Archive for the ‘HDR Expose’ Tag

32 Float from Unified Color Released   Leave a comment

Banner for Unified Color 32 Float and HDR Expose


Unified Color has released their latest product, 32 Float, an HDR processing plug-in for Photoshop CS3/CS4/CS5.

Previously, the ability to edit 32-bit images in Photoshop has been extremely limited. Using 32 Float, with an interface similar to Unified Color’s HDR Expose program, you can adjust brightness and contrast, highlights and shadows, color balance and saturation, white balance, and other aspects of your image, all in full 32-bit mode using Unified Color’s Beyond RGB color space.

You can use just about any 32-bit image as input, whether it was generated by HDR Expose (.BEF), Photoshop’s Merge to HDR (32-bit TIFF), or any program that can generate OpenEXR or Radiance files.  32 Float will even work with 8- and 16-bit images! There are a number of output formats available as well.

One of the nicest advantages of 32 Float is that you can easily make multiple adjustment passes on an image, with each set of changes saved as a separate layer in Photoshop. This means that you can tune an image for, say, the dark interior of a room, save those changes as a Photoshop layer, and then use 32 Float to adjust perfectly for a brightly lit window in the same room, returning a separate layer. Using simple masking techniques, you can use both layers to compose the final image, with everything in perfect balance.

For a more thorough description of 32 Float, please see the Press Release from Unified Color, located here.

You can get a 30-day trial of 32 Float, and there is special introductory pricing of $79 (regularly $99) until the end of September, 2010. Bundle pricing is available if you’d like to purchase both HDR Expose and 32 Float together.

You can use my discount code when ordering products from Unified Color by clicking here. You’ll get 20% off HDR Expose by doing so. There are no discounts available on 32 Float during the introductory price special, but you’ll get 10% off 32 Float after October 1st.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

32 Float™ from Unified Color – First Look   2 comments

Welcome yon HDR peeps!

I bring glad tidings of a new Photoshop® plug-in from Unified Color, the same folks who make HDR Expose. I don’t have any screen shots, yet, but having seen a demo of the new product last night, I can say that the interface looks very much like HDR Expose working within Photoshop, so I’d expect the learning curve to be quite minimal.

Up until now, editing images in 32-bit mode in Adobe® Photoshop® was extremely limited. Most of the adjustment features were grayed out and unavailable in 32-bit mode. There were a couple of gamma adjustments and filters available, but nothing terribly useful. For those of us who feel a need to retain all of the information in an HDR image for as long as possible, this was a problem. Or, just ‘life as-it-is” when working with Photoshop.

32 Float™ is the first fully featured 32-bit color editing plug-in for Adobe® Photoshop® based on Unified Color’s patented Be­yond RGB™ color space. Now, you can have full control over color adjustments, brightness, contrast, veiling glare and other functions while editing in full 32-bit mode, without having to sample your images down to 8- or 16-bits in order to work with filters and other functions. You can also work with 8- or 16-bit images as well with 32 Float™, so the functionality of the new product extends over a wide range.

You could, of course, use HDR Expose to accomplish these adjustments on a standalone basis, but having those capabilities integrated with Photoshop helps to streamline your HDR workflow.

32 Float will accept a variety of input file types, including but not limited to OpenEXR, Radiance, and BEF 32-bit HDR files. Alternatively, you can use Photoshop’s Merge to HDR function to create your 32-bit HDR file. From within Photoshop, you can pull down the filter menu to access 32 Float, where you’re brought into an interface that looks surprisingly similar to HDR Expose, with only a few minor variations. (The buttons have been regrouped, and a few others have been removed for the plug-in, as they weren’t necessary in this workflow.)

After making your adjustments in 32 Float, you apply the changes and those changes are saved as a new layer in Photoshop! (You can apply them to the base layer, but I wouldn’t recommend that.) From there, you are free to do any masking or other adjustments on that new layer.

But here’s the kicker: Suppose you have a scene with a really wide dynamic range, and you’d like to process segments of the image in different ways. After saving your first adjustments in a new Photoshop layer, you can go back to the Background (original) layer and invoke 32 Float again, making a different set of adjustments. Saving those adjustments as a new layer allows you to mask in or mask out sections of the image to draw out ALL of the information in the scene.

I think the possibilities are great for creative use of this plug-in. We certainly could have done the same thing with multiple BEF files from HDR Expose, but this new workflow makes it so much easier to work with layers in Photoshop.

When I get my hands on a copy of 32 Float, I’ll surely continue on with my notes.

32 Float is scheduled to be released this week, probably on August 26th or 27th. There will be limited-time introductory pricing on 32 Float, as well as bundle pricing if you’d like to get 32 Float along with HDR Expose.

For more information, please visit Unified Color‘s website. The Press Release under the Company section will tell you everything you might need to know.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the Discount section above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Strong Morning Coffee   Leave a comment

Sunrise over Flagstaff Lake, Eustis, Maine

[A larger version of this image can be seen on my gallery at SmugMug,  here (Opens in a new tab/window)]

This image represents to me, 1) a continuation of a series of shots taken on one spectacularly cold Maine morning, and 2) a chance for further experimentation with blending output from two different HDR programs.

As for the first point, I had to drag myself out of a very warm, very comfortable, downy sleeping bag to shoot the sunrise.  Strong coffee is my friend.

To the second point…

This was taken from a set of three brackets (ISO 200, f/2.8, +/- 2 EV.)  I ran the set through Photomatix Pro 3 and created several different tonemap files.  One of the tonemaps was a Shadowmap for later use, one a Vivid (saturated) version and one a “nice” version (“nice” because I just thought it looked nice.) After producing those tonemaps, I also fed the brackets into HDR Expose, adjusting settings until it looked just right.

The output from HDR Expose was quite good on its own, but I thought it could use an extra touch, so I went to the Photomatix output to take a look. As it sometimes turns out, while the output from HDR Expose was solid, clear, and ‘true-to-life’, Photomatix output often has more punch and detail due to the available microcontrast settings.  There’s just something about the tonemapping process that jazzes up certain features.

Using the Shadowmapping technique, I layered the Shadowmap on the Vivid layer, toned down the saturation, and then blended it with the ‘nice’ tonemap. The result brought some subtle but necessary detail to the distant woods and some of the clouds.

When all of that looked good, I flattened the layers and copied the result on top of the HDR Expose version. Setting the opacity of the Shadowmap down to about 25-30% in Normal mode gave me a good result… other blending modes were too dark. The result was a highly realistic image — thanks to HDR Expose — with subtle but important details, color, and microcontrast from the Photomatix layer.

From there, the image took a trip into Topaz Adjust 4 for further punch-up. Using the NIK Color Efex Pro Darken/Lighten Center filter, I added a subtle dark vignette around the edges. Toward the end, I wasn’t delighted with the darkness of the distant shoreline, so I added an Exposure layer and masked it in to bring up the trees just a bit.

Surely, there are other ways to do this sort of processing, and some of them are bound to be easier paths to the same end. But each element seems to bring something to the final version, and playing around with different combinations can be both rewarding and frustrating.  Sometimes I do wonder if I should have just popped a single 0EV file into Topaz to see what would have happened.  Maybe tomorrow morning… over a cup of coffee.

Combining HDR Programs   1 comment

North Carolina Heating and Air Conditioning

“North Carolina Heating and Air Conditioning”

As I like to say: “The great part about not knowing all the rules is that it allows one to break them without compunction.”  Who’s to say that we can’t take the output from one HDR program and use it as input to another? Or, vice-versa? What happens if we combine this, with that? While sometimes the result looks like we’ve just combined matter with anti-matter, interesting surprises can result from such experimentation.

And, since we’re HDR photogs, don’t we inherently enjoy experimenting like the early alchemists?

I’ve been working quite a bit with Unified Color’s new HDR Expose program, and I’ve been using Photomatix Pro for quite a while now .  Each has its strengths, as we might expect, and I could pick over their respective weaknesses as well.  Rather than dwelling on what’s missing, I tried my best to use the strengths of each program in this image.  (Note: Discount codes for both programs are available from the Discounts menu above.)

When I ran the brackets through HDR Expose and applied edits there, the result was an ‘as-I-saw-it’ image with great shadow and highlight detail.  But, at the end of the process, it looked like an old building sitting in a field — which is exactly what it was.  While the result was an accurate representation, in this case it seemed to lack something artistic or interesting. There wasn’t enough there to really hold one’s attention.

Enter the stalwart Photomatix Pro 3(.2.9)  The output from that pass had elements that I loved about the building, but there was significant ghosting in the tree branches and the monochromatic sky had that dingy quality despite my having upped the micro-smoothing and highlights-smoothing substantially.  Those things could have been handled in Photoshop pretty easily by layering in a single RAW, but why not try something different?

Using standard Photoshop layering techniques, we’re able to quickly and easily combine the best elements of each program’s output. The shack was rendered by Photomatix Pro, while the remainder of the scene is from HDR Expose. Along the trees in certain spots, there is a mixture of the two, with HDR Expose handling most of the pixels.  Following up with some Curves adjustments and a little selective saturation boost in select spots, we have what I think is an interesting image: A funky old shack with some outrageous surface color — just as I had remembered it in the  harsh morning light (I drink strong coffee…) —  with sunlight pouring in through the roof.

It’s not a radical idea, of course, using various layers to achieve an effect.  I have some other experiments going on that I believe could be ever more interesting.

HDR Expose from Unified Color: A First Look   2 comments


Greetings —

This blog has recently been converted from another site.  The original HDR Expose blog entry has been made into a tutorial, but I didn’t want to break any links…

Please click here to see HDR Expose from Unified Color: A First Look

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