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What is your HDR workflow?

Camairish e2
9 1.3k Scotland
6 Mar 2012 5:50PM
I'm interested in the HDR process and wondered what workflow people use from the processing of the original RAWs through to the output of the final image. It's not the minutiae I'm after but more the software used and at what stage you make the major adjustments.

Many thanks,


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Zatoichi 5 707 United Kingdom
6 Mar 2012 6:04PM
Hi Ian, lots of people will recommend Photomatix (where you stack the images and it gives you various images to play with) to you, thereafter my editing is done in Lightroom. There is other software available but Photomatix is easy to use.

User_Removed 12 2.8k 11 United Kingdom
6 Mar 2012 6:24PM
Ditto. Wink
User_Removed 5 4.6k 1 Scotland
6 Mar 2012 6:40PM
The workflow, for me, depends upon how I intend to process the final image.

Let me explain.

My normal software for HDR is Adobe Lightroom and Nik HDR Efex Pro (much better imho than Photomatix but, regrettably, also more expensive).

For the sake of argument, let's assume that I have taken 3 bracketed exposures at 2-stop intervals (sometimes I might take 5 or 7 at 1-stop intervals or some other variation).

I will download the Raw files from my memory card to my computer using Lightroom to do the download and, simultaneously, import the file references to my LR catalogue.

What I then do depends upon two things:

1. Whether my intended final image is colour or monochrome

2. Whether the "middle" exposure looks reasonably OK. If the middle exposure looks noticeable underexposed or overexposed, I might apply a third or two-thirds of a stop of adjustment to all the exposures in LR before proceeding.

Then, if the final output is to be a colour HDR, I will simply right click all the exposures, let LR take them into HDR Efex Pro (or Photomatix) and process the HDR. When I re-import the resultant HDR Tiff into LR, I will then make any other adjustments that look necessary (the most common is using the spot healer on dust spots that become more obvious in HDR images.

For black and white, I will often batch process the exposures in LR to saturate the colours slightly before taking them into HDR Efex Pro and then proceed as above. Once I have my HDR Tiff, I will take it from LR into Silver Efex Pro and convert to mono.. The reason for doing this last is that the more colour information I have in the image, the better able is Silver Efex to make a great mono image. The same would apply if I did not use Silver Efex and was doing the mono conversion in LR. Being able to manipulate the colour channel info separately at the conversion stage is vital for good mono work.

Camairish e2
9 1.3k Scotland
6 Mar 2012 6:56PM
Interesting Leftforum - I use both Lightroom and Silver EFEX Pro, I'll check out their HDR program in the hope it's as user friendly as silver EFEX. I take it that HDR EFEX Pro does the merging and tone mapping leaving you to do whatever else in LR (for colour images)?
Many thanks for that,

User_Removed 5 4.6k 1 Scotland
6 Mar 2012 7:17PM

Quote:Interesting Leftforum - I use both Lightroom and Silver EFEX Pro, I'll check out their HDR program in the hope it's as user friendly as silver EFEX. I take it that HDR EFEX Pro does the merging and tone mapping leaving you to do whatever else in LR (for colour images)?
Many thanks for that,


The main advantage of HDR Efex Pro over Photomatix, in my opinion Ian, is that it uses Control Points (which you will be familiar with from Silver Efex Pro). That allows you to apply different strengths of HDR effects and, indeed, different effects, to different portions of the image.
ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
6 Mar 2012 11:32PM
come to Leeds on sunday and I'll show you how I do HDR... Wink
7 Mar 2012 10:54PM
In LR I will usually apply the automatic lens correction to the images in the set. This is worth doing because, in particular, Chromatic Aberration is reduced which can otherwise be exaggerated in the HDR process. Although I have Photomatix Pro 4, I usually use Oloneo which is better in many ways and some reviews suggest as good as Nik HDR EFEX pro but cheaper; it is more expensive than Photomatix.

The key advantages over Photomatix is the auto mode which provides a single control for the HDR process. As you increase the effect, the various settings are automatically optimised and you can go further than is possible with PM without creating halos. You can also fiddle with many individual controls or use a number of presets. Perhaps the most powerful advantage is the natural setting. I almost always tick this and colours look much more natural which again allows you to apply the overall effect more strongly. This algorithm is very smart and it is not just a matter of reducing saturation as the colours can look quite odd using HDR software without this feature (not found on PM but I do not know about HDR EFEX). I find Oloneo much quicker and easier to use than PM which is handy when I have a lot of HDR sets to process. Oloneo, PM and HDR EFEX can all be invoked from LR as well as PS.

ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
7 Mar 2012 11:15PM
can oloneo do batch now Dave?
66tricky e2
8 742 Scotland
8 Mar 2012 10:32AM

Quote:Can oloneo do batch now Dave?

I've just had a look and it has a Batch mode. I haven't tried it as I tend to use Oloneo to process single RAW files for a greater tonal range rather than full, multi exposure HDR and also tend to work on each image a shot at a time.
mlewis e2
10 1.5k United Kingdom
8 Mar 2012 12:21PM
I use Photomatix to create a rater flat looking image from the bracketed exposures. This goes into Photoshop for further processing to get the final look. I do not produce the final image direct from Photomatix. I find this produces much more natural results.
8 Mar 2012 4:33PM
Another way of achieving fairly natural looking results (e.g. for landscapes) apart from Oloneo is to just blend and combine layer in Photoshop. Take multiple exposures and open in different layers and use the erase brush to use the most suitable layer. I have not often tried this myself but have seen excellent results from a professional photographer Guy Edwardes.

ade_mcfade e2
10 15.1k 216 England
8 Mar 2012 5:41PM
Processing single HDR's in oloneo and HDR EFEX is great, but what if you've got 3000 bracketed photos from a long days shoot?

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