This month I’d like to introduce you to a really fun, creative and exciting computer program called Photomatix Essentials 3 that will help you control the exposure levels in your images. This stand-alone program available for Windows and Mac OS X can be purchased for $39 US which is a small investment when you start processing your digital photographs as high dynamic range (HDR) images. If $39 is still a little out of your budget, no worries—it’s available as a trial version as well.
We’ve all been in situations where the subject we want to photograph is in contrasting light and we fail to record the scene as we see it. It can be very frustrating when the highlights are blown out or the shadows are extremely dark and the camera just can’t seem to record them both accurately.
HDR imagery allows you to get the best out of the shadows and highlights of an image. Photomatix gives us the tools to use multiple exposures of the same scene and combine them into one image. The end result is rather extraordinary as you’ll see for yourself after using the program a few times.
I recently took a step back and revisited the basics with my own personal photography and exercised my exposure technique on a few Ring-billed gulls and crows at a local park. I like to photograph gulls in practice due to their white plumage and crows because of their black plumage—both can be tricky to expose properly in changing light and nearly impossible on bright sunny days when the sun is at its highest.
Some of my exposures were a little off so it was Photomatix to the rescue. As you can see in the image above, I bracketed three different exposures of a gull that I purposely created in camera with the plan of merging them in Photomatix. One image was shot at a normal exposure, one underexposed and the third overexposed. When I imported all three exposures into Photomatix and merged them into one image, I ended up with a HDR photograph.
Photomatix is very easy to use and is intended for those photographers new to HDR imaging. The software includes information on bracketed photographs, a video tutorial and user manual.
It also allows you to take your image one step further into the creative process by allowing you to adjust contrast, colour, brightness, sharpness and more goodies that I’ll let you discover on your own.
HDR software like Photomatix are tools that can be used by professionals and amateurs and will certainly find a place in your digital photography workflow. You won’t be disappointed by downloading Photomatix Essentials 3 today.