Why I Wrote… HDR Vivid Photo




HDR Vivid Photo is a very useful function to bring out some great definition and color in your image.  In one of the last Sagelight releases, a number of HDR functions appeared. I only intended to put in two main HDR functions, the HDR itself and the CLAHE.  This rapidly extended into a number of functions, such as the HDR Details, HDR Fill Light, Retinex, as well as Vivid Photo.

Some of the HDR functions, such as Vivid Photo, are more niche HDR functions, working better on certain types of images than others, and were put into Sagelight because they had a clear value for the images that can benefit from them.

Because Sagelight has a lot of functions, sometimes the value of one function for certain images isn’t completely obvious unless you try it on a number of pictures and see for yourself which types of pictures tend to benefit.   For example, the Pro Curves offer a very powerful set of functions if you know how to use them, but are not always for everyone or for every image.

With the recent Sagelight Noise Reduction release, this is a good time to talk about things like Vivid Photo in the HDR section of Sagelight, since the Noise Reduction in Sagelight adds even more power to many functions within Sagelight, including the Vivid Photo.


Vivid Photo

Always useful, Vivid Photo has been one of the HDR functions in Sagelight since the HDR release.   HDR can have a powerful effect on an image, and Vivid Photo definitely is not an exception.

Vivid Photo does just that with your image. It can bring out the details and vivid nature of your image.  The example above is a before-and-after example of the Vivid Photo.   One addition has been made to the example (see below), and this is the use of the Noise Reduction in Sagelight to help out the HDR process. 

Images That Work Well with Vivid Photo

Many functions with Sagelight are general functions that work with just about any image, such as contrast, brightness, saturation and a number of other controls.  

Functions like the HDR Vivid Photo function are tailored around specific types of images. 

You can use the default settings or use the controls in the Vivid Photo function to add color, contrast, highlights, and other elements to your image.  When writing the HDR functions, I saw the value for adding such a ‘vivid’ nature to pictures, and added it to the overall set of HDR functions.

HDR Vivid Photo is best used with portraits, closeups, and images with lots of sharp details.  It’s always useful to try it on any image just to see what happens, and after while, it’s easy to see which pictures will work better vs. others.

HDR Noise and Sagelight Noise Reduction

Vivid Photo has a number of options, but at is base, it uses an HDR function to create its image.  This can bring out details.  In the past, you could use any number of Sagelight functions — such as the Soft Glow or Skin Smoother – and now, the new Sagelight Noise Reduction turns out to be a perfect companion here. 

An Example

Here is an example, from start to finish. 

Here is the original image:


The above is the original before & after of Vivid Photo.  Even at 50% of the original size, you can see the details coming out that have now been highlighted through the HDR.   


With many pictures, bringing out the details would be a great additive.  With portaits such as this one, bringing out the details works well, and it is often useful to diminish just some of the details, especially in areas like skin.  In the closeup above, the details of the skin are visible, and it might be nice to smooth them out a little bit.


Here is the same image after a noise-reduction pass to clean up the details.  Only a small amount of noise reduction was performed on this image, which helps smooth the little details without changing the nature of the image. A little softness was purposely added. After this, another NR pass was used (through the NL Wavelet noise reduction) to make the skin even more smooth without hurting the details.


Here is the finished result.  While not very different from the original HDR Vivid Photo result, the noise-reduction pass makes all the difference (see the larger image link below).   In total, only the Vivid Photo and the Sagelight NR functions were used.   The main difference (color, light, brightness) is due to the Vivid Photo, and the Sagelight Noise Reduction simply helped to smooth down the skin details without touching the overall details the Vivid photo brought out of the image. 

click here for a larger image

Another example of Sagelight HDR Vivid Photo


This is another example of using the HDR Vivid Photo.  While the previous example image used the default settings, the Color, Highlights, and other Vivid Photo controls were used to help this image along.  This image shows how the HDR helped bring out the details — notice the detail on the fabric and the cat’s whiskers and face, as well as the wood grain.  A light NR pass was used to subdue some of the overall edges (such as the background), but without hurting the details brought out by the Vivid Photo. 

The Vivid Photo function has Photo, Normal, and HDR+ options, each option offering a different level of HDR on your image, as well as using a number of algorithms developed for HR images.  With these options, you can create results that vary from completely photo-realistic (Photo Setting) to more detail-oriented, edgy/HDR-like images (HDR+ Setting)


Sagelight HDR Vivid Photo can be a great tool for many images.  A minor member of the HDR set of tools, it is certain powerful and very useful.  Vivid Photo tends to work better with portraits, but can often be useful for many other images, such as closeups or detail-oriented pictures.  Like many of the niche tools in Sagelight (i.e. HDR Black and White, or Retinex), the HDR Vivid Photo is always worth a try for what it can often do for an image. 

The Vivid Photo function has many options, with different HDR settings, depending on what you want for your image, from a more natural result to an image that focuses more on HDR definition.

Combined with the Sagelight Noise Reduction, the Vivid Photo HDR is even more useful than before, and worth trying with your image.

4 thoughts on “Why I Wrote… HDR Vivid Photo

  1. Pingback: News of LightZone and Sagelight | A Long Way from Callahan County

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