Talking To Myself About Exposure Fusion

HDR photography is huge but what is Exposure Fusion that I have been hearing about?

HDR photography is a popular way of combining multiple exposures to get a wider range of tones in an image than a camera can capture in a single shot. Usually you create a HDR image using a between 3-5 exposures. Using some complex maths, programs like Photoshop, Photomatix and HDR Efex combine these images to create a HDR image.

Yeh I know that.


An example of Exposure Fusion Image, +/-2 stops and base exposure.

Doesn’t HDR Create a perfect exposure when widening the dynamic range?

Widening dynamic range does not create a perfect exposure, it allows you to gain details in tonal areas that could not be recorded. Exposure fusion calculates which exposures should be used for certain areas of an image and uses the information to create a new image.

Exposure fusion must be new and the beginning of a new trend.

Exposure fusion has been around longer than HDR and is possibly more widely practised than people realise. Before programs were created these images, photographers would create exposure fusion images by hand. Using different exposures and blending them together. For example when editing a landscape; using the darker sky from the under exposed shot, the correct exposure for the foreground and the over exposed shot for small details and blending all three together.

Why do people do it by hand instead of using software?

Lots of people did and do it by hand because for them it is part of the artistic process, it can also be that software doesn’t create the image they want and by having a little bit more control they can get the image they want


An example of A HDR image, +/-2 stops,

HDR and Exposure Fusion are the same and different?

They are the same in the sense that when shooting you need to go through the same set up, using a tripod, bracketing exposures etc. They are different when it comes to post processing.

Really exposure fusion is a HDR image, you can create them in Photomatix.

Exposure fusion is not HDR and it is a common is conception that it is possibly due to Photomatix being a popular HDR software package and you can also create Exposure Fusion images with it as well.

OK! Not a HDR image. What type of photographer would use this technique?

 I know that a lot of real estate photographers use this technique to get nice clean images of buildings as well as rooms where you can see the view from the window, to allow someone browsing to get a real feel for what the house/apartment is like. Also this is a good technique for landscape photographers, as it allows them to capture more light detail but without creating “unrealistic” images, this is especially true when a photographer processes an image manually.

What is better HDR or Exposure Fusion?


Example of a HDR image, +/-2 stops

Both have their strengths and weaknesses and it really depends on the scene and the image you want at the end, no one is better than another. In the example above and below, I feel that the interior HDR shot works better than the Exposure Fusion image because the HDR effect creates a more aesthetic grittiness feeling I took away from this train station. Though with the street shots about I feel that the Exposure fusion image has worked better.


Example of a Exposure Fusion Image, +/-2stop

I bet the software is expensive to create Exposure Fusion images.

 There are a few programs that you can use to create this type of image.

  • Enfuse – Enfuse merges different exposures of the same scene to produce an image that looks much like a tone-mapped image. Standalone command line tool, open-source, Windows, OSX, Linux compatible.
  • LR/Enfuse – Plugin for Lightroom that uses Enfuse, Windows, OSX compatible.
  • Hugin – Integrates Enfuse fully, Windows, OS X, Linux compatible.
  • Photomatix Pro – Standalone or as a plugin for Lightroom, Aperture or Photoshop, Commercial, Windows and OSX compatible.
  • PTGui – Originally designed for creating panoramas but you can make it work for fusion, Windows and OSX compatible.
  • EnfuseGUI – EnfuseGUI is a front-end for Enfuse, making the process of blending your images easier, Windows and OSX compatible.
  • EnBlend – Enblend blends away the seams in a panoramic image mosaic using a multi-resolution spline. Command line utility, Windows.
  • Braketeer – Graphical front end for Enfuse, commercial, OSX compatible.

I think I might head off and experiment.

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