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Prior to getting started on the tutorial, I want to explain what Exposure Fusion really is. Exposure Fusion is not technically HDR. Rather, it is the combining of bracketed images into a low dynamic range image, with the intention of creating an image with a more “natural” result.
Photomatix Pro basically “decides” what the best tonalities are in each image within the bracketed set, and then combines them to create an single image.
In addition to the obvious advantage of creating a more naturalistic scene, Exposure Fusion doesn’t have the problem with halos that HDR has.
Personally, I don’t prefer using Exposure Fusion for my images, as I’m not generally after a more natural result. However, this is not going to be true for everybody, for a variety of reasons.
If you don’t yet have Photomatix Pro, you can download the fully functional trial version of the software, from here:
The trial version will never expire, but does leave watermarks on saved images.
Once you have Photomatix Pro installed, you will then need to open the software, and click the “Load Bracketed Exposures” button. Choose your bracketed exposures and click “OK”. For the purpose of this tutorial, I am using sample images which can be downloaded from HDRsoft.
Next, choose your preprocessing options, and click “OK”:
You will now have the option to choose “Exposure Fusion”, in the upper left corner of the screen:
In the drop-down menu for “Method”, you can choose which Exposure Fusion method to process your image. Here are explanations of each of the processing methods.
1. Adjust Method
Accentuation – Adjust the strength of local contrast enhancements.
Blending Point – Adjust favoring underexposed vs overexposed images. Move the slider to the right to favor overexposed images, and to the left to favor underexposed images.
Shadows – Adjust brightness of shadows.
Color Saturation – Adjust saturation of all channels.
White Clip – Adjust how much highlights are clipped.
Black Clip – Adjust how much shadows are clipped.
Midtone – Brighten or darken image and decrease/increase contrast.
360º Image – Eliminate seam in panorama
2. Auto Method
There are no options for this method, as Photomatix Pro automatically chooses for you.
3. Average Method
Also no options for this method. Photomatix Pro chooses for you.
4. 2 Images Method
Only uses two exposures to create the final Exposure Fusion image. Allows you to choose the two images yourself.
5. Intensive Method
Strength – Adjust the strength of local contrast enhancements.
Color Saturation – Adjust saturation of color channels.
Radius – Controls the area used to calculate the weighting of the source images.
For this image, I chose to use “Adjust” method. Here is an image showing my chosen settings, as well as the preview of the processed image:
Once you are sure that you have chosen your desired settings, click the “Process” button. Here is the Grand Canal image, processed and saved with my chosen Exposure Fusion settings:
I hope that this tutorial has helped you to use Exposure Fusion in Photomatix Pro.