Machinery HDR Effects
Over the last week few weeks I have been trying out a new piece of software for HDR processing called Machinery HDR Effects 2. According to the developers...
MACHINERY is software, which implements HDR technology. You don’t need to be a specialist to achieve in a simple way wonderful effects even from a single picture in JPG format. Simplification of the interface and limitation of options makes MACHINERY easy to use. Ready sets of settings give the chance of achieving the effect with just one click of a mouse!
Normally when I'm shooting for HDR, I will create a bracket of 5 images with exposures ranging from -2 through to + 2 which will be processed with my HDR Software. However, it's not always possible to create that bracketed set due to such things as moving objects i.e. people, or it's getting dark and I don't have my tripod. In instances like that I normally shoot one image and hope that one of my HDR programs will be able to give me something I can use.
With that thought in mind I decided to see what Machinery HDR Effects 2 could achieve with one RAW image straight from the camera in Adobe DNG format and sRGB colourspace.
I think you will agree that this looks a great deal better. It's not over saturated and in general you can see the detail in all of the image. The lighthouse does lean to one side in case you were wondering.
To demonstrate how I achieved the final result I used Ashampoo Snap 5 to grab screen-shots of my processing steps.
Machinery HDR Effects comes with its own version of Explorer which allows you to select the files you want to use and pass them to the main program
If you select any thumbnail a larger window will open giving you details about the image
Right then, back to my single RAW image.
You can at this point let Machinery choose default settings and proceed on to processing. However if you wish you can change the White Balance, adjust the Tone Curve and the HDR Method before proceeding to processing.
Something else I found out later. If you right click on the thumbnail a menu pops up which will allow you to adjust the exposure correction in 1Ev steps to plus 3 or minus 2. You can also create a bracket set plus/minus two from your single RAW.
Once the HDR image has been created the next step is to process it using the various settings in the Processing Module.
Working with my image I only used 4 of the tabs in the Processing Module, these were
Clicking on the down arrow exposes more of the steps for processing, for instance here's the Highlight/Shadows module
For this image I used the Highlight/Shadow module to give a slight increase in overall brightness but it was in the Details Module that I did the most adjustments.
You can either choose one of the preset settings by clicking on one of the preset buttons.
Each one of these increases the level of detail. For this image I found the second button from the left hand side gives enough without being too over the top. Then I adjusted the Small Details a little to take away the severity of the detailing. Alternative to using the preset positions you individually adjust the sliders. If you increase the detail too much use the far left hand button to set everything back to neutral.
Next I wanted to increase the saturation. There are two ways to do this. You can either increase the overall saturation as can be seen in this image
Or, you can choose to increase the saturation of individual colours
Using the eye-dropper tool I can select a colour (circled in the image). This will be shown on the colour chart (highlighted with the arrow). By moving the point on the line to the left or right I can decrease or increase the saturation. Look at the image below. You can see that by moving the point to the right the saturation of the red colour has increased compared to the image above.
I could spend a lot of time talking about adjustments but you would soon get bored and this blog post would become far too long. However I would like to mention the presets which the developers at HDR Machinery Effects 2 mention in their product statement.
I counted 36 presets that could be used on this image and you get easy access to them by means of a tabbed button at the top of the interface. Now obviously I can't show you all 36 but the image below will give you an idea of what to expect as it shows a selection of some of the possible presets
Once you select a preset you can either keep it as it is. This is the Warehouse preset.
Or, you can use the pre-set as the basis for a "certain look", then use the Processing Module to make final adjustments.
Machinery HDR Effects 2 is a Windows-based program and supports 64 bit processing. You can download a trial from here . You can see examples of what can be created from the Machinery 2 gallery. There's also a comprehensive tutorial giving examples of how to use Machinery HDR Effects 2.
Personally, I found Machinery HDR Effects 2 extremely easy to use not only for HDR processing but also just for RAW developing. It gave me far better control of my RAW images than I would have thought possible from a piece of software dedicated to HDR Processing. Give it a try, you might find you like it, I know I did.
Disclaimer: I am not connected in any way to the developers of Machinery HDR Effects 2. My review of Machinery HDR Effects 2 is based solely on use of the trial software over the last two weeks.
To see some images I have created using Machinery HDR Effects follow the link to my new HDR Photography Blog titled HDR Images by Mike Hardisty
Well what else did you think I was going to call it....?
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