Tips on Using Qtpfsgui to Produce HDR Images

I currently use Qtpfsgui 1.9.3 to assemble my photographs into high dynamic range (HDR) images.  In this tool, I am currently using the Mantiuk algorithm.  I find Mantiuk has only a few knobs to turn and yields great results.

I’ve developed a nice workflow in using the Mantiuk algorithm.  I generally leave the contrast settings alone, crank up the saturation to around 1.8, and then vary the detail between 1.0 and 3.0 depending on the picture.

Recently, I’ve found a good use of the contrast adjustment of Mantiuk and want to share my findings.  The image below shows my initial adjustments using Mantiuk.

Initial adjustments using Mantiuk
Initial adjustments using Mantiuk

Notice how the light is stratified vertically below the clouds.  I found that turning up the contrast help alleviate this effect.  In the following image, I turned it up a good amount to highlight the difference.

With contrast setting increased
With contrast setting increased

HDR Tonemapping & Editing Software

So Ive been doing a lot of HDR photography in the past few days.  Ive used Photomatix, Picturenaut, and Qtpfsgui to do my tone mapping.  Ive also used Adobe Lightroom and Google Picassa do to my development.

Concerning HDR tonemapping, I currently find Qtpfsgui to be my tool of choice.  I started out using Picturenaut both the latest version and the beta version.  First of all, the latest release doesnt support outputting images as jpeg.  This is a huge bummer for me.  Second of all, I just cant get it to give me the look I want in my images.  This caused me to switch to Photomatix.  I like Photomatix.  Its easy to use and it gives me great images.  It was my tool of choice until I came along Qtpfsgui.  This tool gives me pictures with the look I want.  I generally use the image alignment stack, Profile 1, and Mantiuk algorithm for the tone mapping.  In the Mantiuk algorithm settings, I usually crank up the saturation. All in all, Ive had great success with this setup. You can see photos created using Qtpfsgui on Flickr by going to this url: http://www.flickr.com/groups/qtpfsgui/

Concerning development, I am sticking with Picassa for now.  Lightroom is really slick and nice but its 200 bucks.  Picassa gives me just enough knobs to turn that Im happy and its free!