First HDR Images

Inspired by this MeFi article, I got myself a Canon A570 camera and loaded it up with the CHDK hack.

The first thing I’ve been trying is HDR Photography. Here’s what I’ve learned about doing it on OS X:

  • Photomatix does an awesome job, is easy to use, and costs some bank ($85).
  • Cinepaint can create HDR images but not tone-map them back into normal viewable images. There is a native OS X version of it but using it is like being kneed repeatedly in the groin. On Linux it’s more like being punched repeatedly in the gut.
  • QTPFSGui is awesome, and available for both Linux and OS X. The beta version (1.9) is much better than the stable 1.8. Trying to use automatic image alignment crashes it, but that’s OK, the manual image align is easy to use. It gives you a wide variety of tonemapping options, many of which look boring, some of which look downright surreal. Good option overall.
  • The Hugin project has created some command line tools that do an awesome job on their own! The main one is called “enfuse.” There’s also “enblend” and “align_image_stack.” There’s a for-pay GUI for enfuse called Bracketeer which makes it easy to use and has neat previews, and one called XFuse which is less slick but at least it’s not the command line.. In the end Enfuse seems to make the most good-looking, naturalistic output of all the options, though if you want the kind of painterly, unusual effects that some HDR photography has, Photomatix and QTPFSGui both do that well.

Anyway, I’ve been putting successful experiments up in this gallery.

UPDATE: It turns out Enfuse is using a technique completely distinct from HDR photography. More on this here.