HDR images contain all the light present in a scene. This can be considerably more light than you can capture in a single exposure, and certainly much more than a regular monitor can display.


So, what is a Real HDR image?


Is it an image where all the light is truthfully represented? Even if that means your monitor can only show a slice of it? Or is it an image, where you can see the full dynamic range at once? Then I have to compress that range for you, using tonemapping. And how far can that go and still be considered truthful?

Here is an experimental HDR Viewer, to explore and decide for yourself.
 
 
 
Toning manually is easy in Photoshop. Just using Exposure Adjustment Layers in 32-bit mode and soft brush strokes to paint on the layer masks can lead to great results. It's the original Dodge-n-Burn method: slightly tedious but with ultimate control.
Photomatix's Detail Enhancer driven to the extreme. Could go further by applying it again, but this is already stretching my personal taste. This style, although popular on Flickr, gets pretty boring quickly and isn't very flattering for portraits.
Somewhere between "natural" and "surreal" there is a whole universe of looks to explore. This was done in Photomatix 4, which is pretty resistent to halo artifacts ever since the introduction of the Smoothing slider.
HDR Expose (formerly HDR PhotoStudio) is well suited for a crisp photoreal look. Its hands-on approach allows total control over detail contrast, color balance, sharpness, really every aspect. Also the best (and computationally most expensive) halo reduction.
Driving FDR Tools to extreme settings reveals stunning amounts of detail. Such a flat image is very useful for postprocessing in Photoshop, when used as layer to spice up a natural base layer. It's also perfect for extracting texture maps for 3d programs.

What do you think?


Please join this quick survey. No trick questions - I'm simply interested in your honest opinion.

Roll your own!


This HDR Viewer was created using the HDR-HTML generator from pfsTools.
In the latest version 1.8.2. you will find the template for creating this particular viewer included. It's been tested and optimized for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and the iPad. Works on IE8 as well, just doesn't look that sexy. Please refer to the pfsTools documentation (included in the download) for installation and usage.