I’ve been doing a good amount of interior architectural work lately and I’ve been using the Photomatix Pro 4 Aperture Plug-in.
It took some experimentation to establish a decent workflow so I thought I’d spare you and share what I’ve learned.
Let me start by explaining my goals. I want to create a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image that looks natural and yet retains detail in shadows and highlights. It’s also important for me to have the source files handy and organized. Aperture fits the bill nicely for this.
The idea is to shoot three to five images at different exposures and then merge them into one image. I’m adamant about having the images look natural. I’ve seen a lot of HDR images that have halos and where the colors are whacked and it basically just looks over-the-top to me. I don’t like that look.
I’m assuming if you’ve found this article you already know about HDR and how to do it so I won’t make this an HDR tutorial. (If you want to learn HDR, be sure to visit Trey’s site). I have found Aperture to be a great way to organize the source images for HDR and I’ve found the Photomatix plug-in to work very well for the task. I tried several other apps and decided Photomatix served my tastes.
Here’s what I do.
After importing the images I go through the images in Split View and Shift-select all the source images I want to open in Photomatix. I then hit Stacks > Stack [Command-K] to stack the images. This is an important step—it’s a great way to group the sources images together for each HDR composite. It also has the added benefit of keeping the final HDR image together after it’s saved in Photomatix.
When you are done working on your images in Photomatix and you’ved save the image it will appear in the stack. Even though you may have already made adjustments to the source images before sending them to Photomatix you can still make adjustments to the saved HDR image. I often find myself adding definition or tightening the crop a bit.
It really is as easy as that, but HDR can get out of hand quickly when you are shooting so many frames for the purpose of making one image. Aperture’s under-appreciated stacking feature is key to keeping all your source files organized.
Keep in mind this workflow will work with other HDR plug-ins such as Nik Software’s HDR EFEX Pro 2.
PS—We don’t have discount codes for Photomatix I’m sorry to say, but remember if you buy anything from Nik Software, be sure to use the code “ApertureExpert” for 15% off.