Assemble HDR sequences QTPFSGUI - Digital Photography School

Assemble HDR sequences QTPFSGUI

In the world of HDR imagery, Photomatix is the leading application. However, if you only occasionally need to assemble an HDR sequence, you can save your pennies and use the open source application, qtpfsgui. In this post I’ll show you where to find the application and how to get started using it:

HDR-QTPFSGUI-final.jpg

If you are starting out in HDR check out my earlier post to see how to capture your bracketed sequence of images to use for the HDR assembly.

Step 1

Visit http://qtpfsgui.sourceforge.net/download.php and download the appropriate version of qtpfsgui for your system. I’m using a Windows machine so I’ll download version 1.9.3 and I’ll choose the setup.exe version.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step1.jpg

Step 2

When you click the link, you’ll be taken to a download page where things rapidly go from simple to downright confusing. For the Windows install, scroll down to find All Files > qtpfsgui > 1.9.3 > Qtpfsgui-windows-SETUP-v1.9.3.exe and download and install that file.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step2.jpg

Step 3

Launch qtpfsgui and select New HDR > Load Images. Select the images in your HDR sequence. When they appear in the list you’ll see the program has guessed the exposure compensation used for each. If this isn’t correct – and it is seldom so in my experience, select each image and adjust the exposure compensation value manually by typing the value into the dialog. So, because my sequence was captured at 0.5, -1.5 and 2.5 I entered those values.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step3.jpg

Step 4

You can set the program to auto align the images by selecting Auto align images and then select the option to use – HUGI’s Align Image Stack or Medium Threshold Bitmap. My experience is that this fails spectacularly every time I try it – the program crashes and I have to start over, but your mileage may vary. If you have problems, bypass this and you can manually align them yourself shortly.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step4.jpg

Step 5

Click Next and wait as the HDR sequence is assembled. When your image appears, zoom out to see it all. Now you can fix any alignment issues. If you see white haloing around objects in your images you need to fix this. To do this, click each image in the editable images list and see if there is any haloing in that image.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step5.jpg

Step 6

If you see it, adjust the image using the arrows in the Shift Values for Editable Image area of the dialog. Move the image until the haloing disappears or is minimized. Continue to do this for all the images in the Editable list. From the Preview Mode dropdown list you can choose from various preview modes which can help you identify alignment problems. When your sequence is aligned, click Next and then Finish to assemble the HDR image.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step6.jpg

Step 7

This is the assembled image and, at this point, you can select Save HDR As and save the image as an HDR format file. Later you can open this in the program to work on it and you will not have to realign and re-render it.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step7.jpg

Step 8

Before you can actually use the image, you need to tone map it so select the Tonemap the HDR option to open the image ready for tone mapping.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step8.jpg

Step 9

To view one of the tone mapping options, select Fattal as the operator and click Apply. A small version of the image appears tone mapped to the specifications shown.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step9.jpg

Step 10

Change the image size by selecting a different size from the Result Size options and click Apply to create a second version of the tonemapped image.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step10.jpg

Each time you click Apply you get another image so the screen can start filling up very quickly. You will find larger size images take more time to render so start with small versions until you find an Operator and settings that work for you then render larger versions as you fine tune your settings. Here the larger size image is showing noise not apparent in the smaller image.

Continue to experiment with options by choosing different settings – sometimes small differences in values can result in sizeable differences in the images and you can also use other Operators if desired.

Step 11

Render the images you like at a good size and close any smaller versions or any images you do not like. While qtpfsgui has a Levels adjustment option, it is best to save this adjustment and do it in your editing program later on.

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step11.jpg

To save the images, click the Save or Save All button. Make sure to specify the folder you want the images saved into – on my computer, scarily, it defaulted to one of my Windows system folders – not where you would want to save them! Once saved, you can open the image in your favorite editor and work on it further there.

Step 12

To learn more about the various operators, how they impact an image and which you might use for what type of image, visit http://osp.wikidot.com/parameters-for-photographers

HDR-QTPFSGUI-step12.jpg

Read more from our Post Production category.

Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

  • http://www.reddotstudio.ch hfng

    Actually can anyone just write any article and post any images on DSP? Shouldn’t there be a quality control somewhere?

  • http://www.don-peterson.com Don Peterson

    What!? No Mac Version???

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerinthebox/ Jer

    Hahaha, these comments are hilarious. Plainly there is zero quality control going on here. DPS, your audience deserves better.

  • Seb

    Tutorials like this is why the web is polluted with bad and overdone HDR processing. Even thought the shot wasn’t the best example on how to make an HDR, it could’ve been way better (reading the comments here proves it).

    Come on DPS! You can do better than that…

  • Russell Phillippe

    I got the software and got an awful mess out of it… Could someone explain how they managed to get anything remotely workable out of it please? Rick seems to have got the hang of it!

    Its not that I’m lazy and don’t want to figure it out myself, literally nothing I slide up or down seems to improve the picture!

    Thanks :)

  • wizziewoo

    Sorry, but the end result looks like the pictures I would churn out during my “overproccessing” stage I went through half a year ago. My images were overly saturated and color-crazy to cover up for their many flaws, and I thought it was normal to have to rescue every image through editing……..thank heavens I got over that! Not that my work is awesome or anything. But I think forcing myself to get the quality in the image WHEN you are taking it, and not after during the editing process is very important.

    There are a lot of beginners on this site, photographers who are just starting out and eager to create beautiful images. Please do not encourage them to go the route I did and view editing as the most crucial part of a photo.

    Please do not take this the wrong way, DPS has been incredibly helpful to me, and a constant source of inspiration; it has also been my main source of instruction in photography. I greatly appreciate the time and work that goes into this, but please be careful what you are teaching. Bad habits are hard to shake off.

  • http://www.don-peterson.com Don Peterson

    I agree with wizziewoo. It’s so easy to use those sliders to “bring out” color and easy enough to overdo it. It’s a good idea to step back once in awhile, or even get up and walk away from your editing. When you come back it may look different to you. However, I shoot with the idea that I can bring out detail with programs like Photoshop and Lightroom so I will shoot to expose middle values, knowing i can bring out details in highlights and shadows later on the computer. This, of course, is similar to burning and dodging in the dark room only it’s more convenient, less messy, and quicker. I keep away from the saturation adjustment because it is so easy to overdo although a little tweaking with “vibrance” seems to help some images.

    I enjoy this forum immensely and have learned much through honest critiques since I first logged on here. And I look forward to continued enlightenment. Thanks.[eimg url='http://www.don-peterson.com/critique/ViewFromBoylePark.jpg' title='ViewFromBoylePark.jpg']

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/31040182@N06/ Enry

    Following this trial, I’m trying to do my first HDR but, when arrive to step 9, QTPFSGUI doesn’t charge my photo… and I can’t do my work…
    What do you think about this problem?
    Many thanks in advance and sorry for my bad English!!!

Some older comments

  • Enry

    August 27, 2010 05:56 pm

    Following this trial, I'm trying to do my first HDR but, when arrive to step 9, QTPFSGUI doesn't charge my photo... and I can't do my work...
    What do you think about this problem?
    Many thanks in advance and sorry for my bad English!!!

  • Don Peterson

    April 22, 2010 02:19 am

    I agree with wizziewoo. It's so easy to use those sliders to "bring out" color and easy enough to overdo it. It's a good idea to step back once in awhile, or even get up and walk away from your editing. When you come back it may look different to you. However, I shoot with the idea that I can bring out detail with programs like Photoshop and Lightroom so I will shoot to expose middle values, knowing i can bring out details in highlights and shadows later on the computer. This, of course, is similar to burning and dodging in the dark room only it's more convenient, less messy, and quicker. I keep away from the saturation adjustment because it is so easy to overdo although a little tweaking with "vibrance" seems to help some images.

    I enjoy this forum immensely and have learned much through honest critiques since I first logged on here. And I look forward to continued enlightenment. Thanks.[eimg url='http://www.don-peterson.com/critique/ViewFromBoylePark.jpg' title='ViewFromBoylePark.jpg']

  • wizziewoo

    April 22, 2010 01:45 am

    Sorry, but the end result looks like the pictures I would churn out during my "overproccessing" stage I went through half a year ago. My images were overly saturated and color-crazy to cover up for their many flaws, and I thought it was normal to have to rescue every image through editing........thank heavens I got over that! Not that my work is awesome or anything. But I think forcing myself to get the quality in the image WHEN you are taking it, and not after during the editing process is very important.

    There are a lot of beginners on this site, photographers who are just starting out and eager to create beautiful images. Please do not encourage them to go the route I did and view editing as the most crucial part of a photo.

    Please do not take this the wrong way, DPS has been incredibly helpful to me, and a constant source of inspiration; it has also been my main source of instruction in photography. I greatly appreciate the time and work that goes into this, but please be careful what you are teaching. Bad habits are hard to shake off.

  • Russell Phillippe

    April 21, 2010 01:13 am

    I got the software and got an awful mess out of it... Could someone explain how they managed to get anything remotely workable out of it please? Rick seems to have got the hang of it!

    Its not that I'm lazy and don't want to figure it out myself, literally nothing I slide up or down seems to improve the picture!

    Thanks :)

  • Seb

    March 16, 2010 05:32 am

    Tutorials like this is why the web is polluted with bad and overdone HDR processing. Even thought the shot wasn't the best example on how to make an HDR, it could've been way better (reading the comments here proves it).

    Come on DPS! You can do better than that...

  • Jer

    March 13, 2010 08:12 am

    Hahaha, these comments are hilarious. Plainly there is zero quality control going on here. DPS, your audience deserves better.

  • Don Peterson

    March 5, 2010 04:06 am

    What!? No Mac Version???

  • hfng

    March 2, 2010 07:32 pm

    Actually can anyone just write any article and post any images on DSP? Shouldn't there be a quality control somewhere?

  • Brandon Burns

    March 2, 2010 12:05 pm

    @vitaliy Thanks! Most of these captures are long exposures ~30 minutes after the sun sets. Feel free to email me any questions.

  • Werner

    March 1, 2010 06:25 pm

    Sorry, but that final result is horrible. It is a bad example of HDR.

  • Vitaliy

    February 28, 2010 04:56 pm

    @Brandon just saw your website. some inspiring work! do you have more somewhere? how do you capture that deep blue sky?

  • Brandon Burns

    February 28, 2010 03:44 pm

    HDR is a bandaid for a bad capture. Please don't encourage more bandaids.

  • Rick

    February 28, 2010 03:27 pm

    Good software, not a good tutorial here.

    This is an example of how I've used QTPFSGUI and GIMP:

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/rickscheibner/3499939856/' title='Shaniko Fire Truck HDR' url='http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3326/3499939856_68dc1206b6.jpg']

  • Michelle

    February 27, 2010 09:16 pm

    Is there anybody else on your staff, other than Helen Bradley, who can produce tutorials? I find most of her stuff laborious and mediocre. The first important thing is to use a suitable relevant image, as there should be a good reason to use the HDR technique.

  • alan

    February 27, 2010 07:38 am

    ugghh.. no more HDR. this is 3 articles in a row i've clicked this afternoon that have been absolutely awful.

  • Antonym Synonym

    February 26, 2010 01:45 pm

    Ewww!!

    This is one of THE most ugliest HDR image I've ever seen.

    This is what students do when they first set out to learn something.

    I am highly disappointed with DPS as many of us stick to DPS and learn a great deal from it. I wonder how many newbies must have read this and are already on their way to HDR destruction.

    To the author: I may sound rude, i am so genuinely sorry.
    Maybe you could have titled this as, basic HDR or something... (to save your skin..) ;)

  • Steve Moon

    February 26, 2010 03:07 am

    Hi Helen,
    Forgive me but the image is a little (!) overdone for me. Sorry.
    - Photomatix does have a free trial version for those who want to test it out first.
    - Halos can be burnt out in Photoshop if the HDR was intentionally overdone in the first place but you don't want the resulting halos.
    - The HDR (if saved as a jpeg) can be opened as a Camera Raw file in Photoshop with the right Camera Raw plug-in.
    I only say the above as I have done the above.
    Best wishes,
    Steve (@carmarthenshire)

    p.s. Trey Ratcliff is your man (@TreyRatcliff on Twitter) :o)

  • Richard Guy Briggs

    February 25, 2010 12:48 pm

    For those who are using Linux, we don't have the choice to buy a program that won't run on our systems, so I appreciate the work that has gone into qtpfsgui. I've used it for a number of images, of course starting out overusing it a bit. The technique that I learned from another open source proponent was to produce a number of different HDR images and stack them in layers on the original in a photo editting program such as the GIMP, setting the opacity as necessary to bring in enough of each type of HDR effect to achieve the desired result, even masking parts of the image if necessary.

    This tutorial was an example to get people started. It was perhaps not an image that could have benefitted from HDR processing a lot to start with. There were also a number of excuses made for things that didn't work for the author. I've had none of those problems under Linux. The hugin alignment works just fine.

    Those critiquing about halos, who posted their own HDR photos, seem to be pots calling kettles black. Some of your own photos have obvious halos in them too.

    Yes, there are lots of examples of poor HDR images out there, but there are also lots that you may not even be aware of.

    Beware of dirty imagers. HDR techniques can make imager dust specs much more obvious...

    Here are some of mine that were done using Linux/qtpfsfui/hugin/gimp:

    http://tricolour.net/photos/2008/07/25/22-36-25i3.html
    [eimg url='http://tricolour.net/photos/2008/07/25/med/22-36-25i3.jpg' title='22-36-25i3.jpg']

    http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/03/06/17-36-12i1.html
    [eimg url='http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/03/06/med/17-36-12i1.jpg' title='17-36-12i1.jpg']

    http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/03/14/14-59-15i1.html
    [eimg url='http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/03/14/med/14-59-15i1.jpg' title='14-59-15i1.jpg']

    http://tricolour.net/photos//2009/02/20/09-01-36i1.html
    [eimg url='http://tricolour.net/photos//2009/02/20/med/09-01-36i1.jpg' title='09-01-36i1.jpg']
    The only thing I don't like about this one above is the skin tones, otherwise, it did a great job of balancing the detail in the very bright snow with the detail in the very dark clothing in the tent.

    http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/07/03/17-11-02i1.html
    [eimg url='http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/07/03/med/17-11-02i1.jpg' title='17-11-02i1.jpg']

    http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/02/26/09-51-21i1.html
    [eimg url='http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/02/26/med/09-51-21i1.jpg' title='09-51-21i1.jpg']

    http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/02/26/09-52-54i1.html
    [eimg url='http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/02/26/med/09-52-54i1.jpg' title='09-52-54i1.jpg']

    http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/02/22/13-26-08i1.html
    [eimg url='http://tricolour.net/photos/2009/02/22/med/13-26-08i1.jpg' title='13-26-08i1.jpg']

  • James

    February 25, 2010 02:36 am

    Not really a fan of HDR. But this is a really bad resulting image - it's about as subtle as a punch in the face

  • Zack Jones

    February 24, 2010 10:12 pm

    I've been reading the comments with great interest. I find it's pretty funny how most of them are related to the quality of the image produced by the software (for the record I think they look terrible as well) but people have missed the point of the article. It's titled "Assemble HDR sequences QTPFSGUI" not "Critique the results of an assembled HDR sequence in QTPFSGUI". Re-read the article from the standpoint of "Assemble HDR sequences QTPFSGUI" -- did Helen explain the process clearly or not? If she didn't then let her know. If she did let her know that as well.

    I have some bracketed sequences I want to assemble as an HDR image and after reading the article I don't think I'll bother trying out QTPFSGUI. Instead I'll probably take a look at Hydra 2.2 since it now includes a LightRoom plug-in (http://www.creaceed.com/hydra/)

  • Klaus

    February 24, 2010 08:34 pm

    I'd like to suggest Enfuse.
    For the same price point of the QT one, it gives far better results. It's a command line tool (Open Source, IIRC) but there are a couple of GUIs around.
    That one, with Hugin to align the frames before the blending, it's the best HDR free tool I ever used.

    ;-)

  • Chris Turner

    February 24, 2010 07:43 pm

    Have to agree with everyone about the final image just being generally ugly.

    It's not a good scene to use HDR on to begin with, there isn't enough contrast and it just comes out looking washed out and over produced.

    I understand that you are getting other people to write for DPS, that's the brilliance of it, but at least use a good photo. I like the idea of using an open source program to do it without paying for Photomatix, but if this tutorial is trying to push this program out to people it's not done a very good job at all.

    Good idea, just the wrong photos to use.

  • Steve

    February 24, 2010 04:51 pm

    I'm sorry, and I don't want to see like I don't appreciate the work that goes into these articles, but I do have to echo two points which I have seen in the posts above.

    1. As people have mentioned, I often come to this site caught by a good headline in my RSS feeds only to find that the article covers some basic information which I at this point consider common knowledge, or at least something that you could figure out by just sitting and using the software (photoshop, photomatix, etc) for a few hours. It's not rocket science, it just takes a little time and common sense. I guess what I am saying is that I feel I have grown quite a bit in my skill level in both photography, and the software related to it, and I sometimes wonder of the skill level has progressed in the articles here.

    2. That HDR image is horrible. There is no nice way to say it. Again I hate to seem like I don't appreciate the work but it is what it is. HDR images like these are what breed a negative perception about HDR in general, which does have a time and place.

    I will go so far as to prove it. This is an HDR image taken during a recent trip to the Kennedy Space Center. The issue was getting three elements exposed correctly, those being the reflections i the water, the space shuttle and adjacent launch pad, and finally the lights in the sky.

    Again, let me close by saying I truly do appreciate all the work you and the other authors contribute to the community, but these are concerns I felt needed to be addressed.

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/privatecypher/4347238886/' title='_MG_9534_5_6' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2796/4347238886_64b0145597.jpg']

  • Vitaliy

    February 24, 2010 04:44 pm

    @Jason
    I am not on flickr (not convinced yet) and I am from NH, so I guess there is another Vitaliy you know!

    Thank you very much for your detailed response. Also, I think you are doing a great job sharing what tools and methods you used for your images on flickr. Not everyone does it and it is helpful!

    I am new to photo editing. So far Lightroom has done all the basics that I need very well. I cannot say that I know all the functions of the Lightroom, but I do see some things that may be limiting in the future. I thought that if I would get Photoshop that it would be all I need in this department. But seems like on top of Photoshop you use some dedicated programs like "Nik Color Efex Pro 3" and "Silver Efex Pro". Do they offer you more flexibility and control? Are they just easier to use?
    Any lessons you learned in photo editing?

  • Mark

    February 24, 2010 01:08 pm

    Helen, I may be a bit blunt with the comment i am about to write, but i do feel it is necessary to write it.

    While I understand it may be your livelihood to write these articles, but i do often find your articles to have one of two things: really bad example images or not sharing any useful information to those who use the programs you talk about often. I would really like to see some more challenging or hidden aspects of these programs (particularly lightroom)

    While i understand there are a lot of beginners who use this site for information, I do think it's a bit condescending to the advanced users who read through your articles only to find they knew it all already.

    I learned lightroom by myself, using simply a basic photoshop knowledge, which i also learned to use myself. it wasn't that hard to do actually, and after maybe an hour i learned how to do all the things i've ever read in your articles, after and before they were written. I do find it wasteful and boring to read an article that looks advanced but really is for beginners.

    i guess i'm giving you a challenge. give me a tutorial with great results that is really challenging and obscure and do it more often!

  • jc

    February 24, 2010 11:07 am

    All I have to say is all that needs to be said about both this post and about HDR in general:
    There is a REASON it is called the "HDR Black Hole". It makes you a worse photographer.

    End of story.

  • Nikki

    February 24, 2010 06:04 am

    Have to agree with Channelf...QTPFSGUI is not the problem here. There are hundreds of examples of stunning HDR images on the Flickr QTPFSGUI site -- the problem is a matter of knowing how to use the program. Perhaps to be fair to QTPFSGUI, DPS should publish another tutorial on QTOFSGUI by someone who has more experience and skill in using it.

  • Judy

    February 24, 2010 06:04 am

    Sorry, but this is just ... bad. How many other tutorials on here aren't up to par? I'm a newbie to photography, but even I can see that this final image is pretty terrible. Sorry :(

  • megan v

    February 24, 2010 04:46 am

    Oh, I forgot to mention that I used Photoshop to process my HDR images and it worked just fine. Easy, in fact!

  • megan v

    February 24, 2010 04:44 am

    I'm new to photography and will say upfront that I do not know everything. I've been reading DPS for about 4 months now since I've gotten my first DSLR. I've never commented on the tutorials because usually I just use them for the help they give and go on my way. But I was kind of shocked by this tutorial because even to ME, that "after" shot looks really bad. I've tried a few HDR photos (ignoring the gimmicky debate, I wanted to try a new challenge) and my results have been ok! This after shot looks, just awful, and that doesn't even look like the kind of scene you'd want or need to use HDR on. Am I right? Normally it's a scene in which there are very bright and dark areas, so you can see the detail in both areas once you bracket. AND...with a program "name" like QTPFSGUI... huh?? Will anyone on earth be able to remember this? Uh. No. Come on DPS... keep inspiring us, not confusing us!

  • Aleksdem

    February 24, 2010 04:38 am

    After:

  • Aleksdem

    February 24, 2010 04:29 am

    I tried Qtpfsgui and I liked the speed and simplicity of this tool!

    Before:

    After:

  • Frank Miller

    February 24, 2010 03:49 am

    I don't have a problem with glowing HDR images - I think that is part of the point. Yes, in some cases it may help you to get around some of the limitations of the camera in showing a scene, but in many cases it is used create an impressionistic effect.

    You may or may not like that use of HDR, but it's important to understand that the effect may be intentional so that you know if your are criticising the technique or the artistic approach.

  • Eric Fry

    February 24, 2010 03:48 am

    I've tried this program before; it stinks, and there's no way to get around it. If you want the Photomatix 'feel' to an image, then you'll have to buy Photomatix; the HDR in PS just won't do it that way.

  • Tyler

    February 24, 2010 03:33 am

    I rarely use HDR. It is become a cliche and a gimmick. It goes along with the old saying. If you can't make it good, make it big, if you can't make it big make it in color. HDR goes in there somewhere. Like any photo tool, there can be too much of a good thing. I will add my me too to the comments, but I have a contribution as well.

    That said..... Hugin is a great app that can do HDR and panoramic stitching.

  • Remington

    February 24, 2010 03:27 am

    @ The World in 35mm:

    Stupid is a tad harsh. HDR is another form of expressing a creative output no different from black and white, photo art, photo painting, compositing, etc.

    Restraint is the word I suggest to those who embark on HDR photography so that their images don't glow all the time. I've said this many times before, the best HDR images I have seen were ones that I did not know were HDR until I was told.

    Cheers!

  • vanou

    February 24, 2010 03:06 am

    Pure, clown vomit.
    There are great HDR pictures out there... but this tutorial and the result, are TERRIBLE.

  • channelf

    February 24, 2010 02:35 am

    Unfortunatelly with the given result this looks like an article against QTPFSGUI !

    The name ? it says it all : a GUI written in QTP to a set of tools called fs... (and if you prefer Photomatix because it sounds better that's your problem...)

    Readers should head to the Flickr group : http://www.flickr.com/groups/qtpfsgui/ (and read the discussion there !) to get a real idea about what can be achieved with this wonderful tool !
    (all my pictures are processed using only open sourced tools and qtpfsgui is the tool that comes in for HDR).

    Also do a search on http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/forums/search.php?searchid=2479 for "qtpfsgui notes" by author David who's been extensively testing all operators and sharing his findings.

    And by the way on my Linux machine Auto Align Images works wonders !

  • hfng

    February 24, 2010 02:33 am

    Hello halo. Agree with everyone else. Sorry Helen.

  • The World in 35mm

    February 24, 2010 02:25 am

    HDR is just stupid at this point. HDR images belong only on 4chan.org...

  • techpriester

    February 24, 2010 02:16 am

    Sorry, but the final result of this tutorial is exactly the kind of work, that earned HDR its bad reputation.
    The ugly halo on top of the trees, the unrealistic (as in non-exsistent) contrasts and the pseudo-impressionistic-painting look.
    This just looks like cranking up some sliders in Photomatix to make an image look more "special" while destroying all the details and colors.

    I'm used to much better work around here ...

  • Jeff Closs

    February 24, 2010 02:13 am

    Helen, I usually love your tutorials - this one just didn't do it for me.

    It felt as though you weren't very familiar with your subject, and the constant corrections needed about the program (it does this poorly, this breaks it, it saves wrong here) should serve as reminders to either buy something good or wait until open source has matured enough to be useful to those who are photographers first, and not engineers. (and yes, I'm a computer tech, followed along fine, but most might not.)

    Thanks for the time, but I'd have loved to see another processing tutorial from you instead.

    Cheers.

  • Helen Bradley

    February 24, 2010 02:12 am

    For my money, Photomatix is excellent and I use it for assembling most of my HDR sequences (and I have posted a how to on it previously).

    However, not everyone has a spare $39/$99/$119 to throw at a professional program to do the work - that's a steep price if you're just 'interested' in seeing how HDR works.

    So, if you want to learn a bit about how HDR images are put together and the process of tone mapping them - qtpfsgui is a free program that will guide you through the steps.

    Then, if you decide HDR is for you and you have the cash, I'd recommend shelling out for a program like Photomatix.

  • Jason Collin Photography

    February 24, 2010 02:10 am

    @Vitaliy thank you--do we know each other from flickr? Are you in NYC?

    My workflow for HDR is really simple. I use the default settings in Photomatix. The finished product there looks very dull and flat, but then I just use my regular photoediting workflow from there to add pop.

    I have seen no difference in using RAW or JPG images in Photomatix, so my normal process is to make a 7-bracket and lately 9-bracket set of images and just drag and drop them into Photomatix, check the align features box in the initial dialogue, then just use the defaults throughout the rest of the process.

    I use such large brackets to cover more area of the dynamic range of any particular shot. It may or may not be necessary to do so based on the light that you are shooting in, but I think it never hurts to shoot more. I think a lot of people only shoot a 3-bracket burst because it's all their cameras can do. My camera (Nikon D300) can do a 9-bracket burst.

    I use Aperture to process the HDR image out of Photomatix, and use the Nik Color Efex Pro 3 plugin a lot after that. Then maybe some sharpening in either Nik's sharpening plugin or CS4. If something needs to be cloned out, I use CS4 also.

    I think the key to HDR is just using a very stable tripod, which I do not even have myself at this time, and a cable release, especially when doing 5+ bracket shots. Then use Photomatix's settings as you wish to get the tonal contrast style you like out of the shot. I know perhaps many people use the "grunge" setting in Photomatix which produces a very tone mapped looking shot. In some cases that can be very appealing. For a more "real" looking shot, I think just stick with the defaults.

  • Richard Haber

    February 24, 2010 02:09 am

    I think that the word used in the title of this posting explains it all: "Assemble. It is the same as referring to digital photos as 'captures', as if the whole process is a technical exercise with no sense of vision or artistic purpose.

    The techniques of HDR have value when used as part of the photographer's toolbox, but as a hammer is not cabinet making, neither is any of these techniques, when used on its own, photography.

    I have taken too many pictures where the best that could be said was, "Nice Exposure...".

  • yNovak

    February 24, 2010 02:03 am

    I guess the picture was clearly over-processed to show the result in the small size capture. HDR can be usefull in some tricky situation (like high contrast) and can lead to pretty natural results far from the hyper tragical ugly pictures.

  • TheKingInYellow

    February 24, 2010 01:58 am

    Not to pile on here, but I have to pile on here. The final result is just not attractive to me.

  • Vitaliy

    February 24, 2010 01:55 am

    @jason
    I liked your HDR photos. Could you share some quick tips and perhaps a link to a good tutorial? I did not get into HDR yet, but i know if done right it can produce good results. For image editing I am using Lightroom 3 Beta. I guess Photomatrix will be a necessary addition. Btw, why do you use 5 or 7-bracket? I usually hear of 3-bracket HDR.

  • scott

    February 24, 2010 01:41 am

    this has to be one of the worst hdr articles ever written. have you done this before helen, cause it sure does not look like it. some of my hdr work is here: vhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/lightshootedit/sets/72157622789456398/ and there are not glaring halos on it or huge noise issues. use photomatix, it is worth the money.

  • Jason Collin Photography

    February 24, 2010 01:17 am

    I would find it hard to use any program with a name that is just a jumble of letters. At first I thought the title of this page was a broken link of some kind.

    @Jim, yes the halo around the tree/sky border is a result of bad processing.

    So many steps! Why not just use Photomatix which is super simple and based on this tutorial produces better results.

    HDR is huge in photography now, and if you at least do not know how to do it, it's like being a snowboarder in a halfpipe competition not being able to do a double cork, you just aren't going to be able to compete. That is if you are interested in pursuing the paying areas of photography that are really interested in HDR--i.e. the real estate market is totally interested in it.

    Also, galleries are very interested in HDR work. I have an HDR print going into the city's (Saint Petersburg) history museum as part of a past/future exhibition.

    Some of my HDR work can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jasoncollin/tags/hdr/

  • Kevin

    February 24, 2010 01:17 am

    *puke* As if we need more poorly done HDR images flooding the intarwebs. Thanks a lot.

  • Greg Taylor

    February 24, 2010 01:08 am

    I don't understand everyone's draw to HDR. In my opinion HDR and Bokeh were the two most overrated - overused forms of photography in 2009 - looks like it may continue in 2010. Again, just my opinion.

  • kelvin

    February 24, 2010 01:06 am

    TOTALLY agree with jim poor there. Sometimes i just feel that it's a waste of time for me going thru these hideos tutorials

  • Nai no Kami

    February 24, 2010 01:01 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with the first posters: halos are bad and I even think that is not an HDR photo. That is what has been massively known as HDR. HDR is supposed to emulate a film with high dynamic range. When you shoot a backlit subject, you get a silhouette or a dark subject; but when you look at it, with your eyes, you don't (or, at least, not in the same way your photo will end). This is because our eyes-brain compensate the difference allowing us to perceive things with high dynamic range. HDR should reflect this: it should show images with even exposure despite adverse lighting conditions. Unfortunately, it has become a synonym for halos and over-contrasty, edge-highlighted images.

  • Renaars

    February 24, 2010 12:52 am

    I'm going to be honest. The result is just ugly.

    This is an excellent example of how not to use HDR (but you're not alone, most usage of HDR is overkill).
    The picture (or scene) you started with hardly needs any HDR processing at all.
    Gone is the realism. Say hi to yet another overdone HDR image.

  • Jim Poor

    February 24, 2010 12:34 am

    Is that "lovely" glow around the trees a result of bad processing or a bad program?

    I hate to sound curmudgeonly, but DPS should really tighten up the quality control of these "tutorials" a bit.

  • Danferno

    February 24, 2010 12:26 am

    Halo's + Photographs = Bad

    HDR is a nice way to get an even exposure, but please, don't go all berserk on it.

  • IntrepidSilence

    February 24, 2010 12:25 am

    Is this the best that qtpfsgui can do? The finished image you are showing here has major halos, which is a known problem of very bad HDR adjustment. HDR construction can be very helpful and the results can be amazing without looking unnatural. If this is the best that qtpfsgui can do, it would be worth spending the money on something like Photomatix (which I use all of the time and know for a fact you can get professional results from.)

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