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12 May, 2009

This way up

This is boringly techie, and largely a note to myself, but I've discovered that Photoshop CS4 (Extended) doesn't play as nicely with the Photomatix HDR utility as Photoshop 7 did.

I don't particularly like 'full-on' HDR images, but overlaying a processed HDR image onto a non-HDR source image at low opacity sometimes enhances the result without too much artificiality.

Self-evidently, this involves opening one image file as a layer within another, but Ps CS4 seems to be fussy about the stacking order of layers: if the base layer is the source image (i.e. loading a HDR file into a non-HDR file), the final output will contain the original camera EXIF metadata, but if the HDR layer is treated as the base, the final output will discard the EXIF.

Ps CS4 offers the convenience of automatically opening multiple images into the same file as layers, via the 'Load Into Stack' tool. The slight problem is that it doesn't seem so discriminating about stacking order....

I suppose the ultimate flaw is the failure of Photomatix to retain EXIF metadata – if all layers in a Ps file contained the metadata, it wouldn't matter which one was given priority when saving – but the net effect is that one needs to be careful about opening files in Ps CS4, perhaps even avoiding the 'Load Into Stack' tool.

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