Photomatix Review

Photomatix Full Version or Free Trial

If you end up buying, use the code, TREYRATCLIFF, at checkout for 15% off. You can also get a free trial to play around with, but I think you’ll decide quickly that it’s a must have. There are a few options at the website; personally, I use Photomatix Pro.

Great Photomatix Presets

Once you get into Photomatix, you may enjoy using my presets! They are not-so-cleverly-named Trey’s Photomatix Presets. I use these every time to give me a lookbook of many different variations on a photo. If you want to see some of my work that uses these techniques with Photomatix and whatnot, pop over to this portfolio.

Photomatix Pro 5 Review

I started using Photomatix many years ago, and it’s a big part of the free HDR Tutorial here on the site. HDR is an acronym for High Dynamic Range, and it basically lets you see all the range of color and light in the final photo that the human retina can see on the scene. Naturally, Photomatix allows you to create a “subtle” or “extreme” photo using these techniques, and that’s the fun part about it. You can use Photomatix to make your photos look totally unique!

Photomatix Pro 5 – Is it worth the upgrade and what’s new?

Yes, I think i is certainly worth the upgrade. Having the latest tools that are reasonably priced has always been important to me. There’s nothing wrong with the older versions, of course, but generally this kind of software in general tends to get better with time. There are hundreds of minor little changes that you will notice, but here are some of the bigger ones (at least, to me).

First, the new Tone Mapping method called Contrast Optimizer is really good at balancing realism and keeping that cool “HDR Look”. Everyone has their own balance, and this new way is much better at helping you find your own line of comfort.

Second, the Automatic deghosting is much better. I had hit-and-miss success before with de-ghosting, and now am consistently getting better results. It’s not always perfect of course if you have a massive amount of chaos, but it’s pretty dang good.

Third, the Real-Time slider Rocks!! If your computer is fast enough, be sure to pop into preferences to turn this on! In the “olden” days, you’d have to click and wait. Seeing what the slider actually does while you slide it is bizarrely satisfying!

Fourth, the auto-aligning is even better!

Fifth, there are a bunch of other little things that I have not had the occasion to use yet, but I am glad they are there. Things like the batching of photos and more options for creating a tonemapped image from a single RAW.

This is an aesthetic thing, but I much prefer the new “Unified Workspace” option on the Mac rather than having little windows floating all over the place. That always bothered me and made things feel clutter-y !

Photomatix in action

Here is a sample below of what the new interface looks like after I combined the these three images.

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Merging to HDR

Before you begin using all the fancy sliders and fun stuff above, the first step is making a few decisions. You can see the updated “Options” box below along with my most commonly checked items.

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Ghosting

If there is movement between the frames, then this is called ghosting. Photomatix has gotten much better in cleaning this up! If you did select the “Show options to remove ghosts,” then you are presented with another dialog. I often choose the “Automatic” one as you can see, but you can also manually draw a shape around the area that is ghosted.

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Real Estate

Here’s one of the latest Exposure Fusion options — Fusion/Real-Estate. I noticed it actually only works in that exact situation! A lot of people take photos of indoor situations with a very bright outside through a door or window. This is a pretty cool new feature for those sorts of shots.

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Presets

You can see a bunch of the default presets that come with Photomatix below.

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Finishing Touches

This is my new favorite dialog ! After you are done processing the photo, you can do a few final things to it. In this example, I’ve zoomed in pretty far to add some serious sharpening to this crazy mountain. Normally I don’t do it this much, but I was just showing how this feature works!

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Crazy results

I’m loving the new Photomatix 5. I remember trying to process this photo below with other versions of Photomatix, and I just could not get something like I wanted. Now it just seems like a much more smooth experience for getting the results I wanted. First, I’ll put up the original photos then one of the many versions that Photomatix can produce below.

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Video of Photomatix in action

Below is a video of an older version of Photomatix. Much of the functionality is still the same, so the new versions won’t act much different.

Sample Photomatix Photos

Below, I have put a few samples of my final photos where Photomatix was used!

 Moonrise Kingdom This is one of my favorite new pieces from this year! I just shot it a few days ago.It was shot waaaay after the sun went down in Big Sur, California. This is a crazy waterfall that pours off onto the beach. You can’t see it from the road, and it requires a short walk. I found it thanks to Stuck On Earth, although I am sure other locals have known about this semi-secret place forever! You can go here too… it’s not terribly difficult. It’s called “McWay Falls” and it’s beautiful any time of the day.Also, btw, I’d like to thank those of you that have been ordering more prints recently — I am honored! :) You can always click just below the photo to check sizes and prices to find something to fit your budget. Thanks again!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Bamboo Forest While exploring Kyoto, I eventually found my way to this fanciful bamboo forest.  There had been a light rain most of the morning and everything was quite lovely.  The rain does strange things as it moves its way through these sorts of trees.  I waited and waited, and that was nice too.  In the early afternoon, the rain stopped while the sun peeked through the top.  It shone down while the earlier rain misted down from the tops of the trees.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

-The Great Wall of China-Wow I was alone here. As I walked along this ancient, original stretch of the Great Wall, I felt the ghosts haunting the old towers and little enclaves.I finally found an extremely remote part that is far enough away from civilization to stay pure. The ruins of the wall in this area has been overgrown with vegetation. When you walk along the top, you have to snake your way between huge bushes and all sorts of trees. Stairs and parts of the walkways have crumbled away in the past thousand years. The old towers are slowly fragmenting as lichens and moss cover parts of the stone that are decaying away.This has only reminded me that the main tourist part of the Great Wall is a very tiny stretch that has been re-built in recent years… so it is all fake and kind of Disney-wall. I don’t think I like that…That day I walked from tower to tower, looking at the sinuous wall as it snakes over the mountains. It’s so huge that I won’t even begin to come up with analogies… but, speaking of snakes, a family here told me to watch out for them. I kept that in mind as I hiked back in the pure black of night. I had a little flashlight to keep me company, along with my music. I didn’t see any snakes, and I didn’t fall down, so all together it was a great day and night.

Inception: New York I took these photos in New York City before going to LA to prepare for Burning Man. I found this spot below in midtown during a walk from Bryant Park over to the Facebook HQ in NYC. If you check my Facebook page, you’ll see some photos that Luke shot of me while I was taking this shot. It’s the one when I was awkwardly up under my camera shooting almost straight up in the air! You know that position…- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Lijiang at Night This is the old town of Lijiang, China, where I spent the week with Tom Anderson (the MySpace guy).  I think I mentioned him before.  Anyway, we got to be friends over the past several months, and we ended up spending a week together here in the south of China.Tom had first been here many years ago when he was setting up the MySpace office in Beijing.  He had great memories, and he thought it would be great for a big return now that he is getting more into photography.  So, it was definitely a week full of non-stop photography action.One late night after the sun had set, we weaved through the old streets until we found this place.  Looking up, I knew it would be a wonderful place to take a photo, so I set up for this one.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Hong Kong from the Peak on a Summer's Night If you want to see how I made this (and how you can too!), visit my HDR Tutorial. I hope it gives you some new tricks!I had a long day waking up at 5 AM to take a series of subways and trains up to Shenzen for some meetings. I had a Chinese VISA, which you don't need to get into Hong Kong, but I had to use to cross the official Chinese border after getting off the train. I didn't realize that it was a one-time use VISA, and I had to go to Shanghai the next day. This caused a lot of problems with the Chinese officials, a body of government with which I do not enjoy causing problems.Anyway, after I got back to Hong Kong after a day in Shenzen, I was hot and sweaty and in the sort of meeting clothes that aren't great for being hot and sweaty in. But, everything about Hong Kong was still awesome and I had too look hard for things to complain about. The sun was setting, and I made it up to The Peak just in time for a shot.This was a 5-exposure HDR shot at 100 ISO, and, of course, a sturdy tripod to get all the lights as steady as possible.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Secret Workshop of Jules Verne This is perhaps my favorite find on my most recent trip to Europe.  How can a place so wonderful exist in our world?  It's amazing.I got a recommendation from a close friend that told me I would love this place.  And he was right!  As usual, to see the full-size image, click Original in the menu that appears when you hover over the image in SmugMug.This is the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle and is one of the least-known places in Paris.  Everyone goes for the hot tourist spots, and this museum sounds rather boring, yes?  But as you can see... au contraire!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Treetop Temple Protects Kyoto I'm just finishing up almost two weeks in Japan, and it has been an amazing trip! Usually I try not to start posting shots until the trip is at its close, and this is the first.While there, I spent time all over the country. I got a rail pass and just jumped on the bullet train to take me from one remote spot to another. I ended up with a few days in Tokyo to do my best to capture the city. I'll be posting photos from the trip throughout the next few weeks, months, and years, as usual. I hope this is a new line of photographs that will be interesting to you.Photographed here is the Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto. The city is known for its traditional Japanese architecture, slower-paced life, natural beauty, graceful geishas, and zen peacefulness. I probably could have stayed in Kyoto capturing scenes the entire trip. I remained here until the sky turned black, and then I headed back down some winding streets to find an old small restaurant where the food was mysterious and every course was served with a gentle bow.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Impossible Mountains  The mountain is very spiky and narrow, and it’s embedded in a very rough patch of peaks.So I did my best to capture it in context. There are great super-hairy horses everywhere, and four of them were playing on one side of the river. I set up… and waited…waited…waited…. for them to get in the right spot and then finally took a photo.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

The Long Road to New Zealand This is one of countless beautiful roads that crisscross New Zealand.  I'm afraid I've forgotten exactly where I was when I took this photo!   I know that is very lame, but I bet people around here can help me pinpoint the area.As far as the camera settings, this is the kind of shot you can get with something called "compression," a method where you use a zoom lens and zoom in quite far.  It takes images in the distance and makes them larger than life.- Trey RatcliffRead more here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Central Park in the Fall I had spent the afternoon alone while traveling (as usual, it seems) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the middle of New York City. It sits on the Eastern edge of Central Park.  It was a little cold outside, but I decided to walk across the park anyway, just as the sun was setting.  As I moved through the trees, I found this little place and thought it would be fun to share.- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

Approaching Mount Fuji from the Old Village What a perfect place this is!I’ve been to Japan many times, but I never had the chance to visit Mt. Fuji! This time, Tom and I made a point to do it, and this was one of our fist stops. You can see much more about it in the video above!- Trey RatcliffClick here to read the rest of this post at the Stuck in Customs blog.

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