RAW HDR Processing


Learn how to create stunning HDR photos from a single RAW file.

The rapid progression of camera technology and new options in Photomatix require an update to this tutorial.

Cameras are now 14-bit

Bathesda Fountain

HistogramWhen I wrote this tutorial over 1.5 years ago, most cameras were using 12-bit sensors. Camera makers have switched to higher dynamic range sensors now. I am currently using a consumer level Canon Rebel XSi which already exceeds the performance of many professional cameras of just a few years ago.

Ideally, 14-bit RAW files contain 4 times more information than 12-bit RAW files in the shadows. Realistically the gain may be limited somewhat by noise, but the noise levels also improved, leaving us with more bits to use. This much dynamic range just begs being made visible.

The picture above was taken in Central Park. The picture on the left side was processed via this HDR method. You can see a larger version here.

In the processed image you can see people outside and the fountain, while those are clipped in the unprocessed version. The histogram of the uncompensated picture, a picture processed for highlights and a picture processed for shadows is shown on the left side. The HDR is a combination of 5 images between EV-2 to EV+2.

Photomatix improvements

False KivaThe most recent version of Photomatix has also seen a dramatic improvement since my first draft. The generation of the HDR image is actually not as important as the process of tone mapping. For our purposes we can use the default options without the necessity of aligning the source images, since they were generated from a single RAW file.

Tone mapping (the process of mapping a 32-bit floating point image into a bitmap for display) is a bit technical, but the guys at HDR soft have done an awesome job at making things easy. The goal is not to go overboard with the settings. I even prefer to tune them down somewhat, so that the picture looks more natural and less processed.

The image of false kiva has an enormous dynamic range, with the sun peaking through behind the clouds and the cave being partly in the shade. After forcing all these levels into a range I can display and print, the picture still looks natural and not over processed.

Tone Mapping Settings

Photomatix Tone Mapping Settings 

Photomatix now offers two different Tone mapping approaches, the traditional Details Enhancer and the Tone Compressor. In 90% of the time I am using the Details enhancer since I can control the results much better. Although the preview of the Tone Compressor has more saturated colors, I find it harder to control shadows and highlights, keep noise in check and most importantly get a result that does not look artificial. In the picture above I am showing some useful settings to get you started with either algorithm. Although the preview of the Detail Enhancer shows less color and looks more flat, it seems to be an issue with the ProPhotoRGB color space I use.

I usually decrease the overall strength slightly, to get a natural result. The luminosity slider adjusts the global brightness of the picture. If you pull a lot of detail from the shades, the pictures will look too bright. In most cases I have a slightly negative value here.

I usually don’t adjust microcontrast much. Micro contrast enhancement is similar to sharpening in Photoshop. I play with this slider in extreme cases, when I get halos or too much noise, but otherwise I do not adjust it much.

The White Point, Black Point and Gamma are the most important sliders for realism effects. Increase Gamma to make the images look more real.
Most HDR processed Images I see only look somewhat flat, because we mapped so much dynamic range into a smaller space getting a luminosity response curve that is too linear. Gamma is a nonlinear transformation of brightness levels that is more pleasing and realistic to our eyes.  

The white and black points determine where clipping will occur. Some value different from 0 gives a more natural look.

Keep experimenting!

---end update, original article below

Comparing the Original to the processed Images

Every travel photographer knows the scenario. While most photographers advise not to shoot during the harsh light of the day, we often have little choice. Often I find myself at a place and I know I will have to move on, either because I have a travel schedule or because I am on a weekend trip and have to get back to my daily routine. Believe me, if I could afford it, I would follow the good advice and spent a lot of time on each location waiting for perfect conditions to make my photos shine.
In situations such as this, the best would be to put your camera on a tripod and bracket your exposure. You can then combine the pictures on your computer. However you cannot take your tripod everywhere (it may not be allowed) and it is very cumbersome.
In the past I have often written about RAW processing and I have stated that you can make good use of the dynamic range captured by your camera. Almost every Digital SLR camera and many of the better Point and Shoot models alow you to record RAW files. A RAW file is the data captured by your Camera's sensor that is not processed yet. It does not contain color information (yet), which is very useful to adjust white balance at the computer and apply sharpening and other enhancements the way you like it (check my other Worklfow Tutorials for more information). A 12-bit file contains 16 times more levels then a 8-bit JPG file. This is the main reason why I only shoot RAW.


While Photoshop offers tools to generate HDR (high dynamic range) images and blend multiple exposures, I find neither of them adequate for my needs. The tone mapping is very limited and not very useful. Photoshop also detects the exposure of an image and initially refuses to merge multiple files that were created from a single RAW file (they all contain the same EXIF data, so Photoshop sees no difference in Exposure). While there are ways around this (delete exif information), I have also evaluated Photomatix and found it extremely useful for the task at hand.
Photomatix automates the process of creating HDR images or stacking images and makes the entire process very easy.

Some definitions

Skip the next paragraph if you don't care.
An HDR image contains 32-bit of brightness information with virtually no limitation on how many levels you can represent (floating point numbers).
Tone Mapping describes the process of mapping such an image back into either 8-bit (or 16-bit color) space for display and/or printing.

Why should you care?

As always, nature cannot be copied in all its perfection. Your eyes are the ultimate image sensors. They have a nonlinear response curve enabling you to see very bright areas in the presence of dark shades. Your camera does not have that capability. It has a very limited response curve, leaving you either with blown out highlights, too dark shadows or both. Worse than that, when the image is processed, even more information is lost (8-bit JPG).
You might wonder why I would want to convert a 12-bit image to 32-bit just to output it as a 16-bit TIF. Well here is how I think it works.
RAW vs. Bitmap comparison
Both, the 16-bit and the 8-bit image have the same minimum and maximum brightness levels. The only difference being that the 16-bit image offers a higher resolution on the levels. The RAW file however contains information beyond the levels of the bitmap images, and those are the ones we are trying to recover. So we shift the bitmap scale left and right, create multiple files and combine them accordingly.

Ok, what now

For extremely high dynamic range scenes (e.g. a dark cathedral with bright windows) you are probably better of taking multiple photographs with different exposures (use aperture priority or you will mess up your Depth of Field and sharpness), but I find that I can get away with some processing on a single RAW file. In fact I can easily push my RAW files to +/- 2 f-stops in post processing (that would be equivalent to taking 5 images each one stop apart).

Lets process

RAW converter Exposure
Open up your RAW file in your favorite RAW converter (I use Adobe Camera RAW. The arrow points to the exposure setting). Don't touch any of the settings except the Exposure slider (you can also fine tune white balance, sharpness, ... but thats covered elsewhere).
Play around with the exposure slider. Move it to the left and see the image become darker. Watch your highlights and see how much information we can recover. Find out how low you need to go (but don't go much beyond 2 f-stops).
It will depend on your camera how far you can push this.
Remember the number (e.g. -2).
Then move your slider to the right and see how much you can pull out of the shadows (without seing too much noise).
Remember that number (e.g. 2).
Subract the two numbers (2 - (-2) = 4).
In our example we are going to cover a 4 f-stop range (thats about as far as this works on RAW files for most Canon Cameras I guess (I hear the new line has 14-bit analog to digital converters, so it may go further).
Now divide those into n equal steps, not much larger then about 1 f-stop.
In the example above this results in 5 images:
(-2, -1, 0, 1, 2)

Min = -1.6
Max =  0.8
Result = (-1.6, -0.8, 0, 0.8)

Enter these numbers into the Exposure compensation box and convert one image for each (5 images in the first example). I usually save them as TIF files so I don't lose information to compression (until the very end when I save everything as JPG).

Processing with Photomatix

Photomatix is the perfect tool for combining these images into a single HDR image and then use Tone mapping to output them. 
The software offers far too many options to cover them all at length. I encourage you to play around with it a bit.
We can either generate a HDR image from the 5 tiff images or we can simply combine them and let Photomatix figure out the shadows and highlights.
The HDR options offers far more control and more dramatic results.

H&S - Auto

Lets start with the simpe technique. Sometimes I like this better since HDR images take some getting used to. Although they probably resemble what we see, we are not used to this kind of presentation.

Photomatix Batch Averaging
I usually use the batch processing mode. In this mode, you can automatically process all images in a folder. For this test, I have put all 5 files into a folder and pointed the batch processing window to this folder (LOCATION).
Then I told Photomatix that I had 5 images (if you process more then one image, make sure they have the same number of source files).
Since we generated all of those images from a single source file, we do not have to select Align bracketed images. This option is very usefull if you composed multiple images (exposure bracketing).
Then I selected Highlight and Shadow - Auto (telling Photomatix to figure out the best settings).
Thats it. Photomatix will put the results file in the same folder (see above or below for a comparison image).


This option is a bit more involved, but Photomatix makes it as easy as it can get.
Photomatix Batch HDR conversion
Simply go to HDR -> Generate and select your images. In the next dialog photomatix will ask you for the exposure values (still remember the settings from your RAW converter?).
Press OK and Photomatix will generate an HDR image for you.
HDR files contain far more information then your monitor possibly can display, so don't worry if the image doesn't look good (yet). This is where the Tone Mapping comes in. The Tone Mapping is the real strength of Photomatix. It can be bought as a Photoshop Plug in (I bought the bundle, but I use the standalone program most of the time).

Photomatix Tone Mapping
On the left you can see the HDR file (linear light levels). On the right you can see the Tone Mapping Window. It applies a linear curve to the image mapping all brightness levels into the bitmap image space.
The Window is very intuitive. You can simply hover with your mouse over any of the sliders to get a short explanation.
Play around with it for a while and save settings you like. Load the default or older settings and compare the results.
When you are ready, simply press the OK button. Photomatix will output a TIFF file of chosen output depth (I went with 16-bit in this example).

Don't worry about what you pick here. You can always save the HDR (.hdr) and come back to this step again and again until you are completely happy. I have not modified the standard settings much for this example, however the results are already very impressive:
Comparing original, H/S and HDR image
The picture on the left uses my standard Photoshop settings for processing images (they are already better then in camera JPG settings, since they tend to recover some of the Highlights and Shadows).
The picture in the middle was generated with the Automatic Highlight and Shadow settings. If you look closely, you will find that some of the shadows of the roof have been brought to live and that the building (outside in the bright sun) now looks better (not over exposed).
With the HDR image, we were able to pull the structure of the wood out of the shadows (the roof looks way better) and even the distant building has regained a lot of its texture.
The Original Image in this example already has some detail pulled out of the shadows and highlights.


Always shoot RAW images. As a best case scenario, you can just batch process them in Photoshop and still get better results then your camera would give you with very little effort.
If you come across a difficult image, you can use the proper tools to restore it accordingly.
Photomatix is an excellent software. To use its full potential, pick a difficult scene and shoot a lot of exposures.
I use it primarily for recovering highlights and shadows (either with H/S or HDR) from my photographs. It is the best tool for the job.

Download an evaluation version of Photomatix and start playing: Photomatix Download

Wow, Amazing

Thats amazing. I will check out the evaluation right now.

All Those Bits

Good article, Andre. How bits are used is always somewhat of a mystery. A couple notes...

- When a RAW file is automatically converted to JPEG or TIFF, it tends to clip off some of the highlights. While a 16-bit TIFF could represent the entire dynamic range, doing so tends to leave the entire image looking a bit underexposed and so it still needs to be curved-up for display or printing. Also, these conversions limit the color gamut to whatever RGB space is being used.

- A RAW image contains linear information (essentially a count of photons per pixel) while JPEG and TIFF are usually gamma-compressed to match the response curve of the human eye. You get about about 12 stops of exposure within 8-bits of data on these setting which is about equivalent to 12-bits of dynamic range in RAW. Each additional bit will add about another 2 stops of exposure and precision.

I use EasyHDR for my own night photography HDR.

Thanks Brian

Thanks for the notes Brian. I have completely forgotten about the linear information in RAW. There is a pretty good Plugin by Fred Miranda that processes your RAW files in linear mode and supposedly you can get good results with it too but I haven't seen any dramatic results either.

A TIFF file that I convert with a RAW editor cannot be tweaked beyond a certain point anymore. I can never recover as much of the highlights as I can from the RAW file with Photomatix.
So it does appear to get clipped beyond some point.

BTW: Since you mentioned the color space. I have found that I can get the best (most dramatic) results by using "Pro Photo RGB" throughout the editing process and making the conversion (Adobe Engine, Perceptual) to sRGB one of my last steps. I can push the color saturation much more this way without getting any posterization effects (especially annoying on sunset pictures when the sun is visible).

Thanks again for the good pointers.

Your Raw HDR article

This is what I need to know altho it is still beyond me. It was the second such article I've read & I'm starting to get the idea.
I've shot jpegs for years and process them with iPhoto but it's time to learn more.
I have Capture One & Photoshop 7 software to post process the images from my new Nikon D80 but I'm lost when I open them up. I don't understand the terminology yet and the Help menus just make me more confused.
I will check out your Workflow bits. I find your writing easy to understand- now I need to get the terms.
Any pointers for me from what I've said?
Thanks. I keep checking back.

Capture One

I have tried Capture one a long time ago, but not recently.

Basically you need to adjust the Exposure up and down, but keep all other settings the same. Adjust the exposure in equal steps (read the article again, hopefully this point will become apparent) and then store them on your hard drive. Download the trial version of Photomatix and try the steps to create a HDR image. It is pretty straightforward.

To see some results of what you are doing, start with an image where you know you can pull some details out of the shadows and highlights (large dynamic range). Photomatix is really easy to use, I think you will get a hang of it quite fast.

To learn more about RAW processing, you could start browsing through some of the Workflow Articles. Although they are written mainly with ACR (Adobe Camra RAW) in mind, I have made a few remarks regarding the advantages of RAW (for instance white balance can be adjusted later, the automatic isn't always right).


Andre, Thanks for the article. Do you have better results using this method than just opening up the single raw in Photomatix and letting it generate the pseudo hdr file. Then doing the Tone Mapping.

The latest version is 2.4.1 (although there is a newer 2.5 Beta) so maybe the original version of Photomatix did not allow this.

Thanks Mike

I have to admit that I haven't been aware that Photomatix could even open RAW files. Thanks for the tip.
All things being equal, I don't know if I would ever use this, as I prefer to fine tune my pictures with a full fledged RAW editor.
However I don't tune much on hdr images (maybe some sharpening but thats about it).
I do remember that HDRSoft was not exactly promoting generating HDR files from a single RAW, since the software can do so much more, so maybe thats a new feature.
I will try it out and see how this compares. Thanks again.

Black spots

When I take multiple shots of the same scene and try to merge them with PM, I get black spots around leaves that were blowing in the wind or water ripples, anything that was moving. Is this "normal"? Those scenes just don't allow themselves to be HDR'd? OR is there a processing step/slider that will help reduce this effect?



Tim: Thats a pretty good question. The problem really doesn't exist if you generate 3 exposures from a single RAW file (like in the article above). It's a really good example for using just a single RAW (since all exposures come from the same file, there is no difference between them).
Movement is probably one of the hardest things to process in multiple exposures. Generally it's not impossible, but requires a lot of work. You need to create layer masks for each of the photographs and fix it in post processing.
A shot like that would probably be done best in Photoshop blending manual.
The first steps are the same (create some files with different exposure). Then you stack them in Photoshop (layers) and you start painting the layer masks very carefully (thus selecting what image will show).
I used this once to remove people from a scene (taking a whole lot of shots and then painting them out of the picture). It's a cumbersome process.
However if you can clearly separate between certain areas of the image (e.g. top with bright leafs and bottom with lots of shadows) you might get away with simply stacking two images and drawing a gradient on your layer mask to blend from one image to another.


ok, it likes good!
I'll go & try it!
The best & bright lights,


I keep getting a lot of distortion.. or maybe noise? I'm not sure what to call it. In the darker shadow areas of my images after I do the tone mapping. I'm using the same programs as you. and the tiffs look fine after I save them from the RAW. Any suggestions?


Bill/Jake? I recommend to

I recommend to play around with the parameters during the mapping. You can set the black and white point. Set the preview to maximum size (1024).
If you are unsuccessful, you could send me your example to check it out.


sorry its been a while but thanks for your help..

I'm still getting alot of noise in the shadow areas.. i can't get rid of it in the tone mapping...


If you would check that put and see if you have any ideas

the description of the photo describes my process



I am not that fast. The photo is already gone. If you still want me to look at it, please post it again.


Thanks Andre, I've been looking for this technique for a couple of days. Your article is the best one I have ever read. I'll try your method.
Some questions somebody brought out might be from Photomatix itself, like halo, it has been a pain for everyone, including HDRsoft.
Have a good day!

Where can we find if our

Where can we find if our camera is 12 or 14 bits?

AFAIK, Photomatix has always had different tone mapping operators: the detail enhancer which acts locally and the tone compressor which acts globally; the third operator (Highlight aand Shadow) is yet something else, not operating on 32 bit files. Therefore, Your paragraph "PM now offers 2 different tone mapping approaches" should be adapted.
Furthermore, You mention that the tone compressor gives more artificial results. That is not my impression. Tone compressor output is more realistic, while the different sliders of the detail enhancer can be used to obtain psychedelic effects (high strenght and luminosity, low light smoothing, high microcontrast).
Recently several books on HDRI have been published. I recommend the ones written by Christian Bloch and Ferrell McCollough for their deep but easy-to-follow workflows. The book by Michael Freeman is a bit more difficult to work through, and the pictures are way too small in order to look at the different sliders and their impact on picture quality.


Thanks for your valuable comment Hendrik.

I usually go to dpreview for all things camera related. There you can find out about the bit depth of your camera.

You are correct about the two tone mapping modes. I just never used the tone compressor to the point where I forgot about it. I did not get better results though. I find that details enhancer gives me the level of control I want and generally more pleasing results. The tone compressor looks more nonlinear but also the highlights and shadows clip easier.

As always, it comes down to experimenting. Tastes are very different. I noticed a recent trend towards HDR processing with an emphasis on a very strong HDR look that I usually find a bit overdone.

Thanks for the book tip!

Bit depth of cameras

TXS for the link to DPReview.
For Nikon cameras, starting with the D300, DPReview states a A/D conversion of 14; therefore I assume that from the D300 upwards the Nikons use a 14 bit sensor. For older cameras, DPReview doesn't state this conversion, hence I assume them to be 12 bit.


You are prob. correct about the older models.
But: That does not mean 14-bit cameras record more highlights or shadows. The end points of the scale did not move, but instead each level now is split into 4 more giving smoother transitions. It's like splitting each slice of the same pie into 4 more, it's still the same pie.
This means you can still do HDR from a RAW of a 12-bit camera, like I showed in my original article.
The CMOS sensor itself is analog. The ADC is 14-bit, but if the noise level of the sensor is higher than 1/(2^15)=1/2LSB for the 14-bit ADC, you won't be able to resolve 14-bit. Hence I simply refer to 14-bit sensors. 14-bit creates larger files (7/6 times) and takes longer to process, but that is rectified by faster chips and bigger memories.
I build analog ICs (integrated circuits) for a living, sorry if I got carried away.
Thank you for your excellent feedback.

Why not 3 images converted from RAW instead of 5?


From a single RAW file why not generate 3 images with 2EV spacing instead of 5 images with 1EV spacing? Would that not give you equivalent results with less hassle? Please advise.

Bob B.


That is correct Bob. You can do that, but since the bitmaps are generated through nonlinear processing I am not sure if 5 wouldn't actually give slightly improved results. It is an interesting question. Let me investigate this.

extra !

hdr is grate ! photos are like pictures ! fantastic ! the best....


I use HDR after your article ... Thx Very Much ! Easy and grate efects

HDR process on portraits and general photos of people

Hi Andre! Greetings from Costa Rica. I read your article with great interest and thank you for your valuable insight and for sharing your knowledge. I wanted to ask if you've had the opportunity to test these techniques while photographing individuals and what your experiences have been. It seems that most of the forums, blogs, and galleries dedicated to this topic expressly avoid people photography and I'm wondering if it's because the medium does not extend well to that subject. Any thoughts or samples that you'd be willing to share?
Thank you in advance,


HDR portraits

Hello Fernando,

thank you very much for your interesting question. I have never tried HDR portraits myself. I think there are a few reasons why this is more suitable for landscape and architecture work and less suitable for portraits.
-Movement: Poeple tend to move between scenes, so multiple frame HDR work is out of the question. Single RAW hdr processing however can be done and I wouldn't be surprised if professional outdoor portrait shooters do it.
-Control: Portrait photographers usually control light. This is especially true in a studio, but also outdoors where they use reflectors and diffusers to control the amount of light on a persons face. The background is often intentionally out of focus. If the background is too bright, reposition the model. With so much control, the photographer can ensure best conditions and usually she/he is able to stay within the dynamic range of the camera.
-Artistic freedom: Often portrait photographers want to blow out highlights (high-key photography) in order to achieve a certain effect in their photography (and maybe to have more white space for magazine publishing)
-Natural skin tone: You need to carefully control your paramaters during HDR processing to avoid an unnatural look. In Nature photography this can be advantageous but with people shots we usually prefer a natural look.
-Noise: Boosting the dynamic range from a single RAW file will increase shadow noise. This is especially bothersome on people's faces, which means we cannot use this technique in a situation where the background is brighter than a persons face (e.g. underexpose the face and recover with this technique to keep the background exposed correct).


Very useful tutorial, thanks

tone mapping

What is the difference between using photo matrix to build this image, as opposed to just opening the multiple exposures (-2 -1 0 1 2) in Photoshop and using layer masks to blend the exposure levels together? Is there a fundamental difference or is this a workflow issue?

Tone Mapping vs. Exposure Blending

You were basically describing Exposure Blending, which is another mode that Photomatix supports.
HDR is different. First you use all exposures and generate a single picture that has a 32-bit floating point representation of brightness. This means it can hold all the brightness values, from extremely dark to extremely bright. Since Computer monitors do not have that kind of range and printers even less, we have to "transform the file".
I am not an expert in this, but I believe that the software applies a nonlinear mapping algorithm to bring all this brightness into the visible range. I has to be nonlinear vs. just compressing in order to preserve relative and absolute contrast.
Depending on the algorithm and the settings you can achieve different results.
The benefit of HDR is that you take the whole picture into consideration and can tweak local and global contrast while hammering all those levels into the visible range.

Great Tutorial

Thank you, a very detailed tutorial, I was searching allover the Net for this. God bless.


Thanks for nice post! I will

Thanks for nice post! I will give as a try. Regards

Very useful - thank you

Hi Andre
This tutorial was extremely useful for me. I am very new to HDR, and these past days I have learned so much. I have now experimented with a single 14-bit raw file (Nikon D700) and was very pleased by the results. My problem is that I photograph a lot of trees and in the Cape, there is almost always wind! So my bracketed photos were not giving good results...
With LR2 (I have not even tried with LR3beta yet), I select my raw file and create 2 or 4 virtual copies and change their exposures to (-2)-1 - +1(+2), then from the Plug-in Extra menu, I select export to Photomatix Pro 3.2.7 (align images uncheck - go directly to tone mapping checked - auto re-import as tiff 16 bits into LR2 checked). After fine-tuning the settings based on a saved preset, and processing the image, I can immediately view the final image in LR2. This is great and quite quick for individual images.
I also compared the unique raw file technique with 3 and 5 bracketed images and the conclusion is quite clear. In my case, there is definitely no need to take multiple exposure (also due to movement artifacts)!
May I suggest that you update your tutorial to mention that technique which does not imply the creation of intermediary files on the hard drive.
Now my question... as I am doing a lot of time-lapse series with 2000-3000 images each.
How can this technique be completely automate (I mean in a similar way as the batch mode for multiple files on disk)? Any idea?

Hello Paul. I am not

Hello Paul.

I am not familiar with Windows scripting. There should be a way to call any program or maybe record a certain set of keystrokes that can operate a GUI automatically. At least this is where I would start.
I noticed that Lightroom itself can extract a lot of detail. Try reducing exposure by one or two stops, cranking fill light all the way up and highlight recovery a bit. Then boost midtone contrast and adjust the black level a bit higher.
I often use this as a "mild" HDR technique for those images that don't need as much adjustemt. You can make it into a lightroom preset and automate.
Also check out HDR photo studio, where you can define a recipe.
Please let us know what you cone up with!


Your article was a very good read. I've been taking pictures with my XSi for a year and a half now, slowly getting better. I have a new 10-22 Sigma lens, and I was itching to take my pictures to a new level when I started reading about HDR. After reading your article, I'll be giving it a try and trying post-processing in Lightroom 2.

Thanks for the instruction!





noise problems

i always do and follow the step (bracketing, aperture priority, WB, Manual focus on camera noise reduction) etc...

then in Photoshop CS5 i import 3 differently exposed images and export 3 16bitt tiff's!

and then i import them in Photomatix and what happens!

the same setting the same situation sometimes i get just amazing HDR (i prefer photo realistic)
sometimes lots of disturbing noise???

i am just not smart anymore i have been digging around and no solution for my problem?
i am very careful and i always

i just can not figure it out what could cause the sometimes huge noise sometimes little if i always do it the same way?
Could it be my PC hardware fails to render i guess those images properly or something else???
any help please!


Not Hardware

Hello Jorde,

I do not believe that this is a hardware issue. I assume that you use Photoshop Camera Raw to create the tiff files? Do you use the auto option in ACR?
Noise is an indicator that you are pulling detail from shadows. This tells me, that even the overexposed images contain some relatively dark areas, and that the tools do their best to enhance the shadow detail. However, since the information content in the shadows is relatively low (low rgb values), the signal to noise ratio tends to be low. When you amplify the signals to usable levels you automatically see more noise.
That's technobabble for:
-Don't be too aggressive when you restore shadow detail or:
-Create more than 3 exposures and over-expose more to cover the shadow areas (make sure the histogram in the camera does not hit the left side anymore). This will give the tools more signal to work with.


I would remove every single one of these photos, they are just about the ugliest things i have seen. You ruined you photos with bad hdr processing. I don't know if it's you or your app but the results are just garbage. Color shift, over exposing dark areas oh man i could just go on and on...

RAW HDR image processing / tools

Greetings Andre,

I'm an old 35MM user who has had a number of digital cameras since the early 90's (the first decent Kodak was $1k back then, for hardly any capabilities- but it was pretty cool. They were nothing compared to my 35mm's though, but it was digital. Since then, I've had a number of digital cameras of varying capabilities. I've never dived into the DSLR pool yet, but the time is getting close- probably this summer. Just wanted to say thanks for clearing up the whole RAW HDR processing thing for me. I've been reading more and came across your blog- thanks for the information, very educational.

Take care,


Your article

I think you cleared up some of the doubts I had. Thanks so much. Great article.
I bookmarked it 'cz I need to come back and read it over and over again. No time right now - but
I wanted to quickly write this comment to let you know how much I appreciate it.

This goes to show I have to learn so much. I know so little........!!!!

Horrible - If you have such

Horrible - If you have such a passion for photography and a belief that Andre has got it wrong, why is it that you cannot post your name?

That's amazing! Thanks for

That's amazing! Thanks for this great tutorial. To be honest I did not even know this was possible and I must admit it looks very impressive. I sure am glad I found this tutorial by accident while searching in Google. I was actually searching for something else haha! Anyway, thanks again for sharing this great tutorial.

I do a little photography

I do a little photography and am just finding my way around. I found this tutorial very enlightening and I plan to try it out soon!! Actually, I had no idea Photomatix could do so much – after reading about it here, I certainly am planning to get more information about it and try it out!! I’ve got a friend who is really good and I am sure that he’ll also find this very interesting to take advantage of it!!


Very useful tutorial

I don't know if I would ever

I don't know if I would ever use this, as I prefer to fine tune my pictures with a full fledged RAW editor.
However I don't tune much on hdr images (maybe some sharpening but thats about it).
I do remember that HDRSoft was not exactly promoting generating HDR files from a single RAW, since the software can do so much more, so maybe thats a new feature. how to get rid of skin moles


Thank You Andre for this tutorial:)


for posting this!

Your article was a very good

Your article was a very good read. I've been taking pictures with my XSi for a year and a half now, slowly getting better. plummer vinson syndrome I have a new 10-22 Sigma lens, and I was itching to take my pictures to a new level when I started reading about HDR


One of the better tuts I've come across for HDR, I totally disagree with a guy telling that the images are bad.
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I was really surprised when I came along and saw you using Photomatix. I didn't know it was so popular these days. I love it and use it for a lot of my pictures, but i have to say you dont get the same quality with 1 image as you do with shooting in camera. I have a lot of hdr nature pictures on my website check it out.

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Hi, I'm trying to do HDR

Hi, I'm trying to do HDR from a single raw, but all i get is super noisy images... any tips?

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RAW HDR processing is defined very well.

RAW HDR processing is defined very well. In here the the process of setting and configuration detail are explained nicely.Photomatix is an excellent software. Of course it is to use its full potential, pick a difficult scene and shoot a lot of exposures. Thank you so much for your beautiful work.

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RAW HDR tutorial.

RAW HDR processing is explained very nice. Here define process of setting and configuration detail is explained nicely.Photomatrix is an excellent software .Definitely it is to use its full potential, pick a difficult scene and shoot a lot of exposures. Thank you so much for your beautiful share.

RAW HDR tutorial.

RAW HDR processing is explained very nice. Here define process of setting and configuration detail is explained nicely.Photomatrix is an excellent software .Definitely it is to use its full potential, pick a difficult scene and shoot a lot of exposures. Thank you so much for your beautiful share.

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I know a lot of dallas advertising photographers that use photomatix, but do not actually use this professionally. It's good for fun, but that's it.

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Very useful article for me, there is more information I have is very important. Thank you!

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I never used hdr Technic,

I never used hdr Technic, because i didn't understand it, now its much more easier..

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It's been a while now since you guys did this post, but the great thing about it, rather than the great tutorial, is that it's still relevant information.

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