PhotoStudio: Creating HDR Images

HDR PhotoStudio is an imaging enhancing program that's unique in the way it delivers high image quality. HDR stands for “high dynamic range” and refers to the PhotoStudio method of combining multiple exposures of the same image in order to maximize the tonal range. In addition, HDR PhotoStudio is a full 32-bit program, enabling it to reach into data territory so far ignored by its conventional competitors.

HDR PhotoStudio is also remarkably easy to use. By focusing most on the depths (and heights) of shadow, mid-tone and highlights, rather than on original color, the editing process is simplified once you are familiar with the possibilities this software can achieve. The makers of PhotoStudio refer to its “true color integrity,” which can make images more visibly naturally than is usually represented by digital technology.

Creating HDR images using the tools in PhotoStudio can be summarized below:

Import Formats

On opening the program, you can choose whether to create a new image or open an existing image (with batch processing a third option). Create a new image is initially a merging operation, using multiple images taken at different exposures of the same scene. The import formats available include RAW files from all major camera makers, plus JPEGs and TIFFs.

Editing Tools

Once merged, the resulting image is presented full screen flanked by an array of editing tools with a simple interface. Unlike other editing software, the HDR merging process does not redefine images based on the limitations of your monitor. You now have the option of using the tools in turn to enhance detail in the high definition 32-bit environment.

Brightness / Contrast

These two controls can each be adjusted up or down within a six stop range. Here, you have the opportunity to reduce excessive brightness without the loss of color integrity that occurs with 8-bit and 16-bit programs. Detail can be revealed without distorting color strength.

Shadow / Highlight

These tools are the heart of the program involving dynamic range mapping. You can set a mid-tone for the range using an eye-dropper tool to set the value. Shadows and highlights can then be adjusted with the slider tools to bring out detail. Again, the big advantage of using HDR PhotoStudio is that colors are preserved naturally in this process. You can also operate the tools independently enabling a stylized rather than natural image if you wish.

Other Editing Tools

Other editing tools include sharpness, saturation, noise, whiteness, individual color controls, local contrast, rotate, crop, resize and a preset function. The preset relies on the program’s ability to record and save editing history so the same adjustments can be automatically applied to other images.

Reviews of HDR PhotoStudio

Reviews of HDR PhotoStudio have generally been very positive. The ability to create HDR images is a clearly both a boon and a fascination for the professional digital photographer. Freed from the limitations of previous digital editing software, the new image horizons appear boundless in comparison. However, the biggest limitation of all, that standard digital equipment cannot properly display the benefits of HDR, remains.

Nevertheless, enabling RAW data to be manipulated in a 32-bit environment provides a big step in the enhancement of final images in whatever medium they appear.