There are a number of software options for HDR work. HDR, High Dynamic Range, is an effect that's easy to overdo, and the resulting images can look garish, gritty and "hyper-real." Because there's so much overuse, many nature photographers shun the technology without giving it a try. The real fact is that HDR software, when used carefully and in moderation, lets you pull out detail that brings a photograph much closer to what your eye sees. In this article on converting color to black-and-white, Rick Sheremeta uses HDR software to enhance the image prior to the conversion to monochrome, and the results are incredible. Here are a few software options you should know about.
HDRsoft Photomatix. One of the pioneers in the technology, HDRsoft's Photomatix remains a popular and powerful option. Photomatix Essentials and Photomatix Pro are standalone programs for Windows and Mac OS X. Some of the features are available as plug-ins for Lightroom, Photoshop and Aperture. Photomatix Essentials is $39, and Photomatix Pro is $99. Go to www.hdrsoft.com for more details.
Nik Software HDR Efex Pro. Nik Software is well-known for its "photographer-oriented" interfaces and controls. HDR Efex Pro uses the company's U Point technology, a variety of presets and the ability to make precise adjustments to give you maximum control over the HDR effects. The $99 program can be used as a plug-in for Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom and Aperture. Go to www.niksoftware.com for more information.
Unified Color Technologies. There are different levels of computer and Photoshop users, so Unified Color makes different levels of its HDR software. HDR Expose 2, 32 Float v2 and HDR Express each has its own level of sophistication. If you want to cover your bases, the company offer a Combo Suite, which includes HDR Expose 2 and 32 Float v2 for $199. We don't have space here to discuss each program in detail, but you can get all of the information at www.unifiedcolor.com.