Lightroom 2 and Photomatix Pro Workflow

I spent last Friday afternoon at the Monument Hill Historical Site near La Grange, TX. The weather was excellent for hiking but not so great for photography due to the extremely bright sun and thin hazy clouds. The remains of the old stone brewery was my subject of the day and the dynamic range of this setting far exceeded the ability of my Canon 40D’s meter to capture. So I decided to bracket my exposures by 1-1/2 EV and process them as HDR images using Photomatix Pro and Lightroom 2.

Under Exposed 1-1/2 EVExposed NormallyOver Exposed 1-1/2 EV

Once these images were imported into Lightroom, I selected all three and exported them into Photomatix Pro 3.1 (beta) using the File / Plug-in Extras / Export to Photomatix Pro menu command in Lightoom. This opened Photomatix Pro where I merged the files and then tone-mapped the result. Once I had the HDR image looking halfway decent I saved it as a 16-bit TIFF into the folder where the RAW files originally came from. My final step was to select the Library / Synchronize Folder menu command in Lightroom and import the tone-mapped image into my collection for final processing.

I need to give credit where credit is due. I’m just getting started with HDR and Lightroom, having been an Aperture user for quite some time. The workflow ideas I stole directly from Matt Kloskowski’s HDR and Lightroom Video and the inspiration for adopting high dynamic range processing came from Jeff Revell’s outstanding HDR Images on his PhotoWalkPro blog. Thanks for making this available to everyone. You guys rock (as my kids say)!

Stone Arch and Stairwell

Stone Arch and Stairwell
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, 17-40mm f/4 L at 35mm, f/22, 1/90th, 1/30th and 1/10th seconds at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. Post processed using Photomatix Pro and Lightroom 2’s Develop module. Click on the image above for a larger version.

My goal was to create an image of the stone arch and stairwell that showed as much detail as possible while remaining realistic looking. I also wanted to develop an HDR workflow that was consistent with my current Lightroom 2 / Photoshop CS3 workflow. I still need to iron out a few kinks in this, but it looks as if the new Photomatix Pro 3.1 (beta) and it’s Lightroom 2 Plug-In are just the answer I was looking for.

What do you think?

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