PTGui: Making an HDR Panoramic Photo

PTGui makes creating HDR photography much easier than it is with other applications. This software package is designed specifically to create HDR photos. This means that you don't need to do anything complicated. The software can be downloaded from the website. It is software that you need to pay for, although, there is a free trial version you can use to decide whether or not it's suitable for you.

Step 1: Understanding HDR

Before you can use any HDR photography application, you will first need to understand what HDR photography is and why it might interest you. HDR photos are made up of three separate photos taken with different exposures. This should even out the exposure in an image and make it possible to see subjects in light and dark. This effect can be applied to any type of photo, including panoramas. Working with panoramic photos is a little tricky which is why you must take time to master it.

Step 2: Taking the Photos

You will now need to take the photos which will be used to create the HDR panoramic photo. This is quite difficult since you will need to take three separate photos for each view. If your camera supports AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing), then this will simplify things. The exposure will automatically change and make it easy to capture the necessary files. If your camera does not support AEB, then you will need to set your camera into manual mode and adjust the exposure manually. Once the photos are taken, you should then transfer them all onto your computer.

Step 3: Working with the Photos

Now you need to Launch the PTGUI application. Load the source images that you have just taken and click on Align images. This will work out how the photos were taken and detect whether or not they were taken using the AEB mode.

Step 4: Linking Photos

If you took the photos by hand, then make sure you select the "Enable HDR mode but do not link images" then set the HDR method as True HDR. This will allow PTGui to align the images. When you have finished this, all of the photos will be stitched together so you can see how it will look. This is not an HDR image at the moment.

Step 5: Tone Mapping

Click on the Exposure tab to perform tone mapping. This will show a preview of how the image will look when it is completed. Experiment with the controls until the image looks good.

Step 6: Creating Panorama

Now click on the Panorama tab and click "Create Panorama." This will then automatically generate the HDR image in two files. The first file will be a standard jpg file and the other will be an exr HDR image.

HDR Photography is a real challenge to do properly. It's something that you will need to take time to master and learn how to do properly. The most difficult part will be actually taking the differently exposed images to form the panorama.