This is the third and last part of my HDR tutorial. The first part gave an introduction to HDR, and the second part explains how to take the photos for the HDR image. This part explains how to use tone mapping software to merge the differently exposed shots into a single HDR image.
After you have read the first 2 parts and have taken at least one series of images, let’s now merge them into a single HDR image.
Which HDR software should I use?
This is a matter of taste, and it does not make a large difference. Popular options include Photomatix Pro, Luminance HDR, Easy HDR, and many more. Search the internet for something like ”, and you will find countless options. They implement very similar tone mapping algorithms, but often differ in other features like ghosting (to cope with moving objects), image alignment quality, and the user interface / ease of use. You can choose whatever software you want.
But if you are just getting started with HDR and are unsure how much time you are gonna spend with it, you may want to go with a free software first. So this tutorial uses the free software Luminance HDR, Version 2.4.0. Download it now, it’s free!
In case you have no photos to use yet, feel free to these 3 example shots I took:
Merging the shots in Luminance HDR
The process is similar in other HDR software as well: load the input shots, select a tone mapping method, and adjust parameters. It should by really self-explanatory after reading the articles here, but still, here is how to do it step by step:
Load the images
In Luminance HDR, click ‘New HDR image’. The following window will show up. Click the green plus (+) button and add your image series (you can use multi-select to add all 3 shots at once):
Luminance HDR offers auto-align/crop and anti-ghosting features in in the lower part. You can use the auto-align features in case the images have not been taken with exactly the same point of view to align the images (this is also known as image registration). If you align the images, you should also have Luminance HDR auto-crop them, unless you want to do this yourself in other software later.
Anti-ghosting tries to fix errors introduced by moving objects, but the results vary and you may have to play around with the parameter a bit.
Once you have loaded the images and and are ready, click Next. You can set the different tone mapping parameters. Previews of some presets are shown on the right, click them to apply these settings. Here is the Luminance HDR user interface, with the sample image from the last part of this tutorial loaded:
And here is one possible resulting HDR image I created:
That’s it, thanks for reading this!
Btw: If you want to do me a favor, avoid the last 3 presets (or at least do not mass-upload arbitrary shots modified with them to photo websites).