True HDR takes some work; multiple images, proper processing, but many photo apps these days have an HDR option which creates a computer rendering of multiple photos. For Mac users who want a taste of HDR there’s Hydra.
Tasty HDR Pudding
They say ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating‘ to describe the need to try something rather than dismissing it out of hand. HDR works that way. You can’t judge a book by the cover, so some effort is required to make a determination of worthiness.
Hydra is not a camera app but a photo enhancement application, specifically designed to turn multiple photos with multiple exposures into a truly high-dynamic-range image. Taste, meet pudding.
Image enhancement controls are straightforward but precise with both numeric and slider bar options. Images can be adjusted with the new tone mapper, but it’s easy to start with a dozen presets. The split-screen comparison mode makes it easy to compare adjusted images to the original.
True HDR often has an issue with image alignment, but Hydra has both automatic and manual tomography computation options to ensure proper alignment. Hydra has been optimized to use Apple’s new Metal-based display and computation architecture with OpenGL as a fallback for older devices and OS versions.
Hydra handles standard Mac image formats, ranging from the more popular JPG to RAW but also formats such as OpenEXR. Files can be saved as JPG, TIFF, Radiance, OpenEXR, and various color spaces from sRGB to Adobe and others.
The real secret for me has been the tone mapper which comes with a variety of settings, from shadow boosting, highlight recover, range compression, and others, and each is able to placed or edit on specific regions of each image giving you more control over the HDR effect, regardless of image quality.
Frankly, there’s plenty going on and while the presets are useful to get started with HDR, it’s the settings that need to be mastered, so remember that trial and error is your friend. Hydra is available from the app developer and the Mac App Store and there’s a try-before-you-buy option.
Any problems with Hydra? Other than the need to get a handle on the learning curve so as to avoid the typical shiny HDR images you see everywhere else in the world, not much.