes decisions about the image and saves them in a way that you can’t reverse. I think I tend to leave mine on AWB anyway – but I suspect that even in JPEG mode, it won’t be too much of a bitch, because the scene that is being taken is the same, so hopefully it’d choose the same or very similar white balance settings.


  164. [...] URL : HDR Tutorial with Photomatix. Description : The purpose of HDR photography is to show a higher range of detail than could ever [...]

  165. Eddy Lerpiniere says:

    Hi Dan

    I’ve not done any HDR of my own yet and I’d downloaded the trial version of Photomatix before I found your site, so I’m just saying I think I’m gonna like HDR as an expressive medium.

    My question is; using Photoshop Elements allows you to adjust the RAW image as if it were still in the camera. One of the adjustments is to change the exposure by up to 2 stops either way. If all I’ve got is a single RAW image and I change the exposure in Photoshop do you think this will provide the same images as taking them separately?


  166. don says:

    Thank you Dan I found your tutorial very interesting and usful, can’t wait to try it.

  167. Dan says:

    Thanks Don :)

    Eddie – no, they won’t be as good. In some cases, you might not be able to tell, but in most, you will I think. Pushing the exposure up or down in photoshop doesn’t create you any extra image information – as Photomatix works with the raws it has the ability to do that stuff itself, so whilst you might be able to get a sort of ersatz HDR that way, it’s not as good as the real thing. If you take three shots (or more) then you’re giving photomatix the ability to do have that same exposure leeway with all your shots, and so have a much wider range of detail information to build you up a good picture.

    People can get great results from single shot HDR though – it just depends on the subject. I’ve never had too much luck with it myself, but with all things, it’s worth a go to see if you like the results!

  168. Chris says:

    Hi Dan.

    Could you possibly drop me an email? I would like to discuss something with you. My email add is cskinner2005@hotmail.co.uk

    Thanks a lot


  169. Tony says:

    Hi Dan.
    Just looking at you tutorial, images & advice feedback…found it fascinating!!! I’ve a canon eos 450d and found some Q&A’s about how to use it to best effect regarding HDR shots…
    I’ve personally learned something new about my camera,so thanks.
    I will try my best to get an HDR shot as I find then amazing.
    Thanks Dan.

  170. Dan Roads says:

    Hi there Dan,

    Great website!
    Found this page very useful thanks.

    I was wondering if it’d be OK to have a link to it on my website?.
    Many thanks

  171. Jon M says:

    Hi Dan,
    Have been admiring some HDR pics done by a collegue without understanding the HDR process as discussed here; I have a 350d which sits in a cupboard but which I am now going to dust off and try HDR which I find extremely exciting. Thanks a million Google for leading me to you…….

  172. Jon Marshall says:

    Previously mentioned I had a 350d which is several years old now, given the updated technology and then a mid budget what camera/s would your experiences recommend as a good tool to start the HDR process


    Jon M

  173. Jon M says:

    Have now purchased photmatix and thanks for the 15% – my first 2 pics as per your instructions turned out great however also had a few failures but can’t wait to find some more subject matter and be creative – doing wonders for my previous bored state.

  174. Dan says:

    Hi Jon

    Sorry, I was away for the weekend!

    You’ll get along fine with the 350d – I used one and wouldn’t have changed had I not managed to break it. I now have a 450d which is better, but not orders of magnitude better. My friend Andy (whose blog is linked to from the right) has a 5D, and that is a big leap in quality, but also expense.


  175. Daphne says:

    I am physically having problems reading all your tutorial, so I don’t know if my question is within the body of your text. Could you tell me please, what is the best lighting situation to gather photos for HDR processing? Thank you

  176. Dan says:

    Hi Daphne

    I’m not sure I really know the answer – you might as well ask what the best lighting situation is to take a photograph full stop – there’s not a specific answer really.

    For HDR though, I guess it only really makes sense if you are trying to capture a scene which has a greater degree of brightness than a normal picture would faithfully reproduce, and either:

    - Physical filters aren’t available or won’t do the job (graduated filters etc)

    - You want to retain detail in all areas – dark shadows to bright highlights

    - You like the HDR effect and want to use it

    Not the neatest explanation in the world. When I was doing it a lot, I basically just took bracketed exposures for all the pictures I took, and then if I wanted to HDR them, I could.

  177. Ryan abbott says:

    awesome tutorial!!! love it

  178. Alan Kite says:

    Hi, I have been using Photomatix Lite and Pro trial versions and can confirm Dan’s findings that you get good HDR images from handheld and using bracketed exposures and continuous shooting mode in my Canon 350D. On a very few occasions the Lite version gave slightly fuzzy images but the Pro version results (from the same 3 source images) were great. This shows the benefit of the Pro version as it includes anti ghosting and for me, who will always be shooting handheld, it has convinced me to go for the more expensive version.

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