The other day I was processing some bracketed HDR images that I had recently shot. My typical workflow is to take the images from Lightroom into HDR Pro in Photoshop. I don’t typically tonemap in Photoshop, just create the HDR file and save it as a 32-bit radiance file. Then I open the newly created file in Photomatix Pro for tonemapping and then save it back into Lightroom. There’s an option in the Save As dialog in Photomatix that let’s you send the tonemapped image back into Lightroom. Once it’s back in Lightroom I do my fine tuning in the Develop module. It sounds like a long process but it actually goes pretty quickly.
3-exposure HDR processed in Photomatix Pro
Getting back to my HDR shots. After processing the image above I wondered just what kind of effect i could get by opening the normal exposure from the bracketed images and then try using Photoshop’s HDR Toning feature found in the Adjustments menu. To my surprise, the results were not that far from the 3-bracket set that was processed in Photomatix Pro.
Normal exposure processed using Photoshop HDR Toning
It should be noted that the image I used was a raw file that was opened via Camera Raw as a 16-bit file. I’m not sure if a JPEG image would give the same results since it would contain less data. Also, I had a fairly well exposed image to work with. The results may also be a little different if there was a larger dynamic range being captured.
Here’s another shot from the series that was processed in Photoshop using HDR Tone with some finishing touches applied in Lightroom.
And here’s the original normal exposure. This file has had no processing done to it whatsoever.