easyHDR 3 User Manual

HDR image processing with easyHDR 3 software


The full easyHDR 3 User Manual is available in form of a PDF document. You can get it from the "download" section of this website. In addition to the PDF documentation you may also find the following articles interesting:

PDF

Download the User Manual

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Quick Start

The following tutorial describes the typical usage of easyHDR in order to create and tone map a HDR photo. For more detailed help please refer to the User Manual or the articles linked above.

Taking photographs for a HDR

Set of photos of a HDR scene

Take a set of photos of the same High Dynamic Range scene at different exposure times, ISO values or f-stops. In order to achieve best results the Exposure Value difference between the photos should be 1 to 2 EV. In most cases 3 such photos are enough (sometimes even 2 photos with 2 EV spacing). EasyHDR loads JPEG, RAW (eg. CR2, NEF, etc.), TIFF, PNG and FIT file formats.

The best way to take a HDR sequence of photos is to use Auto Exposure Bracketing feature in your camera. It allows taking a series of differently exposed photos fast enough to minimize later problems with image alignment even if you take the photos hand-held. Taking photos fast reduces also probability of ghosting effects. If your camera does not have the AEB feature you should consider using a tripod and rather avoid scenes where photographed objects move too much (many people, windy, etc.).

The camera sensors are getting better and less noisy, so in many cases a single JPEG, or better a single RAW image, is a good input for HDR-style processing.

Tip: you can start with sample photos that were installed along with easyHDR. There is also an EHSX file with the stored tone mapping settings. You can find those examples in: C:\Users\[name]\easyHDR 3\examples (Windows), or /Users/[name]/Documents/easyHDR 3/examples (Mac).

Loading photos into easyHDR

Loading photos

Load the HDR photo sequence by dropping the files on easyHDR program icon which you can find on your desktop, by dropping them on the already running easyHDR's workspace, or click the "New" button to open file import dialog and select there the whole set of images. You can also setup easyHDR as an external editor in other photo processing software. Finally, thanks to included Adobe Lightroom plug-in, you can do the whole job from the Lightroom level (for more information please refer to full easyHDR documentation).

Instead of processing a HDR image sequence you can load just a single photo and do "LDR enhancement". This yields best results if RAW (or 48-bit TIFF) image is processed.

Chromatic aberration correction

Chromatic aberration correction tool

Before making a HDR image it is possible to preprocess the input photos. Preprocessing possibilities are: Chromatic Aberration correction as well as Alignment (manual or automatic). They are available in the "HDR generation" window.

With Chromatic Aberration correction tool you can minimize the chromatic aberration effects caused by imperfections of the lens.

Image alignment

Manual alignment tool

If the input photos are misaligned in respect to each other you may take advantage of the automatic, or manual alignment. Both are capable of compensating for shift, rotation as well as perspective misalignments. The manual tool may be used in a semi-automatic way. Just use the automatic pin placement option, then you can verify the quality of alignment and do corrections (should they be needed). The idea of manual alignment is simple - just select the base photo and place the pin pairs (each pair is marked with a different color) in a way that they point exactly the same details on the base picture (top left) as well as on the photo to be aligned to it (top right). The live preview is shown in the lower left window, but please note that all the pins must be placed before the good preview is shown. Repeat this operation for all photos to be aligned to the base.

In the majority of cases however, automatic alignment is sufficient. Just make sure that "Alignment -> Automatic" option is checked when HDR is generated.

Tip: You can save the aligned photos to files. Use the "File -> Save aligned photos".

Generating HDR image

Generating HDR image

After pre-processing the input photos you can generate the HDR image. At this stage there is a possibility to filter the image to reduce the noise.

Instead of generating a true HDR radiance map, there is a possibility to merge the photo sequence using a pseudo-HDR algorithm (called Smart Merge), or to generate an image stack (simple average).

Ghost removal

Ghost removal

The True-HDR method has a ghost removal capability. When the manual option is chosen, a ghost removal tool window appears before the HDR is generated. The user is supposed to paint masks that mark the ghosted areas. Those areas are repaired by using just one, user-selected photo to reconstruct the HDR image (each photo has own color assigned).

Tip: There is an automatic mask creation option. Three detection threshold levels are predefined (see the "1", "2" and "3" buttons in the bottom left). If automatic ghost removal is selected, the option "2" is applied without showing the dialog to the user.

Rotating, cropping and flipping

Free rotate and crop

At any step of processing - right after image loading, during tone mapping, or even at post-processing, it is possible to apply basic image transformations like: rotation, flip and crop. In rotate & crop mode it is possible to fine tune rotation to precisely level the image.

Tip: Hold Shift key in rotate & crop mode, to rotate image with mouse.

Tone mapping

Tone mapping preview

After the HDR image is generated, the mode is switched to tone mapping. Now you can try various settings in order to get the result you want - presets are good starting points. The preview is available at full image resolution.

Optionally you can create layers masking parts of the image. Each layer can have different tone mapping settings.

Tip: You can save your own presets and even group them into folders. For more information please refer to the full documentation for easyHDR.

Tip: It is possible to save your work in a project file (easyHDR specific format - EHPX). For more information please go to the last page of this tutorial.

Color adjustment

Tone mapping - color adjustment

Apart from tone mapping settings that give you ability to control local and global contrast there is also possibility to tweak color tone of the photograph. You can modify saturation selectively in respect to hue and brightness. It is also possible to fix white balance by setting color temperature and tint.

Tip: If your photo has bad white balance you should try to fix it in the beginning, before tweaking the tone mapping settings. The easiest way to do it is to sample, from the photo, a color that should become neutral - eg. a white wall that appeared orange or blue on your original photos. The program sets the "Temperature" and "Tint" sliders automatically. With the padlock in the locked position, the white balance settings are not reset when preset is changed.

Postprocessing

Postprocessing

Before saving the result you may wish to process the photo using available filters - blur, sharpening, noise removal (median and bilateral), or sample/target balance.

Tip: There is just one undo step, but you can easily reset the already applied post-processing by switching back to tab 2 (tone mapping).

Saving the result

Save tone mapped HDR

You can save the result after post processing it at "Step 3", or still at "Step 2" - post processing is not necessary.

For best quality choose to save as 48-bit TIFF (16-bit per channel). You can also export the result to another image processing application. Just use the "Export to external editor" option.

EasyHDR allows to save your project at step 1 or 2. The project is saved into an easyHDR-specific format EHPX. The file contains the pre-processed (i.e. aligned) input photos, the HDR generation settings (including the ghost mask), the layers and the tone mapping settings. You can re-load the project to alter your photo processing, or to continue processing, if you couldn't finish it earlier. The post processing applied at "Step 3" is not stored witin the project file.




Current easyHDR version
3.9   (07.06.2016)