Picturenaut: HDR for Cheap

HDR

I’ve always been interested in high dynamic range (HDR) photography, the merging two or more photos to get more detail in shadows and highlights. Unfortunately, neither my Canon XSi nor Picasa includes any HDR features, and Photoshop costs a lot of money. Photomatix costs about $100, which is more reasonable but still a lot of money for a cheap enthusiast like me. Luckily, I found Picturenaut, which lets you do HDR photography for free (although the developers do take donations).

I combined the two photos below using Picturenaut to create the HDR photo. There’s much more detail and color in the sky and ocean of the HDR photo. It took me no more than a couple minutes to merge the two photos and perform tone mapping. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what tone-mapping does, but you’re supposed to do it. Picturenaut also supports RAW files.

One minor inconvenience is that files are exported in TIFF format. You’ll have to convert your TIFF files to JPG if you want.

So, how does Picturenaut compare with Photoshop? Check out TwinPixels for a comparison. Captain Kimo has a nice video tutorial that walks you through the process.

Exposure 1
Exposure 2
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