HDR Wednesday : Software I Use for My HDR Work

Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage HDR.

Last Wednesday I gave some tips on Camera Settings. Today, I’m going to tell you which software I use and which software I’ve tried so you can choose which one will suit your needs and your budget, but let me tell you right now, if you can afford Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Photomatix Pro, just go ahead and buy them. Before Adobe Photoshop CS5 was release, the no.1 HDR Software is Photomatix Pro from HDRSoft.Com. Now that Photoshop CS5 with HDR Pro is out in the wild it’s a whole new ball game. Most of my recent HDR Photos were process using CS5’s HDR Pro tone map tool, but before I discuss the CS5 process, let me give you a list of free HDR software that you can use. Yes there are free HDR software release under the GNU License and maintain by the Open Source community.


Taken last year, this is my First HDR Photo Created with PS CS4 and Reprocess using CS5

Free HDR Software:

Recommended HDR Software use by most photographers:

One Spring Afternoon

This Sample HDR Photo was process using the Free Picturenaut.

Software I use for my HDR images:


Photoshop CS5 HDR Pro

Here’s how to Merge Images to HDR using Adobe PhotoshopCS5’s HDR Pro:
The Merge To HDR Pro command combines multiple images with different exposures of the same scene, capturing the full dynamic range in a single HDR image. You can output the merged image as a 32‑, 16-, or 8-bpc file. However, only a 32-bpc file can store all the HDR image data.

HDR merging works best when photos are optimized for the process. For recommendations, see Take photos for HDR images.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • (Photoshop) Choose File > Automate > Merge To HDR Pro.
    • (Bridge) Select the images you want to use and choose Tools > Photoshop > Merge To HDR Pro. Skip to step 5.
  2. In the Merge To HDR Pro dialog box, click Browse to select specific images, click Add Open Files, or choose Use > Folder. (To remove a particular item, select it in files list, and click Remove.)
  3. (Optional) Select Attempt To Automatically Align Source Images if you held the camera in your hands when you photographed the images.
  4. Click OK.
    • Note: If images lack exposure metadata, enter values in the Manually Set EV dialog box.
    • A second Merge To HDR Pro dialog box displays thumbnails of the source images, and a preview of the merged result.
  5. To the upper right of the preview, choose a bit depth for the merged image.
    • Choose 32 Bit if you want the merged image to store the entire dynamic range of the HDR image. 8‑bit and (non-floating point) 16‑bit image files cannot store the entire range of luminance values in an HDR image.
  6. To adjust the tonal range, see Options for 32-bit images or Options for 16- or 8-bit images.
  7. (Optional) To save your tonal settings for future use, choose Preset > Save Preset. (To later reapply the settings, choose Load Preset.)

This step by step instruction is also available on the PhotoShop CS5 Help Menu.

After the above process, I will use Photoshop CS5’s buit-in noise reduction tool and tweak it to my liking.

CS5 Reduce Noise

Reduce Noise using Photoshop Built-in Noise Reduction Tool

Next and final step, after the noise reduction process is to apply sharpening with Photoshops Built-in Sharpening tool. For a step by step instructions on how to sharpen your images in photoshop, please visit Photoshop Support.


CS5 Smart Sharpen Tool.

Tunnel Vision

This last hdr photo was created using Photoshop CS5.

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50 thoughts on “HDR Wednesday : Software I Use for My HDR Work

  1. Flickr: sergiopigo

    Fall FoliageStraordinari riflessi!

    I think this is a great image!
    I have tagged the image "FlickrsBest" and
    you are invited to join and add it to:

    Well done.
    Please ensure that your image is ‘Tagged’ – FlickrsBest – Thanks

  2. Flickr: Anto57

    Fall FoliageEccellente HDR – Great HDR
    Ti invito a aggiungerlo al gruppo / Please post to the group HDR!

    commented with FlickrComment