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Old Jun 14, 2009, 12:17 PM   #1
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Default HDR and Photoshop Elements 6.0

I was experimenting with the Photomatix "Basic" (free) HDR program and learned something that will keep my from buying a stand alone HDR program unless I am really misunderstanding something.

The high dynamic range files created by all HDR software creates .HDR file types. Granted, I understand Elements does not create HDR files. But it doesn't even open them for editing or viewing.

This is a deal killer for me unles the full Photomatix program (or any HDR program) has a conversion feature that the "Basic" program does not have. I want to be able to open, organize, and tweak any file type, jpg, hdr, tiff, raw, etc all in one place in Elements.

What am I missing? Lightroom?

Last edited by gfmucci; Jun 14, 2009 at 12:32 PM.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 2:32 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gfmucci View Post
...I want to be able to open, organize, and tweak any file type, jpg, hdr, tiff, raw, etc all in one place in Elements.

What am I missing? Lightroom?
"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride"

PS/Elements can't handle true HDR files, period. There is no way to make it handle them.

True HDR files are very high bit depth files, typically 32bits per pixel, and PS/E can only handle 8bpp and 16bpp files. PS/E's ability to handle even 16bpp files is rather limited; many functions won't work.

Simply reducing 32bpp HDR files to 16bpp or 8bpp almost always leaves rather unsatisfying results. After creating the HDR image, a second more valuable step must be performed before the image can be reduced to the more common 8bpp needed for printing or display. That step is called "tone mapping". Its tone mapping that's the magic, not HDR itself.

If you want to use PS/E for your final retouch, resize, and printing you will need to find an HDR+Tone Mapping application, or set of apps, that can output a 16bpp or preferably 8bpp TIFF or PSD for importing into PS/E.

There are a number of good articles/essays on HDR and Tone Mapping here:

http://handbook.outbackphoto.com/sec...ing/index.html
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 7:21 PM   #3
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Once you create your HDR photo in Photomatix you simply save it as a jpeg. Then you can do whatever you want with it in any program that handles Jpegs. It works the same way as Photoshop. When you create a file in Photoshop you can save it as a .psd file which can only be opened in Photoshop. But if your file is finished you save it as a jpeg or a tiff.
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Old Jun 14, 2009, 9:56 PM   #4
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Looks like I'm ridin'. That's whats so great about this forum. Beggars ask, get inspired by some of the responses and ride off in educated bliss.

After some research this afternoon I learned a few new things:

1) The free Photomatix I was using does not save to jpeg. The tiff it saves to is a "floating point tiff" that Elements does not recognize - either that or I was doing something wrong. For these reasons, I eliminated that program. It was limited to combining only two photos anyway.

2) I discovered another free program, FDRTools. This program has many times the features of the basic Photomatix including both HDR and tone mapping with numerous adjustment options and capacity to merge many more than the two image limit of the mini-Photomatix. Plus, it allows user selectable automatic saves to the editor of your choice via a much wider variety of formats, including jpeg and tiff 8 and tiff 16, all of which Elements recognizes.

There are several books on the topic worth skimming through which I did this afternoon:

Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Digital Photography (A Lark Photography Book) by Ferrell McCollough

Mastering HDR Photography: Combining Technology and Artistry to Create High Dynamic Range Images by Michael Freeman

The HDRI Handbook: High Dynamic Range Imaging for Photographers and CG Artists +DVD by Christian Bloch

...among others. These books provide a great overview of the pros and cons of the 6 or 7 HDR programs out there. All have trial versions. Some have scaled back free versions, such as FDR Tools - some scaled back less than others such as FDR Tools - with a very helpful online manual. FDR is definitely worth looking at and playing with.

Last edited by gfmucci; Jun 14, 2009 at 10:00 PM. Reason: correct book references
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