In my recent post, I answered the question, “Which photo software do you use?” After thinking about it some more, I realized that there was more that I could, and probably should, have said. So here are some more notes.
For Photomatix, you don’t necessarily have to use three different exposures, although that is how the program works best. You can also use a single RAW file if you prefer. Most all cameras can be set to save photos as RAW instead of JPG. My camera actually saves both at one time, so I have both if I need them. Lately, I have mainly used the JPG files, although I occasionally use a RAW file instead.
If I am just plugging the brackets into Photomatix, I use the JPG files. The main times that I use a RAW file are those times when I only have one exposure of a scene. If there is a lot of action going on, I won’t bother taking three exposures, because there will be too much variation between them. Or if I am moving, such as if I am on a ride, I will only take one exposure for the same reason. By setting my camera to save both, I don’t have to worry at the time about which one I might use. The only downside to that is that it takes up more room on the memory card to have both file types.
Here is an example of an image that I produced using only a single RAW file:
The parade was rolling by, so I just got this one exposure of Mickey and the gang on the float. But Photomatix still gave it a pretty unique look, I think, which made it one of my favorite photos of last year.
Also, I should point out that you can produce a finished image straight from Photomatix if you want to. It will save files as TIF or JPG, and you can just go with that if you choose. I like to take mine a little farther, however, and that is why I use Corel PaintShop Pro.
If you don’t want to go the whole three exposure/Photomatix route, you can still do some pretty neat things with your photos using the various editing programs out there. There are other big names out there. Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Lightroom are some that come to mind. But for my needs, and for the money, PaintShop Pro does just fine.
If you don’t want to use Photomatix, here is an example of what you can do with a RAW file in PaintShop Pro. In this shot of United Kingdom at Epcot, I used the “Adjust” settings to bring up the brightness and color saturation a bit and apply a little bit of tonemapping, similar in some ways to the tonemapping that Photomatix does. Then I used the “Edit” settings to tweak it a bit more, mainly just removing some of the noise and sharpening the image just a bit. I think it turned out well.
Once again, those are just some of the things that I do. There is no right or wrong way to do things, as long as you are happy with the final image you come up with.