Preparing to Merge
HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography has become a popular technique over the past ten years and is being used more and more. This process involves taking three photos of the same image at different, bracketed exposures in order to capture both the highlights and shadows of an image. Using post-production, HDR software like Photomatix Pro 3.1 will allow anyone with a digital camera to create these brilliant photos.
After launching the software, you’ll click on the Generate HDR Image button on the pane to the left. Then, you’ll need to select the source images that you’ll be merging into one HDR photo. You can browse for these images, but I find it easier just to drag and drop the three photos from Finder into the box (If you’re using a Mac). Click OK. The photos above are the ones that we will be merging. As you can see, one is properly exposed, one is overexposed, and the other is underexposed.
When the Options window appears, Align Source Images is already checked by default, correcting horizontal and vertical shifts. Usually it makes sense to leave these at the default. If I have an image that has very distinct shapes and features, I will change it to align the source images by matching features.
If you’ve taken a photo where there was some movement in the image, HDR can be tricky because the object will take on a “ghost" effect. Ghosting artifacts occurs most commonly with people, animals, nature (trees, clouds, water), and other objects that can blow in the wind or move. Luckily, Photomatix Pro offers a feature in their Options page to Attempt to Reduce Ghosting Artifacts which can significantly help stabilize those images and reduce that effect.