HDR in Sagelight

On the discussion board, we’ve been having a discussion about HDR.  I’ve become very fond of the discussions on the board, because so many of them lead to making Sagelight better, and this is one of them. I’ve been working on adding plug-in support to Sagelight, and in the process I was working on some masking functions with Sagelight, too.

One of the traditional problems with HDR is halos.  It’s hard to avoid them, but you can do it with some patience.  In this case, though, I didn’t have to work to avoid them.  I’m really thinking about the ‘artificial’, artistic-level HDR here, since a “real” or authentic looking HDR wouldn’t really present itself as such — it would just look real.

But some HDR pictures are more artistic than others, and I think I’ll start looking for some good examples.

Here is an example of some of the HDR pictures (i.e. artificial and artistic HDR, from a single shot) that I was able to come up with by playing around with different aspects of the masking with Sagelight:

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower (original picture)

Eiffel Tower HDR-ized with Sagelight Masking Functions

As you can see, the light is much more balanced.  The picture now has a more artistic, surreal look, as the trees and sky now pop out at you.  This is more in the vein of the HDR pictures you see out there.  The nice thing is that it doesn’t have any halos.


P-38 (original picture)

P-38 HDRed by using Sagelight Masking Functions

p-38 Split version

In this picture, the halos in the highlights are basically not discernible, where you can see some halos in the shadows.   It’s fairly easy to get rid of shadow halos — much easier than highlight halos.  All in all, it looks pretty decent and doesn’t have those large halos you see many times with these HDR pictures.


As I mentioned on the discussion board, … well, here is the text from the discussion board:

Now that Sagelight supports filters, I’ve really come to like Topaz. It has some pretty interesting effects, and I came to know about it through postings on dpreview.com.

Rather than using some of the larger/gross effects (which are nice), I saw that people were doing interesting effects (such as HDR and other effects) and then using just a small ‘touch’ with Topaz. That’s what I did here. I used a very slight touch of the Simplify filter to make the HDR effect look just ever-so painting like. The differences are small technically, but I think it makes for an interesting picture.

Topaz is what convinced me to support plug-ins, because I saw that you could do higher-end things (such as HDR, for example), and then use plugins to modify those results. So, I realized that supporting plug-ins wasn’t making Sagelight just a vehicle for slockiness, but rather made it more powerful:

P-38 HDR version with a 'touch' of Topaz Simplify Filter


Now for an example that is meant to be more realistic, though it has an artificial quality to it:

Birds (Original Picture)

Birds after HDR treatment -- a little more realistic, but still artificial-looking

Even though Sagelight’s main focus is to enhance images in a powerful and (hopefully) easy manner, I’m more and more seeing what other things it’s capable of.  It has a pretty serious engine, and I’m finding that it can do many things after I think about them for a while, prodded by discussions with people who use Sagelight and are interested in other things.

The pictures above, for example, are part of a prototype for a flexible zone system I’ve been working on (but can be done in the current version of Sagelight, because the prototype is in there).  But, I could also think about an offshoot that has more specific functions oriented towards HDR effects, too.

A More Realistic HDR

An Addendum from the discussion board:

As I mentioned, the above examples were done in the artificial HDR style on purpose. Here is my take on the p-38 picture by using only various Sagelight functions and the UNDO brush.

P-38 HDR-ish picture using various Sagelight functions and the UNDO Brush

Of course, it’s more intensive since I used a brush rather than image-wide functions. Since I didn’t take too much time on it, you can see some of the halos and brush strokes.

But, overall, it looks much more realistic, and if I took some real time to work on it, then it would look much better. But, I guess part of the point is to do these things without having to labor on them… too much.

I’ll look forward to your comments!


3 thoughts on “HDR in Sagelight

  1. Hi Rob,

    Came across your software today, gave it a very quick trial ( play )and went straight to “buy now”.

    I was looking for an eraser tool that would work on some long grass interfering with some of my big cat photos taken on a recent African safari.

    No luck there but I was lucky to find your exceptional editor, had a very quick trial ( play ) then straight to your ” Buy Now ” button.

    I have Light Room 3 AND Elements 7 , which are excellent, ( even if they aren’t able to help me erase the grass from Leopards face)but WOW results from your software and the more direct approach is exciting.

    Can’t wait to get cracking with experimenting.
    Thanks for making my day.


    • Hi, Neil.

      Thanks alot for the comments (and the purchase). I really appreciate it. Yeh, I guess it would be be hard to get rid of the grass. If you’d be interested, I’d like to see the picture. Maybe I will get some ideas. They sound like nice pictures.

      Thanks again for the note.


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