Programs for HDR: Recently a friend of yours told you aboutHDR (High Dynamic Range), a technique by which it is possible to significantly increase the level of detail displayed in a shot by “merging” multiple versions of the same image, each of which with a different type of exposure and brightness. Intrigued by this “discovery” of yours, you have decided to read up on the Internet to find out if there are gods programs for HDR able to give more vitality to your shots. So you ended up here on my blog. Trust me: you couldn’t have ended up in a better place!
In fact, in the next paragraphs, in addition to listing some very useful programs with which to create the HDR effect, I will also show you how to use its main features. By doing so, you will know perfectly how to “move” to use the technique in question in order to improve your shots. And I’ll tell you more: in the last part of the tutorial I included a list of some useful apps to be able to act directly from smartphones and tablets on the photos you have taken and which are saved in the Gallery of your device.
How do you say? Have I intrigued you and you can’t wait to get started? Fantastic! Make yourself comfortable, take a few minutes of free time to try the various programs listed below and then use the one that seems best suited to your needs. I am sure that by following my “tips” step by step, you will not have the slightest problem in completing your work. I wish you good reading and, above all, have fun!
One of the first programs for HDR I recommend you try is Picturenaut: a free software available only for Windows that focuses on lightness and ease of use. It supports all major graphic file formats (including camera RAW files) and allows you to create professional-looking HDR photos from multiple shots with different exposure and brightness. Among other things, it includes a compensator for the level of noise in images, a function to automatically balance color, correct exposure and automatically align photos.
To download Picturenaut on your PC, connect to his download page and click on one of the links to get the program installation file (ex. English 64-bitto download the 64-bit version or English 32-bitto download the 32-bit version) located in the section Downloadon the right side of the page.
When the download is complete, open the file .msi that you have just withdrawn and follow the simple procedure that appears on the screen to complete the setup: then press the button Nextput the check mark on the item I accept the terms in the License Agreementpresses the button two more times Next and then on Install, Yup And Finish.
After installing and starting Picturenaut, press the button depicting the three images with the symbol (+)select the photos that have different degrees of exposure, brightness and contrast, press the button Add located in the window Generate HDRIchoose the images on which you intend to act and, finally, press the button OK.
By clicking on the icon with the three adjustment barsthen, you can change (if necessary) the main parameters of the photo you are working on and, once these “secondary” changes are finished, you can save your work by selecting the item Save As … from the menu File. Admit it: using Picturenaut to apply the HDR effect to your shots was pretty straightforward, right?
Dynamic Photo-HDR (Windows)
Dynamic Photo HDR is a professional-grade program that offers photo enthusiasts and professionals a quick and easy way to apply the HDR effect to their shots. It is able to automatically align and adjust the tones of the photos to apply the HDR effect avoiding annoying “cartoon effects”. Among its functions, there is also the possibility to create 360-degree panoramic photos, process multiple images at the same time and automatically map the colors of the shots. It can be used for free for 30 days: at the end of the trial, it is necessary to purchase the license, which costs 63.43 euros, to continue using it.
To download Dynamic Photo HDR, connect to the download page of the program and presses the blue button Trial Version located at the top right (if you are using a 32-bit system, click on the link instead here located next to the item 32-bit version). When the download is complete, open the file .exe you got, press the button Yupthen on Next three times in a row and finally on Install And Finish.
After installing and starting the program, press the button Open File Browser located at the top left and select the images with different degrees of exposure and brightness that you want to load to get the HDR effect. Then he presses on the card 2. Align located at the top right and, using the buttons located on the left sidebar, align (if necessary) the uploaded images trying to be as precise as possible. Then press the button Continue to HDR located at the bottom left and, in the window that opens, select one of the available presets (Tri-Linear, Gaussian Peak, Flat or Over-Exposure Fix): I suggest you try them all and calmly choose the one you like best.
As soon as you’re ready, press the button Continue to Tone-mapping located at the bottom left, adjust (if necessary) the other main parameters of the output photo, press the button Save Tone-Mapped Image located at the bottom left to save any changes made and, if you are satisfied with the final result, press the button Save from the window that opens, to save the image to which you have applied the HDR effect.
If you use a Mac I advise you to try HDRtist, a free application that can be downloaded from the Mac App Store and that is really simple to use: just “feed it” one or more images and the application will do the rest. Before explaining how to use it, I want to tell you that there is a Pro version (costs 29.99 euros) thanks to which it is possible to export images in multiple formats and access other advanced features.
To install HDRtist, connect to This Page and presses the button See in the Mac App Store. Once on the MAS, press the button Get / Install the app and, once the download is complete, start it by clicking on its icon that appears in the Launchpad and presses the button OK notice that appears on the screen.
In the main HDRtist window, press the button Create a new HDR and drag in the hatched area on the right the images you want to “merge” to create the HDR effect (if you want, you can even load only one) and then adjust the intensity using the adjustment bar placed at the bottom left, under the heading Strength. If you have chosen to upload multiple photos with different exposure and brightness, make sure they are well aligned by pressing the button Align Photos located at the top (if they are not, the application will automatically make the necessary corrections).
As soon as you are satisfied with the final result, press the button Save HDR placed in the upper part of the window, choose the location and name of the output file you have obtained and click on the button Save. Easier than that ?!
Photoshop (Windows / macOS)
Photoshop is the photo editing program par excellence. Describing its potential and functions in a few lines would be impossible, but HDR photo enthusiasts will be pleased to know that it includes an automatic tool for creating HDR-effect photos starting from multiple images with different levels of exposure and brightness.
To access this tool and choose the photos to use as the basis for your HDR images, just select the item Automate> Merge to HDR included in the menu File of the program. If you remember, I have already told you in depth about how to make HDR with Photoshop in another guide that I published on my blog: I recommend you to read it because it contains detailed information on how to edit images with the HDR technique.
I remind you that, since it is a software aimed above all at professionals, Photoshop is not free: you can try it for free for only 7 days (as I have already explained to you in this other guide), but at the end of the trial it is necessary to subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography planwhose basic plan starts at 12.19 euros per month, to continue using the program.
App for HDR
Do you want to apply the HDR technique to the photos in the Gallery of your smartphone or tablet? If so, take a look at app for HDR which are listed below: try them out and then use the ones that seem best suited to your needs.
- Camera (Android / iOS) – the Camera app included “standard” on Android and iOS offers a function for making HDR shots that is very useful and allows you to apply the effect in question without having to “correct” your photos in post-production. I have already explained to you how to best use it in this guide.
- Snapseed (Android/iOS) – it is one of the most popular and popular free photo editing apps for mobile devices. It includes various tools and filters, including one for applying the HDR effect to your shots, making it perfect for editing your photos on the fly. If you are interested in learning more about how it works, read the dedicated tutorial.
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (Android/iOS) – this app developed by Adobe allows you to take pictures in HDR mode (as long as you have a compatible device with this function). This does not mean that it can also be used to manually modify the parameters of your shots to apply the HDR effect, even if this does not happen automatically as on Snapseed and requires some skill in photo editing. Other features of Photoshop Lightroom include the ability to take photos in the DNG format and import and edit files in the RAW format (but only for subscribers to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan).
If you want more information on how to create HDR on smartphones and tablets or if you want to try other apps to retouch photos, all you have to do is consult the tutorials that I have just linked to you.