April 27, 2006

Send us your poor, your tired, your haloed images…

…yearning to blend free. We’d like to ask your help in improving HDR (high dynamic range) imaging in Photoshop. The halos produced by many current HDR conversion techniques (see the Flickr HDR pool for some examples) are kind of cool and wonky, but to make HDR more than a fad, we need to produce more reasonable results. With this in mind we’d like to get sample images–particularly ones with which you’ve gotten better results converting 32->16/8 bits using another package than you have using Photoshop. Photoshop engineer John Peterson writes,

I’m looking for cases where the “other leading brand” is doing a better job than Photoshop. I’d like to get three or four really good cases of this from customers that are (potential) heavy users of Merge to HDR. I’d be interested in JPEG or raw source files, plus the HDR result file from the other application. JPEGs should be generated by the camera, not via Camera Raw. f-stop should be held constant, exposure should differ by two stops or so, and resolutions in the 2-6 MP range would be sufficient.

If you’d like to work with us on this, please shoot me a mail & I’ll get you in touch with the right folks on our end. Thanks!

Posted by John Nack at 6:50 PM on April 27, 2006


  • Stu — 9:14 PM on April 27, 2006

    John, the reason LDR tone maps from HDR images look bad is that it’s a bad idea. Photography that artfully manages to contain a scene’s dynamic range in a print looks beautiful becuase it captures something unusual and hyper-real — but that nevertheless actually occurred. Tone-mapped images always look like an engineer’s experiment, and answer to left brain desires “I know the sky is blue, so it should always be blue in photos” rather then right brain “Holy shit, the sky is pink!”

  • BWJones — 9:52 PM on April 27, 2006

    Hey John Peterson! It’s been a while. Certainly, I’ll try and send some images your way either directly or through John Nack, but they’ll be in the 8MP range if that’s OK.

  • Lloyd Burchill — 10:51 PM on April 27, 2006

    You can download handy before-and-afters of Fattal’s halo-free gradient domain HDR method here.

  • Alexandre Jenny — 4:28 AM on April 28, 2006

    One great solution is to combine two tools :
    a tone mapper (even a limitated one is okay) with a standard level (float aware level is better) and beeing able to dynamically change both parameters on both tools.
    You can get some illustration of such a combinaison inside our HDR stitcher :

  • Richard Peterson — 9:54 AM on April 28, 2006

    I would disagree with Stu’s comment above; any tool that helps to unchain the unlimited imagination is a great asset for artists, and I’ve seen HDR images that look fantastic.
    I’ve downloaded alternative tone-mapping plug-ins, but I would really like to learn the tool in Photoshop itself to its maximum first. Is there more “inside” information available somewhere on how to use the Photoshop tool?
    I like seeing John Peterson’s name in the developers list of Photoshop since my Dad’s name happens to be John Peterson (not the same person, though).

  • Chris Cox — 6:33 PM on April 30, 2006

    Stu – if it’s a bad idea, why has photographic film and paper been doing just that for the past hundred years?
    Tone mapped images shouldn’t have to look bad – but many of the examples out there (Flickr) do look bad because the tools are insufficient, or the users don’t know how to use the tools. What John’s asking for is example images that show problems with Adobe’s tools, from users who should know how to use those tools and others — so Adobe can improve their tools.

  • Chris Cox — 6:42 PM on April 30, 2006

    LLoyd – there are halos in those images, but they are larger than in most other toning algorithms, so they look more like a glow and make the images look a bit washed out. When you apply the gradient domain toning to other images, you will see the halos more easily (but not quickly – because the gradient domain optimization step is really slow).
    There is a nice paper from CIC12 that compares the results of the various algorithms (http://www.imaging.org/store/epub.cfm?abstrid=32164).

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