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Old Oct 12, 2010, 9:47 AM   #1
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Default Psuedo-HDR comparisons

In a spirit of scientific enquiry because I'd like to know what improvements to make to AutoHDR and where the commercial packages might be better/worse in the limited area of single image pseudo-HDR, I'd like to see what others can do with this sample image with the various packages you have at your disposal. In each case I'd be interested in what you did to the image, how complicated it was (in terms of things you had to do vs. what was automatic), how long it took and why you like the results.

The image is a high-quality JPEG but only 540x720 pixels so no need to resize. I'd recommend posting results in a lossless format so they don't lose quality from further jpeg compression and it's a fair comparison.



As a starter, I've processed it with AutoHDR on the 'Detailed' preset which is my personal favourite. The processing took 11s but I did then redo it several times to make sure it was the best result so in all it probably took a couple of minutes work. I didn't do anything else to it.
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Old Oct 12, 2010, 2:10 PM   #2
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Funny you bring this up, I was just working on an HDR of a tree in my backyard and I found the results from AuoHDR to be better than with 5 exposures through Photomatix.
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Old Oct 13, 2010, 7:50 PM   #3
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Iowa jim,
That's what I would have expected. Multiple images means a lot more noise.

Martin, here's a quick edit with Sagelight. A RAW would have given much better results.




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Old Oct 13, 2010, 8:28 PM   #4
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That Sagelight rendition is totally blown out.
Just tweaking lighting with PS8 (not that i like it over Martin's AutoHDR):


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Old Oct 13, 2010, 10:15 PM   #5
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I've been running Luminance HDR on Linux. You'll have to bear with me since I've not been doing this long. They released a new version Monday, so I thought I'd see how it would work for Martin's challenge. I wasn't even sure it would do one image, but it seemed to handle it ok.

The workflow is pretty straight forward if a little clunky. I saved off the image from Martin's post, and selected it in the dialog box. I got warning that it couldn't find the EXIF data and that I needed to set the EV manually. I did that and it created an HDR image that I could tonemap. Luminance has 9 algorithms with various settings - and nearly zero documentation, so it's mostly trial and error. Below are the ones I ended up with that I liked best. It is interesting in that the algorithms I liked best for this set doesn't include the algorithm I usually prefer for my multi-image HDRs. (I still haven't figured out how to indicate individual pictures, but the images below are Durand, Drago, Mantiuk, and Fattal algorithms)
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Old Oct 13, 2010, 10:48 PM   #6
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BTW, PCWorld's Digital Focus recently posted an article on "Improve Your Exposure in Tricky Lighting" which described how to use a single image in Photoshop and mimic HDR effects. I posted a comment pointing to your site, Martin, because it created a better image in far less time and with far less work.
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 2:04 AM   #7
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Thanks guys. Of the alternatives posted so far I think I still like the AutoHDR(Detailed) best, closely followed by the Luminance HDR(Fattal) version. I'd be interested in what DynamicPhotoHDR, easyHDR and Photomatix can do if anyone feels like trying them out on it.

mgvh - thanks for the plug. I think looking at his final version he's also filled in the blown highlights in his clouds when he's merged his two layers because there's definitely no information there in the original.
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 8:33 AM   #8
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just a quick (i.e. 30-second) pass through the ReDynaMix plug-in. very simple... just open the image, adjust the sliders for strength, smoothness, dynamic radius, and colors. if you like, you can also fiddle with contrast, hue, gamma, and a couple of other things. i could have easily increased the effect, but wanted to keep it as natural-looking as possible and just bring out some details in the shadows...

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Old Oct 14, 2010, 2:03 PM   #9
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Martin, about 50% of the time autoHDR shuts down on me and up pops one of those send/don't send error messages...Any idea why this is happening?
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 9:37 PM   #10
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The latest version seems to do that to me when I load a really big file in excess of 30 meg or so.
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