Truthful Tone Mapping: a quick guide to realistic HDR in Photomatix Pro

How to make realistic HDR photos using Photomatix

High dynamic range (HDR) is something photographers either love or hate. We love it! You can use it to create some extremely dynamic, surreal images and push the look to its limits. There are many bad examples of HDR out there where extreme tone mapping in Photomatix has left images overcooked and overdone. But when you aim for realistic HDR and your images aren’t pushed to extremes, it’s a technique that can really help you in difficult lighting conditions.

6 tips for subtle HDR photos

HDR photos: 6 quick tips

Essentially, there are two reasons for making HDR photos. First, as a photographer you often experience lighting conditions that have a higher dynamic range than your sensor is capable of recording in one gulp, so HDR photos capture and compress the brightness range.Done well, no-one will ever know it’s an HDR.

The second reason that you would use HDR is for the look — to boost the colours and contrast of a dull subject or to give your image a grungy feel. With these reasons in mind, lets take a look at 6 ways you can make HDR photos that are subtle and spectacular.

In pictures: HDR photography by Conor MacNeill

Bled Castle - Conor MacNeill

Conor MacNeill is a London-based web developer. He only recently started getting into photography after a long break, and in just a short space of time his images have quickly grown in popularity on Flickr. We found out what beckoned him back to photography and what he aims to achieve in his work.

In pictures: 21 great examples of HDR photography

Caddy Stack, Carl Schultz

HDR is an effect that has quickly grown in popularity, and with good reason; the results can be dramatic, surreal, and unique. If you’re interested in giving it a go yourself, we’ve got a tutorial on how to make HDR images from 2 exposures. In the meantime, take a look at these fantastic examples of HDR photography.

Make HDR images from 2 exposures

HDR Tutorial: make HDR images from 2 exposures

Exposure blending enables you to mix images to get perfectly exposed skies, not always from the same scene. It’s not only a simple way of making HDR images, but it’s also a way of making more realistic-looking HDR images.

The process when shooting is simple and most cameras have a built-in Bracketing feature to aid you further. It’s crucial that one image captures the detail of the sky and the other that of the foreground – then you use Layers and Masks to blend the two.

Things to try in November

01 The Aurora Borealis by Bjørn Jørgensen

The days are getting colder, and the nights shorter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shoot great photos. Make the most of this unique time of year with our inspirational Things to try feature…