Verdict: 4.5 stars Affinity Photo 2 is not a huge leap forward from version 1 for photographers, but more a major refresh and rebranding for Affinity. It remains an extremely powerful professional Photoshop rival at an exceptionally low price. Its tone mapping is superb, its RAW processing can now be applied non-destructively and its central Photo personal is hugely powerful.
HDR and how it works
HDR stands for 'high dynamic range', a style of image processing that's become both popular and notorious. It's a technique that's used to capture scenes with a very high brightness range and employs various tools to bring the brightest and darkest parts close enough together that they can both be seen in a single viewable image.
There are two parts to this. The first is capturing a series of exposures (or even a single exposure, maybe with a RAW file) that captures the full range of tones on the scene.
The second part is using 'tonemapping' or HDR software to manipulate the very brightest and darkest areas so that the details in both become clearly visible. Some programs (Lightroom, Affinity Photo) offer HDR merge and tonemapping tools as part of their regular feature set while others (HDR Efex Pro, Aurora HDR) are designed specifically for high dynamic range imaging.
Some photographers try to make HDR images look as natural and 'unmanipulated' as possible. Others revel in the hyper-real colours, contrast and detail afforded by some of the more outlandish HDR tools out there.
How I use merged HDR stacks as ’super-negatives’
Lightroom and Capture One offer HDR tools with a difference. They don’t create wild and exaggerated HDR effects. Instead, they create what I would call DNG ‘super-negatives’ with extended dynamic range that you can then exploit however you like.
How to use HDR merge in Capture One 22 – and how well does it work?
Capture One 22 brings an HDR merge feature that quickly combines several exposures into a single fully editable DNG file with extended dynamic range. But how well does it work?
How to use Aurora HDR with Lightroom as a plug-in: for single exposures or bracketed sets
You can use Aurora HDR 2019 as a standalone program, but if you have Lightroom it’s a lot easier and more efficient to launch it from Lightroom as a plug-in. You can use Aurora HDR with Lightroom very easily, but the method is not the same for single images and bracketed exposures.
HDR can work wonders on interiors: this is a church in Porto in Aurora HDR
HDR can work wonders on interiors. HDR is not just for high-contrast outdoor scenes or extended dynamic range photography. It can also give interiors a unique, rich and dramatic look.
The Detail Extractor in Analog Efex Pro is like a magic bullet for contrast issues
Analog Efex Pro, part of the DxO Nik Collection has an excellent tool that’s easily missed but lies at the heart of many of this software’s striking analog film effects.
Dynamic range and exposure
Dynamic range is the camera sensor’s ability to capture detail in very bright and very dark parts of a scene. Cameras (or sensors) with a low dynamic range record dark shadows as a solid black or bright highlights as a featureless white.
Bits and bit depth explained
Bit depth is an important concept in digital imaging if you want the best possible image quality and if you intend to manipulate images heavily.
Using HDR Efex Pro for everyday enhancement
Usually, HDR images are pretty obvious. The technique is part of the ‘look’. But it’s also possible to use HDR to enhance regular images to add depth and drama, but winding the effect back just a little so that it’s no longer center stage. So for this shot I used DxO PhotoLab and HDR Efex […]
HDR Efex Pro 2 review
Verdict: 4 stars HDR Efex Pro 2 manages to make HDR relatively easy, and it produces ‘good’ HDR which is dynamic, rich and exciting. It still wraps it up in a bit too much jargon, but it does produce a good variety of ready-made HDR presets so that you don’t have to get caught up in the manual adjustments if you don’t want to.