I’ve been shooting a lot of HDRs for my Sleeping Bear Dunes timelapse project and needed to find a better way to process 100s of HDR brackets quickly and efficiently. There are many HDR tools and techniques out there in the market but almost none of them deliver produce a ‘natural’ look that I’m typically seeking for my images. I continue to be a huge fan of the iHDR process outlined by Jay and Verina Patel; however, its a time consuming process which isn’t very repeatable when batch processing HDR timelapses. On flip side, Photomatix Pro is one of the best tools for batching HDRs which really helps when processing HDR timelapse but I’m not a fan of the tone-mapping results from Photomatix Pro which leaves way too many artifacts and noise for my taste these days. I heard about the new 32-bit TIFF support in Lightroom 4.1 and saw some video tutorials on how to leverage that new support with Adobe Photoshop’s HDR Merge tool. After trying a few, I still just didn’t like what Photoshop does to the HDR images and it takes WAY too long to process and cannot be easily batched. This led me to explore using Photomatix Pro to render the 32-bit HDR image and use Lightroom 4.1 to edit the image without tone-mapping in Photomatix. Turns out – this works amazingly well!!
I put together this tutorial to share how to use the new 32-bit TIFF support in Lightroom 4.1 to create natural looking HDR photos with Photomatix Pro. First, demonstrating how to use either Adobe Photoshop to save the rendered HDR composite from Photomatix into a TIFF file or saving as a floating point TIFF file from Photomatix which can be directly opened in Lightroom 4.1. Then walking through how to use Lightroom’s develop module to edit the HDR image by recovering highlights and shadows with the very large dynamic range in the 32-bit image.
Here is one of my recent photos rendered with this exciting new HDR workflow: