Tag Archives: Photomatix Pro 4.1

Double Process – The Better Grunge HDR?

Double Processing

Readers familiar with this site know I am not a big fan of the “Grunge” Style of HDR. I don’t say don’t do it, it’s just not my cup of tea (I think I have been watching Wheeler Dealer, the British show, too much this week, Mate!). Although I do admit I would like to have some fun  playing with a grunge style but every time I do my “Fans” or my customers give it a big thumbs down and say they like my more natural or “As the eye sees” style of HDR. And I agree for the most part, I do what works for me.

But what if I were to do a Grunge style, what would it look like? Well, I don’t think it would look anything like the Grunge presets in popular HDR programs. But how would I do it? With a little known technique that well started for me, as a mistake: Double Processing.

Double processing? What’s that? Well quite simply, it is taking your image and running it through your tone mapping…Twice!

So let’s take a look at a couple images from my portfolio down as I normally would do with pretty much my normal process in Photomatix Pro 4.1

The first one is from the old artillery bunkers above the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands

The Next Image is from an abandoned filling station in Vista New Mexico.

Now let’s see what these images look like using the standard Grunge Preset in Photomatix.


 They certainly have that look. But they are just too Mid-toned for me. How about if we make them look surrealistic but with some better tonality throughout the image?

So how do we double process in Photomatix. It’s really quite simple. If you are using the Standalone version, after you do your first round on normal tone mapping, you hit process and it applies the tone mapping. Usually at this point you hit save. Well instead, we just press the Tone- Mapping Button again and it takes the image right back into the tone-mapping screen and applies the previous settings again to the image. Or you could change them up a bit if you wanted to go for a different look.

If you are using Lightroom and the image gets taken back into Lightroom after the tone-mapping, simply export that single image again into Photomatix.

For mine, I just applied the same settings again (Strength 70, Saturation 70, Light Adjustments: Natural, Gamma -1.20)

Here are the results


Ok not bad, but let’s take it just a bit further and bring in some more of the detail that the Grunge style has. We’ll do that by using some different software. Topaz Adjust 5.

Have I told you how improved the new Topaz adjust 5 is? They have some REALLY useful presets and I’ve begun using some of them on standard images to make what I get in camera look more like what my eye sees when I am shooting. For this example, I just used the “Detail” preset in Topaz Adjust 5, Just to increase our detail and add a  bit of edge contrast.


And there you have it, MY version of Grunge. Might not be your style, might not be something my customers would even buy. But it was fun and a different way to do things for those times you might want to go over the top a bit. Or if you’ve already been going over the top, a better workflow that may improve your images.


Okay, now where did I put my Cup of  Tea mate?


Hope that helps

HDRsoft Releases Photomatix Pro 4.1

On July 16th HDRSoft released a update of  Photomatix Pro, version 4.1 (with a subsequent update on July 21st to 4.1.1 just to fix a couple bugs) I wanted to review the new release at that time but some Eye surgery kept me sidelined for a while and I am  just getting around to it now. I have been using the beta of this new release for a little while now and used it in an upcoming magazine article.

With it’s full release let’s take a look at some of the changes that have put into the latest version.

On opening Pro4.1 everything looks the same as before and same basic setup to open the images you want to work on.

The first major changes comes after you open your images and in the Preprocessing Options

 The first thing we notice is that under Align source images is a new check box to include or exclude perspective correction when aligning the images. This could be helpful in some architecture shots.


You can also now use the slider below to set the maximum misalignment of images that the software will correct for.








Under remove ghosts, they have made the Automatic deghosting more powerful to detect and remove more ghosts.

And in the Selective De-Ghosting tool, when you get to that screen they have added a “Quick selection” option so that you don’t have to select and then click mark  selection as ghosted area… Kind of nice, makes things quicker.

Everything else in this panel remains the same. 

The next changes and the BIGGEST one comes in the Tone-Mapping / Fusion Panel











 First thing you will notice are some cosmetic changes, an 18%  gray color scheme, the preview pane has been resized so that the histogram can dock next to it and you can also set in your preferences whether the histogram shows upon opening the tone mapping panel.

In the  Adjustments panel there have been a few changes. Some just renaming of a control to make more sense such as renaming microcontrast Detail Contrast

Then they re-named the Lighting Adjustments (Which used to be Smoothing) from Low /High to Natural Medium and Surreal, again to have the control name make more sense to the user of what it actually does. I like that

 There is a new control under “Show More Options”  Smooth Highlights. This control seems to help with some troublesome areas like bright skies that may have grayed out a bit or even some haloing in contrasty areas

Most of the other controls have remained relatively the same with perhaps just a repositioning of their order.



















Now, back to the biggest change in this version of Photomatix Pro, the inclusion of a selection tool and the ability to replace the selected area with one of the single exposures instead of the exposure merge. Previously you have to finish the HDR in Photomatix and then take the image into Photoshop, add the image exposure you wanted to replace in a new layer and  mask it into the HDR.

I would do this at times when either because of the merge the image lost fine detail in an area that really needed it. Or, when Photomatix Pro just couldn’t get a particular part of the image just right. This was often the case with white puffy cloud skies. Too often they would gray out and I felt one of the original exposures blended into the image would provide a more satisfying look to my final image, especially with my desire for a very natural and not surreal image.

The addition of this tool right in the Tone Mapping stage is really very helpful, both in saving time and allowing you to see what it would look like instantly instead of much later down in the process.

The selections tools worked fairly well, perhaps not quite as adjustable as they are in Photoshop. But the Magnetic Lasso did a good job in testing.

Now I have to be honest, will I ALWAYS use this method? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on the image. There are times when I want the more power I have in Photoshop to manipulate that selection with different adjustments and filters. So even with this addition I may still return to my original method. But in the end I really do welcome this addition to the tools of Photomatix Pro. I know I will use it many times especially for some smaller areas.


All in all this appears to be the best version yet. I’m not sure they made any engine changes but it seems to work fast and the preview, which has be problematic in the past seems so far to perform better.

As always, Highly recommended, I still believe this to be the best HDR Imaging software and the one I will use.

 To Download/Purchse/Upgrade to HDR Soft’s Photomatix 4.1.2 you may do so HERE  For 15% off your purchase of any Photomatix Software, enter the coupon code: theHDRimage at checkout

 You can also read about all the other changes and bug fixes that each release has on the download page