Chicago Through the Vortex

I have been wanting to get to this location at Adams Sangamon Park since this was installed. When I got there, I couldn’t come up with anything different. So I pulled out the fisheye to see what that may look like.


This is part two of a five part series. Find the start of the series and the rest of the posts here.


Fixing the Most Common HDR Mistake Part 2: HDR Software


The biggest mistake that people make processing HDR images is that they do not add enough contrast. One way to fix this is by manipulating the image in your HDR software. I use Photomatix and HDR Efex Pro2, so I will share what I do with these two software packages.

For Photomatix, you want to decrease the gamma slider. This will add contrast right in the HDR software as part of the tone mapping process. It took me a long time to realize that this was the magic slider for Photomatix. I disliked the look of my Photomatix images until I figured this out.

For HDR Efex Pro, you can simply add contrast with the contrast slider. You can also drag the black levels down or do a curves adjustment.

No matter which software you use, the goal is to make sure that your blacks are black. Make the darkest parts of your image pure black to give your image the best chance of standing out. You will want to watch the detail in the shadows when you do this. You will need to make a judgement call as to how much contrast you add. It may be just as important to keep lots of detail in the shadows.

When I first learned HDR, these were the methods that I used every time. In the past year though I’ve been producing my HDR shots by creating an intentionally flat image using HDR software and adding contrast in Photoshop or Lightroom. That will be the topic for part three tomorrow.

How do you make sure that there is enough contrast in your images? How do you think I did in today’s image? Enough? Too much? Let me know your opinion.


Ratul Maiti, made a comment on yesterday’s post that raised a good question. How do you deal with the noise in these images? Follow the discussion and add your thoughts, in that post.