09 May, 2015

Lightroom CC - HDR

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Mouth of Moreton Bay from Bribie Island, Queensland [click to enlarge]

I'll be talking about some of the features of the new Lightroom CC (one at a time); but even in their sum they won't constitute a full review. This post is about High Dynamic Range (HDR). If you're not a Lightroom user, then this won't be useful to you. Sorry.


I've been using the HDR program, Photomatix Pro, for some time now. And while it seems to me that Photomatix affords much more control, having HDR so readily available as a direct menu item within Lightroom is very convenient.

Photomatix was also easier to use than making a trip to Photoshop. I think that if you've been happy with Photoshop for your HDR, then you're more likely to be happy with the built-in Lightroom feature.

First, an admission. I'm not a serious tone mapper. When I use HDR it's only to extend the exposure range. I only want to see and capture the world, not create it. Creating the world is a noble endeavour, it's just not mine.

If you want to see great (highly mapped) HDR images, visit, TreyRatcliff.com,or his site, "Stuck in Customs." I love Trey's intensity, flash and colour. (He's also a Sony user.)

So, if tone mapping is your thing, I don't think you're going to be satisfied with Lightroom's HDR. If you just want to experiment with extending the range, then the new feature is so easy to use and preview, you'll find it very useful — as I do.

I've been known to lay a heavy hand on Lightroom's clarity and vibrance sliders, but that's the exception. Alternatively, when I've bracketed to do HDR, I've occasionally found that the "overexposed" image (if no needed highlights were blown) had enough range to do the job. 

We won't have another "Expose To The Right" (ETTR) discussion here, but the current crop of sensors are really great. (I've set my A7II so that moving to custom 1 on the PASM dial keeps everything the same, except that it does three shot bracketing: unadjusted, two stops up, two down.)

It will be interesting to see whether I upgrade Photomatix at the next jump.

After creating an HDR in Lightroom, the relevant sliders in the "Develop" module have increased adjustment ranges to accommodate the new range of the image. It's also nice that Lightroom HDR works from DNGs, and returns a DNG. Returned DNGs have an appended "HDR" to the end of the existing name, making them easy to find. I didn't much mind, however, going into TIFF using either Photomatix or Photoshop. DNG is a wrapper for what is essentially a TIFF file anyway.

1 comment:

Daddy said...

Perhaps, the main change is that Lightroom "learned" to use the discrete graphics cards, which led to repeated increases in the rate. To describe it in words seriously... it should be easier to see. http://besthdrprogram.com/ it can be the main LR competitors I think