A few months ago, I was sitting with Tony Sweet, discussing the joys of teaching photography classes, when the topic turned to HDR photography. Tony and I had both been beta-testing a new plug-in from Nik Software for performing HDR tone-mapping, and quite frankly we were excited about this new product. There are a lot of good tone-mapping options out there for HDR, but with Nik’s HDR Efex Pro, photographers have some significant processing advantages.
Unlike other products, which typically use a confusing set of controls, HDR Efex Pro uses logical adjustment sliders, like contrast, saturation, and structure. These are tools similar to what you’ll find in most of the other Nik plug-ins. Moreover, HDR Efex Pro uses Nik’s proprietary Control Points for creating local image adjustments. Photographers can now perform nearly every major image adjustment on HDR images in one tool. You’ll still need to sharpen, but that’s often all that’s needed after using HDR Efex Pro. In the past, the tone-mapping step was simply the first stage of a post-processing journey. Lastly, HDR Efex Pro uses 20 different tone-mapping algorithms, so the creative possibilities are nearly endless.
We both realized that we had a unique opportunity to educate our clients about performing HDR tone-mapping with this new and powerful tool. So we sat down and produced The Photographer’s Guide to HDR Efex Pro, which is now available via download (PDF) from Luminescence of Nature Press.
This book combines technical details with artistic creativity. We start off by offering some of the history of HDR imaging and provide field techniques for obtaining the best possible exposure series. We then move on to the “manual” part of the guide, where we explain, in illustrated detail, every tool, slider, and preset in HDR Efex Pro. We show you the straighforward tools (saturation) and the not so straightforward ones (HDR Method). We also uncover the “hidden” tools, like the RGB histogram and the Levels & Curves tool.
In the final section of the book, Tony and I lay out fourteen different “recipes” for creating HDR styles. We also created custom HDR Efex Settings Presets, which are included with the eBook (you can download them here for free and try them yourself). These 14 presets span the range from realistic to surreal, and also include a couple of black & white options (you can make great b&w HDRs in HDR Efex Pro).
We’ve also made sure to include a gallery of some of our favorite HDR images, with a technical and artistic description for each one. These images are available as fine-art prints; contact us at support(at)luminescentphoto.com if you would like one.
The Photographer’s Guide to HDR Efex Pro is user printable, iPad friendly, and available for only $24.99 from Luminescence of Nature Press. We hope you like it. If you are interested in purchasing HDR Efex Pro, you can save 15% by using coupon code JODELL at the Nik online store.