Immersive HDR Panorama of The Grand Canyon

 HDR Images, HDR Info, HDR Panorama, immersive, RS Productions, virtual reality, VR HDR  Comments Off on Immersive HDR Panorama of The Grand Canyon
May 252014
Click the image below to view the Immersive HDR panorama:


May 252014

In this webinar photographer Richard Sisk demonstrates how to create stunning HDR Panoramas using the new Pano Prep Batch Processing feature in HDR Expose 3.1 and 3rd party stitching applications.



Introducing HDR Express 2

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Nov 052012

This tutorial introduces Unified Color’s New HDR Express 2 and several of its new and improved features and functionality.

Coupon Code “HDR360pro”


This presentation looks best in 720p and full screen.

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Black & White HDR On The Road In Spain – by Will Austin

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Sep 262012

Black & White HDR On The Road In Spain – Will Austin

Seattle Commercial, Architectural and Editorial Photography – Will Austin Photography

“I have always dreamed of going to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry so we tacked on a few days there at the end of our trip. Upon arriving we were amazed to see the view from our apartment across the Nervion river, the museum seemed close enough to touch. After taking hundreds of photos in the area the first day, I decided to try a bracketed night shot from the bedroom window. I used my 24mm Tilt-Shift lens to keep the verticals straight and shot 7 one stop brackets. Then I used HDR Express to process from the raw files and later touched up where there was cloud movement around the crescent moon, etc. I really like this image, it is a unique view of the building at an unusual time and there is detail in the shadows and in the brightest areas under the street lights. Also, notice the huge crowd at the far right side, there was a big concert in the park that night!”

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John Warner Professional HDR Photography Webinar!

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Aug 272012



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HDR Tip #8 – Avoid Moving Objects by John Omvik

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Jun 162012

Here is the next installment of HDR tips by Unified Color VP of Marketing John Omvik. Here’s John:

In my last post I discussed the importance of firmly securing your camera when shooting exposure brackets for HDR scenes. The key was to eliminate movement between frames that can cause merge and alignment issues. Once the camera is secure, our attention needs to shift to the objects themselves.

This image has moving water and clouds, the smooth de-ghosting option is best for this type of scene. It smoothly blends the images producing sharp results in stationary objects like the rocks in the foreground and blends the movement in the water.

Since we are taking multiple exposures that will be merged together it is also just as important to avoid moving objects in your scene that can change their location or position from one frame to the next. Objects moving between frames are called ghosts because they can show a combination of both the moving object as well as the background scene and appear ghost like. Since we are dealing with HDR and multiple exposures that render different brightness levels from the individual frames, a ghost may not appear as a solid image, but only part of a tonal range of the object. For example if an object moves between frames, the shadow portion of the object may render in one position while the highlights render in another.

This image has stationary objects and a person walking through the frame in the upper right corner.

There are 2 types of ghost effects, and many different ways to address them, I call them rooted and mobile ghosts. A rooted ghost is slight movement in what is really a fixed object. Example of these are leaves of a tree, water in a stream or even clouds in the sky. In most cases these have some anchor point in the image that isn’t moving (for clouds, the blue sky counts as an anchor). In these cases we are not so concerned with detail in the moving parts and prefer to smoothly blend the motion preserving the sharpness of the other elements in the image. In HDR Expose 2, we refer to this as “Natural” Ghost reduction. Mobile ghosts are objects that actually move from one position in the image to another between frames, such as a car driving or a person walking through a scene. Rather than blend the object which would look strange we prefer to isolate the object with a sharp edge that better defines the object and allows us to more easily clean it up in post. In HDR Expose 2 we call that the “Sharp Edges” ghost reduction. For images that have both rooted and mobile ghosts there is the smooth edges option that attempts to best address both types of motion. If you are using 32 Float v2 to process your HDR images and Photoshop to do the merge step, you have the option of selecting a “key frame” that the others are compared against in order to isolate movement.

In this case the natural option produces undesirable results the moving object (person) is blended with the background and each other.

A close up look at the sharp edges method produces much better results. There is still a slight outline of the ghost from the other frame, but these are minor and can easily be retouched out. Another option would be to wait until the gentleman had made his way through the frame, but that is not always possible in crowded areas.

De-ghosting of any type is just additional image processing that you are better avoiding if at all possible. So until we have cameras that can capture the full dynamic range of a scene in a single shot, or can bracket so fast that they can freeze motion between frames, it is best avoid shooting in-door shots in busy locations with lots of people moving through a frame or shooting outdoor scenes on windy days.

PCWorld Review: Unified Color Technologies HDR Expose 2

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May 232012

Unified Color Technologies HDR Expose 2 Photography Software Review | PCWorld

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Apr 272012

This is obvious but essential. As tempting as it may be to shoot free hand (or from the hip),if you want good, sharp HDR images you need to stabilize your camera. Ideally, use a sturdy tripod, or in a pinch, set the camera down on a solid surface.



Second, some of your over exposed frames need to capture shadow details and you may actually be shooting at shutter speeds so long that you can have difficulties holding the camera steady. So in addition to creating problems aligning frames that shifted due to the camera changing position between frames, you may also have frames that are blurry due to long exposure times. These will have a negative affect on the merge process and image sharpness.In addition to a sturdy tripod or solid surface to mount the camera, you will also want to minimize any movement caused by you touching the camera between shots. This can be accomplished a number of ways, the easiest of which is to use the self timer or a cable release trigger to fire the camera. Another option that several professionals use is Promote Remote This device plugs-in to your camera and actually takes over the bracketing and exposure controls. This is a huge benefit for Canon shooters with cameras that only support 3 shot bracketing.Of course if you really want to get picky and you are shooting with a D-SLR, you’ll mount the camera on a weighted tripod with a sturdy ball head, put the camera in Mirror-Up mode and use the cable release or Promote Remote to fire the camera. This adds an extra delay between the moment the mirror goes up and when the shutter opens, reducing any additional vibration caused by the mirror flipping up and down.Don’t forget, if you are using Vibration Reduction, Image Stabilized or Steady Shot lenses, turn this feature off when the camera is attached to a tripod. You don’t want to induce lens movement when the camera isn’t moving.There are some promising new camera and sensor technologies on the horizon that will allow for very fast sequential exposures that may eventually get us to the point of having a virtual 1-click HDR series that can be captured freehand without the need for a tripod. Until then, its better to not hold your breath and just use the reliable tripod.


Photography 101: HDR imaging explained by John Santoro

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Apr 212012

Every once in a while we run across another way to describe HDR photography. There is the ongoing controversy over whether HDR constitutes real photography. We think HDR is advanced photography.

Here’s a great explanation of HDR techniques we found in NDTV Gadgets.

No matter how many people look at a photograph shot using the ‘High Dynamic Range’ (HDR) technique, there will always be a handful who will challenge its authenticity as a photograph, and claim it to be either a painting or an elaborately photoshopped image. The struggle of convincing people that HDR qualifies as photography has been a long and arduous one, with both sides being supported by prominent figures in the field. The primary bone of contention arises from a lack of understanding of what the HDR technique is, and towards that end, here is a point-by-point break down of the process and its history.

First off, we must clearly understand what the HDR technique entails. When we take a single photograph of a scene, our camera captures a certain amount of color information, a certain amount of brightness information and a certain amount of contrast information. By virtue of the laws of physics, the digital sensor is only capable of capturing a limited amount of information, an amount that is far less than what the human eye can comprehend.

The range of information luminance (combination of color, contrast and brightness) that the camera sensor captures for ONE exposure is called the dynamic range of the sensor. For most modern DSLRs, this number varies between 7 and 11 stops of exposure whereas the eye can easily recognize up to 15 stops of information. However, when speaking of HDR images, we are most concerned with not the luminance information, but in capturing the widest possible gamut of contrast range. While modern day digital sensors have a contrast ratio of up to 2048:1, the human eye’s contrast detection ranges from 1024:1 to 16384:1. This large contrast range is what enables us to see the tree leaves as green despite the sun shining from right behind them in a blue sky. Shoot the same scene with a camera and the green of the color will turn black and the sky would go absolutely white.



So the above scene of looking up at a leaf with the blue sky and the sun in the background can be broken down into three areas, photographically. The sun would be called the ‘highlight’ area, where there is maximum illumination, the leaf would be called the ‘shadows’ area because the viewing surface of the leaf is directly in front of the source of light (causing it to be covered in a shadow) and the sky would be considered the ‘midtones’ area as its illumination is less than the highlight area, but more than the leaf. What HDR photography entails is taking three photographs, without moving the camera, of the three areas we just spoke of so as to get them as best exposed as possible.

Most modern day DSLRs now allow users to set exposure bracketing, an automated method where the camera takes a set number of photos at exposure levels a set increment away from the base exposure. Of the DSLRs that offer this feature, most allow only three exposures within an exposure difference of 2 stops, meaning, if the base exposure is set at zero, then the 2nd exposure will be under-exposed by 2 stops and the third exposure will be over-exposed by 2 stops. There are three things to always keep in mind when attempting at HDR photography.

1) The same exposure difference will not work for all kinds of scenes, meaning, what settings may work for one scene, might not work for another.

2) Not all scenes can be shot as HDR. These would generally include scenes where the mid-day sun is high in the air and your subject stands right in front of it.

3) Shooting the primary exposures is only the first step of a two-step process.

Once the exposures have been shot, they need to be processed in software developed to create HDR images out of multiple exposures. Again, this is not as simple as taking different parts of an image and pasting it onto a single image. The process involves reading color, brightness and contrast information in the photos and merging that information into a single jpg file with all the information blending in smoothly, as if it were all part of a singular image to begin with.

The process for doing this is called ‘Tone Mapping’, where the overall contrast ratio is reduced to that of a normal photograph, but the local contrast of each pixel is maintained with respect to its neighboring pixel. Tone mapping offers a plethora of settings that control almost every aspect of the merged image, from amount of contrast to amount of saturation to the amount of ‘blend’ of the three (or more) images. This is where, as an artist, you would decide whether to keep the HDR blend look realistic, turn it into a surreal blast of colors and contrast.

While the best HDR images are created through an arduous process, toiling in the field and then on the computer, there are certain cameras that allow in-camera HDR, with some newer cellphones also sporting the feature, for example, the iPhone 4(s). The native HDR mode on such devices would shoot two exposures (one for shadows and one for highlights) before blending them, and then simply present the blended result. The user often would not have any control over how the images get blended together. There are a few apps for the iPhone that does allow some level of control over the settings, but the number of shots being limited to two effectively leaves out much of the contrast information that is normally contained in the midtones shot.

HDR photography existed in the era of film, where photographers would splice together negatives of different exposures to create one perfectly blended positive image, and now, the same technique is being carried out through the digital workflow. The process of HDR requires just as much creativity as it does technical skill, so the only way to master it, as one would photography, is through a lot of practice. So get out there with your cameras and tripods and start shooting!

Please click the link below to save on Unified Color HDR Expose 2, 32 Float 2 and  HDR Express:

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Unified Color Announces Lightroom 4 Support

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Apr 122012

Unified Color Announces Lightroom 4 Support | PhotographyBLOG

John Omvik’s HDR Tip 6 – Always Shoot In RAW mode

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Mar 092012

Photo: © 2012 John Santoro

Most HDR Software can accept JPEG, TIFF or RAW files as input for the merge process, and HDR Express and HDR Expose are no exceptions. If you only have JPEG or TIFF legacy images that you want to process you don’t have an option, but going forward you will get better results if you shoot and process RAW image files for HDR.JPEG and TIFF files are great final output file types, but they have been processed causing clipped exposure ranges, artifacts due to applied contrast curves and in the case of JPEG files, artifacts due to compression.

When we merge individual images into 32-bit HDR images, we need to undo most of those changes to create the linear data to process the areas of exposure overlap. In many cases this works well, but in some cases such as extreme lighting conditions working with JPEG or TIFF source files can create areas of posterization where especially highlight data can be clipped in processed files. JPEG source images have the additional disadvantage of compression artifacts that will change the between the different exposures and create alignment issues.

Closeup of merged RAW image

Closeup of merged jpeg image with artifacts circled


You want to isolate the differences between the bracketed images to only exposure times. If each image has different JPEG compression artifacts in different areas of the image these changes will be exaggerated when merged.

RAW Files provide us much better source data to work with. The data is linear and has not been process or had tone curves applied. Also, RAW files typically have 12 or 14-bits of data with extended highlight information. This allows us to create 32-bit HDR images with much smoother transitions and less potential for posterization with no compression artifacts.

So if you have a choice going forward when shooting for HDR set the camera to RAW and do the HDR merge and tone mapping operations first on 32-bit HDR data. Then, save the image as a TIFF file. If you still have some local corrections or retouching to do, work on the output TIFF file then.

The fundamental workflow rule of digital photography processing is to start with the big items first and work your way down to the smaller details. In HDR, processing the merge and the tone mapping are the first order of business.

For more information on Unified Color HDR software products including HDR Expose 2, HDR Express and 32 Float please click the link below:

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Your coupon code “HDR360pro” will be applied automatically.

Feb 062012



HDR Expose 2

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Feb 062012

“This week it was a real thrill for me to host a live webinar with photographer Richard Sisk to talk about HDR panoramic photography. Richard has been shooting panos professionally for many years and was able to share some of his legacy work as well as tips and techniques for creating digital HDR panoramas.”

John Omvik, Vice President of Marketing, Unified Color Technologies

HDR Panorama Photography with Richard Sisk Parts 1 &2 recorded on 1/31/2012

This presentation looks best in full screen.



“In this next tutorial photographer Richard Sisk shares his tips and techniques for creating stunning HDR Panoramas. In part 2 of 2 Richard demonstrates how he processes his stitched and merged 32-bit HDR Panoramas using HDR Expose 2.”

John Omvik, Vice President of Marketing, Unified Color Technologies

This presentation looks best in full screen.



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Unified Color’s John Omvik on HDR Expose 2 and 32 Float 2

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Jan 212012




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John Omvik Says – Shoot With Manual Settings

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Nov 122011

Useful Tips on Creating HDR Images from John Omvik!


In order to capture the dynamic range of an HDR scene you need to bracket several exposures. For the best results you must ensure, that with the exception of exposure times, little varies from frame to frame. The best way to do this is to lock your settings in manual mode.

Most modern cameras allow you to save custom user settings in the camera so that they are easy to recall when you need them. If you are serious about HDR photography it makes sense to dedicate one of these custom user settings for HDR.

Here is the list of settings I recommend.

– RAW Image Capture: This ensures that you get the most from every shot. Some cameras allow you to choose between 12 and 14-bit RAW files. If you have an option always go with the higher bit depth. Never use reduced resolution RAW files, always choose the full size. Like my grandmother used to say, never worry about the sausage that is too long, you can always make it shorter, but not the other way around.

– Manual White balance: When shooting RAW, the white balance really doesn’t matter since you can always change it later. I recommend picking one setting and sticking with it. Choose Daylight or Tungsten, if you are really picky create a custom WB setting, but always use the same setting for the whole sequence.

– Shoot Aperture Priority or Manual Exposure: Regardless of which one you use, you want to lock the aperture down and only vary the shutter speed. Varying the exposure with different aperture settings or f-stops will set a different depth of field for each frame which will create problems in the merge and alignment process.

– Set your EV increments to 1EV: Most cameras are set to 1/3 EV increments by default, each time you move the command dial one click it changes the exposure by one third of a stop. For HDR 1/3 EV is just too fine an exposure resolution. Change the camera settings so that a single click adjusts the exposure by 1EV and you’ll need to touch the camera less between each exposure.

– Use the AF Lock button to focus: Most cameras are set to focus by default when the shutter button is pressed halfway down. This is a great feature for most types of photography. For HDR however, you don’t want to have to acquire focus for each shot of a sequence and risk focusing on different areas of the image by mistake. Having different areas in focus can also cause problems in the merge process. It is much better to set your camera so that it only focuses when you press the AF-On or AF-Lock button. This way you can lock your camera down on a tripod, frame up your scene, acquire focus once and lock it and shoot your bracketed set of images without refocusing. Just make sure to lock down the focus first for your next scene as well. Remember even if you use a cable release, if the camera is set to focus on half shutter press, pressing the button on the cable release will be the same as pressing the actual shutter button.

If you follow these tips and set your camera up in manual mode, you will get much more reproducible bracketed exposure series and be more likely to get better HDR results.

In the next tip, I’ll explain in more detail why RAW capture produces better HDR images than TIFF or JPEG.

HDR Software | HDR Photography | Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture Plug-ins

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New HDR Tips from John Omvik, VP Marketing at Unified Color

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Aug 262011

Please click the link below to read this new article by John Omvik:

New HDR Tips from John Omvik, VP Marketing at Unified Color

Merced River, Spring Morning, HDR!

 HDR Images, HDR Software, HDR Styles, HDR360pro Discounts, RS Productions  Comments Off on Merced River, Spring Morning, HDR!
Jul 182011

This was an extremely high contrast scene. I combined the raw images in Photoshop CS5, merged the tiffs in 32 Float from Unified Color and post processed in CS5, Nik Viveza 2 and Topaz Adjust.

Do you like it?

500px / Photo “Merced River, Spring Morning, Yosemite” by Richard Sisk

Click image to enlarge.

Terry Eggers’ Sophisticated HDR photos – and way more, by John Santoro

 HDR Images, HDR Info, HDR Software, HDR Styles, HDR360pro Discounts  Comments Off on Terry Eggers’ Sophisticated HDR photos – and way more, by John Santoro
Jun 222011

Terry Eggers’ Sophisticated HDR photos – and way more

Eggers Photography

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Exposing for HDR with John Omvik

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Mar 252011


Demystifying HDR Tutorial

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Feb 082011

Here is a terrific tutorial by John Omvik from Unified Color:


HDR Software | HDR Photography | Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture Plug-ins