HDR Expose - Evolution of Perfection

HDR Exposre Result 1

When Unified Color released HDR PhotoStudio in 2009, I was stunned with the color accuracy and the natural look of the processed images. With their new release of HDR Expose, the successor to HDR PhotoStudio, Unified Color released further refined software that has more advanced processing options, is easier to use, and produces better results than the already stunning HDR PhotoStudio.

The interface of HDR Expose has evolved, too. All the controls are on the right side with a brightness histogram in the top right corner and the image controls below it. I love how the software keeps a stack of your previous processing steps, allowing you to go back and make changes to previously applied steps, without losing the changes you made later.

Instead of a review that is counting down features, I chose to demonstrate the processing steps. This should give you a good idea on the ease of use and some of the capabilities of HDR expose. Click the images for a larger view.

HDR Expose Start Window 

When you open HDR Expose, you can merge several differently exposed images into a single High Dynamic Range Image. Here I chose the first option, to merge five exposures I took at Dante’s View in Death Valley. I chose this image because it represents one of the most difficult images to adjust. It includes the sun itself and mountains that are backlit. Extracting detail and preserving a natural look will challenge any HDR software.

You can also batch merge images and even batch process images using recipes. A recipe allows you to bake your secret processing sauce into a recipe that you can then apply to a large number of images.

HDR Expose image loaded 

The created file does not look very compelling, yet. It basically represents the middle exposure of the set. A glance at the brightness histogram reveals that the image contains information outside the visible spectrum (dark underlain area).

HDR Expose Brightness and Contrast 

Since the histogram was skewed to the right, I turned down the brightness level. To squeeze more of the curve into the visible spectrum, we have to reduce the global contrast (contrast power slider). Keeping the “keep local contrast” checkbox selected, the overall contrast appears to stay constant, as the software increases the local contrast power proportional to the decrease in global contrast power. I chose to deselect the box and boost the local contrast even more, since the picture could use it. Do not overdo the contrast settings! The settings I show are very extreme in accordance with the difficult subject of the image.

One of the most outstanding features of HDR Expose is their superior halo reduction. During the HDR process, the software works hard to keep the contrast the same, while squeezing the entire dynamic range into the visible range. The required local contrast enhancement causes nasty halo effects with any HDR software. This is especially visible if you have edges between bright backgrounds (sky) and darker foregrounds (tree, rocks).

HDR Expose can suppress these halos, but the process is very compute intensive. I recommend to tweak these settings as your final step as part of a recipe. When I selected the highest setting (Ultimate) on an image, my (older) Quad Core computer slowed down with 100% CPU usage.

Ultimate Halo Reduction 

I think this setting should come with a warning or get a separate dial to prevent users from accidentally triggering it. Further, it would be nice if I could send HDR Expose into the background with idle priority, while it chews threw these computations.

In fact, this was the only annoyance I found with the software, combined with the fact that I cannot minimize the GUI while it computes. I used a keystroke to bring up the Windows taskbar and work on other things in the meantime.

HDR Expose Shadow Highlight 

In the next step (Shadow / Highlight), I mostly reduced the highlight power, to bring even more of the sun and the backlit clouds into the visible range. I also tweaked the local contrast (LC) setting to improve the overall appearance. The results are subtle in these pictures, since I already used a strong global contrast reduction. With these settings, you can fine tune your image and reduce the shadow or highlight power individually.

HDR Expose Sharpness 

Next I tuned the sharpness of my image. Since I started from pre-processed TIF files, I had already adjusted the sharpness. Ideally, you want as little interference as possible and would use RAW files for processing, in which case the sharpness slider becomes very important to counter the effects of the conversion.

Notice how each of the processing steps adds another tab to the bottom of your list. You can always go back to previous steps and tweak them, which is a cool feature of this software.

HDR Expose Saturation and Hue 

In this step, I boosted the saturation a bit and increased the warmer tones in accordance with a sunset. These edits are purely subjective.

HDR Expose Veiling Glare 

One of the most amazing features of HDR Expose is the veiling glare tool. Notice how the picture above seems to have a less hazy look than the picture above it. Click on each of the images to see a larger version!

Veiling glare is the “tendency of bright objects in the scene to reduce the contrast everywhere within the field of view”. – Citation from this paper.

Scattering light inside the camera causes this. It is most notable on the mountains in front of the sun, which appear murky and hazy. The veiling glare tool lets you remove this murkiness.

HDR Expose Noise Reduction 

Finally, I did some minor noise tweaks.

HDR Expose TIF properties 

Then I saved the file in the BEF HDR format, so that I can tweak my image further should I decide to do so.

I exported a TIF file for further processing. I prefer to use 16-bit TIF in Photoshop. Oddly, you have to set the specifics for the file format in the preferences dialog and not during the actual save operation.

HDR Expose contains a variety of other tools for reducing noise, cropping, resizing, and rotating. Those are very useful if you process RAW files directly with HDR Expose, since you should always perform each operation as early in the pixel pipe as you can to avoid artifacts. Since I ran TIF files through HDR Expose in this test, I did not have to use these tools.

Dante's View Final Image 

I removed some of the lens flare with Photoshop in the final image above. I prefer to use my own noise reduction techniques and did not use the tool in HDR Expose. I also made a small adjustment on local contrast. Despite the cleanup, the image resembles the output of HDR Expose very closely.

Conclusion and Discount Link

Unified Color remain a major driving force in the HDR image-processing arena. Their new product is a significant step up from the already superb HDR PhotoStudio.

Use this link to get 20% off the purchase price:

Get HDR Expose

You get a free 30-day trial, so there is no downside to trying this out yourself.


Disclosure: The link tracks sales originating from my website. You get a 20% discount when you use the link, while I get a smaller portion of the profits from the sale which helps me to offset my cost and finance the coffee I require while staying up late to write for you. This did not influence my review. I encourage you to try the product before buying it.


This reads amazing. I will get the HDR software and play around a bit. I have just started photography and would love to learn more about this. Thanks for pointing out this software.

Comparison to CS5

Interesting read. I've used Photomatix Pro with some great results (I especially love creating a black and white image after the HDR conversion). I know Photohop CS5 has improved HDR capabilities. I wonder how the three stack up versus each other.

Good question. I never

Good question. I never thought of Photoshop as a good HDR tool, because I did not like how they performed the tone mapping in the past. I have heard good things about Photoshop and will try it.


I love the astonishing uniqueness of the shot.

Echt super!

Das Foto oben ist ja der Hammer, echt toll und das Program schaut auf alle fälle sehr interessant aus.
Habe davon noch gar nichts gehört, wird es warscheinlich nicht auf Deutsch geben.


Weiss nicht

Aber die Knoepfe sind auch so eindeutig genug und die Software ist intuitiv geschrieben. Sollte auch fuer Deutsche kein grosses Problem sein.

Good grief...

And here i thought your Photomatix results were bad, this is even worse. I also love how this app states it helps control halos but you main picture has a significant halo. The final results have so much noise and poor unnatural shadows it makes me cringe. Just stop you are making HDR look bad.

Very interesting. I may have

Very interesting. I may have to look into this. I love the red rock and snow together.

HDR is a range of methods to provide higher

HDR is a range of methods to provide higher dynamic range from the imaging process. Non-HDR cameras take pictures at one exposure level with a limited contrast range. This results in the loss of detail in bright or dark areas of a picture, depending on whether the camera had a low or high exposure setting. HDR compensates for this loss of detail by taking multiple pictures at different exposure levels and intelligently stitching them together to produce a picture that is representative in both dark and bright areas.

BMW Santa Monica Service

I love the astonishing

I love the astonishing uniqueness of the shot.

Thank you for taking such

Thank you for taking such type healthy point on bridal makeup and skin care.

Andre Gunther Photography | Fine Art Travel Photography

You could definitely see your expertise in the work you write.
The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who
aren't afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

Andre Gunther Photography | Fine Art Travel Photography

With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems
of plagorism or copyright violation? My website has a lot of completely unique
content I've either created myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my authorization. Do you know any ways to help stop content from being ripped off? I'd
definitely appreciate it.

home-based tutoring business

With havin so much content

With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems
of plagorism or copyright violation? My website has a lot of completely unique
content. GTA 5 download

Breitling Watches

Further helpful influence regarding Swiss rolex replica
is the reality which they will make an individual completely smiley, cheap rolex Breitling Watches UK serene and happy particular person usually. In addition you will not need to be anxious regarding the expenditures regarding Swiss Rolex reproductions in any respect as they are affordable watches. Amazing concern is the reality which Swiss watches store provides you gainful fake Rolex Replica Watches UK

I like this post. It's quite

I like this post. It's quite unusual and innovative. Writer might be really gorgeous. Someone could easily claim that he is a genius.


There are simply endless options which you can prefer to look gorgeous but make sure that you will feel comfortable when you wear those fashionable items you choose.


I love HDR Expose 3, it features 26 new or improved features including real-time processing, automatic halo reduction, a neutral dodge and burn tool and improved batch processing.


I couldn't agree more, HDR

I couldn't agree more, HDR is amazing and there is nothing out there today that can even compare to it. Glad you liked it!



I think this is among the most significant info for me. And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on few general things, The website style is ideal, the articles is really great stainless steel microwave.


It helped me all the way in completing my Alvin vehicle Trades assignment, I am also giving a referance link of your blog in my case study. Thanks for posting such informative content. Keep posting.Thanks for sharing. i really appreciate it that you shared with us such a informative post. Woodlands vehicle Trades.


I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job and thanks for this good information.

Once they sent ad of a

Once they sent ad of a School providing a degree in on the internet promotion.Funny memes


Thanks for the fantastic photographs and the watch, it had been awesome. This can be great website to spent time on.I only discovered your educational blog and wished to state that I've truly enjoyed reading your well prepared blog posts Houston Car Warranty


This blog is really nice i like to read Thanks for sharing:)

Houston Vehicle Search

your blog is very nice and your way of writting is also good.

Houston Vehicle Search

Extra the HDR activity, the

Extra the HDR activity, the software works exacting to deduct grief of that scan precisely the tantamount, do my math homework regular albeit squeezing sum your convincing miscellany for the transparent medley.

You can't really say what is

You can't really say what is beautiful about a place, but the image of the place will remain vividly with youI was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.
AC Repair in Mumbai

Andre Gunther Photography | Fine Art Travel Photography

Great blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out.
Please let me know where you got your theme.
Thank you

Duvetica Jassen

Duvetica omlaag comfort, warmte en goede prestaties. Gratis en eenvoudig, ongedwongen, relaxed.welkom om te kopen
Duvetica Jassen Beneden. Word warme winterkleding. Beneden met koud en goede, zachte pluizige, was handig, goedkoop, en groene natuurlijke voor
Duvetica Jassen Dames Beneden is er licht, zachte textuur, warmte en goed.
Duvetica Jassen Heren zijn erg populair tegenwoordig met de hoge kwaliteit
Duvetica Verkooppunten zijn erg populair Beneden is er licht, zachte textuur, warmte en goed.
Duvetica Winterjas 2013 Koude is niet langer het enige doel van de mensen dragen donsjacks. Uit de productie-technologie, kan donsjack al doen zowel licht en warm. Daarom is er een groeiende aandacht voor lichaam, lijn vandaag, donsjack is een unieke textuur en is niet te vergelijken met andere kleding.
Duvetica Jassen Kopen Weer naar beneden opende een brede productontwikkeling ruimte. In kleding, zullen mensen meer aandacht voor kleurrijke willekeu
Duvetica Nederland Gratis en eenvoudig vrijetijdskleding, aangenaam, ontspannen, relaxed, als gevolg van de mensen een beter leven van optimisme en comfortabel genieten.
Duvetica online shop tBeneden een heleboel functies, zal motorische functie prominenter worden, vooral voor hardlopen, skiën, schaatsen,ijshockey en alle andere wintersporten jassen zal worden bevoordeeld.
Duvetica Winkels Het jasje zal zijn onconventioneel. Prestatiegerichte persoonlijkheid, is een nieuw tijdperk van de consument bij op een belangrijk kenmerk van de jurk, jas is geen uitzondering.
Duvetica Kleding 2014 Nieuwe Duvetica omlaag kwaliteitszorg, kwaliteit first-class, donsjacks redelijke prijs en rond de verkoop!
Goedkope Duvetica WinterJassen Weer naar beneden opende een brede productontwikkeling ruimte. In kleding, zullen mensen meer aandacht voor kleurrijke willekeu
Duvetica België Bestellen Gratis en eenvoudig vrijetijdskleding, aangenaam, ontspannen, relaxed, als gevolg van de mensen een beter leven van optimisme en comfortabel genieten.

Dubai Online Shopping

Thank you so much for sharing this great blog.Very inspiring and helpful too.Hope you continue to share more of your ideas.thanks for this post

Online Shopping in Dubai

Thank you so much for sharing this great blog.Very inspiring and helpful too.Hope you continue to share more of your ideas.I will definitely love to read

Shopping Online

just lov this post.it makes me to lov nature more and more. wish to be there thanku very for sharing such a beauty of world.
Dubai Deals

Bigcommerce offer App

A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out.Please let me know where you got your theme.Bigcommerce offer App


I liked learning this web page here online. The designs have very excellent noval shade Very excellent blog! Do you have any symptoms for dedicated writers.check that

When the large of your

When the large of your energy and effort is invested on personal subsistence, short amount of time is left for other activities, like looking after for kids. Getting mature would reduce an individual's ability to spend a while on the more extensive part of subsistence living (hunting, back-breaking collecting, etc). designlyset

thanks for inspiring me.

thanks for inspiring me. mobil sedan corolla dx

Andre Gunther Photography | Fine Art Travel Photography

Hey there this is kind of of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
I'm starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get
advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

That picture of Aztec Butte

That picture of Aztec Butte is a really good example ............. of bad HDR. Just look at the halo along the edge of the rock.


Next time I read a blog, Hopefully it doesn’t fail me just as much as this particular one. I mean, Yes, it was my choice to read, nonetheless I genuinely thought you’d

have something useful to talk about.
All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you
could fix if you weren’t too busy seeking attention. unlock verizon galaxy s3

root att galaxy s3

htc drivers
cyanogenmod gapps

Clipping Path

Nice work. Programa de administracion de fincas

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options