Nov 072014


Webinar Registration

In this free webinar, professional photographer and educator Reed Hoffmann demonstrates how to make the best of any high contrast situation. Learn how to overcome challenges that previously would have made it almost impossible to produce a good HDR photo without a lot of advance planning and special gear. Get the best results from scenes with moving objects, when you don’t have a tripod handy or have a camera that only supports 3 auto exposure brackets.

This Webinar will cover:
– How to evaluate a scene and determine if HDR is required
– How to choose the proper exposure brackets
– How to avoid common mistakes during capture
– How to choose the ideal set of images to merge
– How to use the HDR Express 3 standalone application and Lightroom plug-in
– Which merge options work best for different scenes
– How to process 32-bit color images in HDR Express 3 and create presets
– Options for saving your work in HDR Express 3

Who should attend? – Photographers and enthusiasts new to HDR or interested in learning about new tools and techniques. Existing customers who are currently using HDR Express 2 and considering upgrading to version 3.

About Reed:
A professional photographer for over 30 years, Reed Hoffmann’s career has ranged from newspapers to commercial work to teaching. He’s been shooting digital since 1996, and since then has helped nearly 50 organizations convert to digital, created numerous instructional photography and workflow programs and produced and taught the Nikon School of Photography. His clients have included Nikon, Lexar, Best Buy, the New York Times, Microsoft, NBC, Reuters, the Associated Press, Mark Burnett Productions and USA Today. Reed’s won many national awards for his photography and been named a Microsoft Icon of Imaging, Nikon Legend Behind the Lens and Lexar Pro Elite photographer. He’s led dozens of hands-on photography workshops all over the world and writes instructional stories on photography at

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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.

Thanks for watching.


Jun 212012

H.D.R. Photography for the Realist –

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.


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:

 HDR Expose 2 »

Apr 122012

Unified Color Announces Lightroom 4 Support | PhotographyBLOG

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:

HDR Expose discount

As a reader of you will receive a discount on any Unified Color software.

Your coupon code “HDR360pro” will be applied automatically.

Feb 062012



HDR Expose 2

HDR Expose 2 »

Coupon code: “HDR360pro” saves 20% on HDR Expose 2!

Click image to enlarge.

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.



Save 20% on the new HDR Expose 2 by clicking the link below:

HDR Expose 2 »

Coupon code: “HDR360pro” saves 20% on HDR Expose 2.

Download the free trial now!

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

Please see the “HDR360pro” discounts page:

Unified Color »

Sep 042011

 Click HDR to enlarge

Capturing the full dynamic range is critical when making HDR images.

Take a look at this article from John Omvik of Unified Color to learn more about HDR capture:

John Omvik’s HDR Tip 2 – Capture The Whole Range

 Unified Color » 

Coupon Code: “HDR360pro”

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

Jun 222011

Terry Eggers’ Sophisticated HDR photos – and way more

Eggers Photography

Unified Color »

May 172011

Check out this article by Texas pro photographer, James Brandon:

HDR Express Improves a Single Image – another tip from James Brandon

Visit James Brandon Photography at the links below;

Blog: James Brandon | Destination Travel and Wedding Photographer | Dallas/Fort Worth

Portfolio site: Dallas Fort Worth Destination Wedding and Travel Photography | Keller Texas Wedding and Family Photography

Purchase HDR Express with your HDR360pro discount, or download a trial version: HDR Express »

Apr 302011

If you have an interest in creating HDR photos that have a natural look, you will want to read this excellent article by Dan Moughamian.

Peachpit: Creating High Dynamic Range Images in a Snap with HDR Express > Camera Setup and Image Evaluation

HDR Express »

Mar 252011


Mar 202011

Here’s a great HDR processing tip from James Brandon and the nice folks over at Unified Color.

By the way, you can get HDR Express with a discount by using the discount code: “HDR360pro”.

For details, see the navbar tab: Software Discounts/Unified Color/HDR Express.

HDR Tip – Need for a Good Black Point

Mar 082011

This tutorial is best seen at 720p and fullscreen. Check the “Software Discounts” page in the navbar for a free trial of HDR Express or download the free trial version. HDR Express is listed under “Unified Color”.

If you decide to purchase any Unified Color product through these HDR360pro links your HDR360pro discount will be applied automatically.



Feb 082011

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


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

Dec 072010

I am pleased to announce that readers of will receive a 20% discount on the fine Unified Color Technologies software products by applying the discount code HDR360PRO upon checkout.

Download trial versions of these innovative products at the Unified Color website today.

Click link:

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