The RAW Fireworks & a Photomatix 4.0 Preview

Two Weeks in Iceland!

Watch for me Live on This Iceland Webcam. I should be strolling in and out of those from time to time.

To the right, you can see some of my upcoming notes from the trip. I’ll be focused on the coasts with a concentration on the fjords in the northwest part of the country. We are getting close to 24 hours of daylight, so I think this will be an amazing time to go. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, feel free to let me know!

As you all know, Iceland is one of my favorite places in the world for photography. You can see the entire Iceland Photo Collection here — several pages there for you to enjoy!

Planning the trip to Iceland-1

Full Photomatix 4.0 Preview

I’ll be sure to post it when it is ready on the Photomatix Review page. Actually, even better than a preview, I will do a quick head-to-head with Adobe Photoshop CS5. It’s all pretty much complete… just want to get a few more metrics for you.

I would like to get it up this weekend… not sure – a lot of busy stuff lately!

Daily Photo – The RAW Fireworks (and yes, that is a handheld single shot)

So, I have in my hot little hands an Advance Copy of Photomatix Pro 4.0 (BTW, the TREYRATCLIFF Coupon Code will still save you the most money). Wow this thing is cool! I’m in the middle of a full review/preview. This isn’t really it… just a preview of a preview. I know… how lame of me, but I am so excited that I want to leak out a few details.

Today’s fireworks photo below from Disney World a few nights ago was just processed with Photomatix 4. This is from a single RAW photo. This was a handheld shot as I was walking along a pathway near the Crystal Palace. Amazing, eh?

Well, I can’t take all the credit – so much goes to Photomatix Pro. Here are a few points for you to chew on:

  • There is all new Noise Reduction code in there…  a fresh dialog appears when loading a RAW photo like this one.
  • If you already own Photomatix Pro 3 (or buy it now), the upgrade to Photomatix Pro 4.0 is FREE.  (cool!)
  • There is a new way to control ghosting… very nice.
  • So far in my testing, it’s way way way faster than Photoshop CS5’s new HDR feature.  But I am still testing with metrics… full results soon.


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  • Looks like you will be busy in Iceland and will need 30 hours of daylight to take it all in!!! LOL !!!

    Nice to see some decent noise reduction in Photomatix.I look forward to it’s release.

    Enjoy your two weeks!

  • Hey Trey!! The pic looks just awesome! I must ask, even if it’s a bit beyond the line, what settings do you aim for when making an hdr, or processing an image in Photomatix from a single RAW file. I recently went to a photo trip and I managed to work somethingout regarding the single exposure HDR, but i’d love your thoughts on that.

    Abrazos and enjoy Iceland!

  • Krzysztof

    Hey Trey ! Is photomatix 4.0 now available to purchase? I’m realy interested with it. Greetings from Poland !

  • Zippi

    Wow, this became instantly my favourite fireworks picture from you. I’m a sucker for these kinds of shots.

  • Look forward to seeing your shots from Iceland – Really excited to get my hands on a copy of Photomatix 4.0 and looking forward to your review. Love the fireworks – well framed and great color!

  • Patrick

    Astonishing Photo!
    Just the way a fireworks photo should be like.

    I am really looking forward to your preview of Photomatix 4.0.
    Especially the new noise reduction could be invaluable.
    Do you have any idea when Photomatix 4.0 will be available for the public?

    Also, I stumbled upon this HDR Software –
    do you have any opinion about it?
    They seem to claim (without really speaking it out) that they are able to get better results
    than Photomatix.
    Their Showcase looks good but that’s usually the case and does not help in judging the software.
    And since it is available for Windows only I cannot test it on my mac.

  • Cool trip your about to take! I’m leaving in 21 days to trek Iceland from Akureyri to Vik (passing just south-east of the hot zone) Can’t wait to see your amaising photos.
    Have a good one!

  • Unreal job Trey! I remember when I tried tonemapping single raw fireworks shots, the results were a horrible, noisy mess. On another note, how much time did you spend planning the Iceland trip? It looks like you spent hours working on that map.

  • Too bad we can not drag and share the image as before 🙁

    Great picture I can not wait to try out the new Photomatix!!

  • Very good capture of all those colorful fireworks and lighting!!! WTG, Trey.

  • THanks all!

    Deyson – yes that bit was having trouble with speed on the new server!

    Deron – I’ve spent quite a bit of time! I like to put together loose plans… maybe not as organized as it seems!

    Charles – I am jealous! 21 days!

    Patrick – yes – I try them all but I keep coming back to photomatix.

    Krzysztof and Chris – Photomatix 4 should be out soon – but if you get Photomatix 3 now, you will get the free upgrade soon.

    Mirko – I was thinking about putting together a little ebook on various ways to take fireworks shots… but, in short, just take them at as low as an ISO as possible. Usually I don’t recommend single handheld shot! But a big part of the equation is the new noise reduction in photomatix 4

  • Amazing shot!!! btw when is photomatix 4 coming out?

  • Wow, cool shot! I just bought Photomatix Pro 3, glad to hear the upgrade is free!

  • Mark

    Wow! What was the exposure and ISO of this shot? I would love to see the original RAW in a side-by-side.

  • pumped for photomatix 4.0 – I always believe it will be steps ahead of photoshop because Photomatix is fully focused on what they do.

    I would really love more information on planning your trip to iceland. I think that’s the single biggest barrier for me: I don’t know how to plan it. Do you see a travel agent, or someone else? How’d you go about planning that map out.

  • FABULOUS shot! I love Photomatix…. just bought it, of course! And I just read the upgrade is free! Woo Hoo!!! Thanks for all the inspiration you give!

  • THanks all.

    All — did you know if you want EXIF details on ISO, aperture, etc etc they are all avail to you? Just click in the photo and follow through to the Smugmug page where you can investigate. In this case, it was 1400 ISO

  • drdesigns

    Fantastic shot! Handheld? Single file? Please, please share camera settings with us. I bought Photomatix this Spring, looking forward to getting the upgrade. Thanks for sharing this photo with us!

  • Awesome shot Trey! Can’t wait to see what you bring back with you from Iceland; lets hope the second volcano remains quiet.

  • I am very interested to see how it stacks up vs CS5 looking forward to the comparison article.

  • Hi Trey

    Looking forward to see photos and notes from your trip in Iceland. I will be going there in three weeks, and will be there only for 4 days, so anything you post will help me to find the right places to go to 😉

    Have a good trip!

  • Great shot Trey. I cannot wait til 4.0. I think it is going to rock. I upgraded to CS5 for two (main) reasons, the HDR and the Content Aware…well, the HDR was a big bust in my opinion, so bring on Photomatix 4.0.

  • Matthew Santomarco

    Gosh, Trey. This is one of my favorite shots! Are those stars in the sky? An ebook for fireworks might be a good idea. I have got landscape/night HDR down pretty well but firwork shots are a whole other animal!

  • Only Photomatix4 Trey?
    No Noiseware etc?
    Amazing picture!
    Regards from Cape Town.

  • casusan

    Oh wow! This is just gorgeous – one of your best ever! This should be on the cover of a brochure!

  • THanks!

    Bruce – Yes – I still used Noiseware a bit at the end, but it had a much easier time… if you remember the noise from previous Photomatix, then you know it could do a lot to help the situation!

    Matthew – they look like stars don’t they?? But see, they are only on one side… they are falling sparkle-dust from the fireworks…. I was a bit afraid people would think I painted them in!

  • Sam

    I clicked through to smugmug, but don’t see how to view the details. All I see is an empty comments section. Do you have to login with a smugmug account first?

  • I love your firework shots. What kind of shutter speed do you use to captures the fireworks in this form?

    Thanks for ALL your photos and have fun in Iceland!

  • Jeff R.

    I’m leaving on Sunday for a week-long trip around the country with some buddies, followed by a few days on my own in Reykjavik. If you see another guy with a giant tripod (but Canon gear), it might be me.

    First time going to Iceland, so I’m really excited. Hoping to come back with some good photos and a belly full of rotten shark.

  • Patrick

    Bring on the fireworks ebook!

  • RogerT

    Awesome picture and processing. I can’t wait to read your review of PM 4!

  • Wow, great shot. Amazing that the meter can handle the lighting.

    @Sam – In order to get the EXIF from SmugMug you need to first close the picture that initially appears. Mouse over the picture on the right, click on the Info button, and tada! there is the info. For this pic, exposure time was 1/60, aperture f/2.8, ISO 1400, focal length 28mm, and exposure 0EV.

  • Isn’t competition grand? I was hoping hdrsoft would not sit on their success. I’ll be looking for your preview and the 4.0 announcement!

    Will they be updating the plugin versions at the same time?

  • I love it when my favorite companies (photomatix) get competition (HDR Pro). It always forces them to pump out something even better.

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  • Glad to hear the upgrade is free to 4.0 if you just bought Photomatix ’cause I just bought it last week! Can’t wait to see the next version.

  • Wow, amazing shot, Trey! Count me as being interested in a fireworks how-to ebook. Even ISO 1600 with a tripod, I have a tough time getting good fireworks shots. Is that AV mode or full manual? I suppose I’ll just click on the shot and look at the EXIF info after I write this. ^^ I normally shoot in AV, but my friends keep telling me that tricky situations (like fireworks) are only possible in manual mode.

    Awesome to hear Photomatix 4 is coming too. I’m a happy owner of version 3 and I use it daily. Like you, I’ve tried all the rest, including CS5, but I always go back to Photomatix. I never guessed version 4 was coming — I am super excited to pay with it!!

  • Amazing fireworks shot! Got to say, fireworks are one of the tough shots to take 🙂

  • Looking forward to your results. Will arrive in Iceland on Tuesday 🙂

  • Yay! I am looking forward to the latest release of Photomatix Pro!

    And that is an AWESOME single-exposure shot of the fireworks!

  • Trey:

    Going to see Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir while you’re in Iceland?

  • Lisa Bradley

    Love, love, love this shot!! Fireworks are so much fun to shoot–the e-book is a great idea, too!

  • Thanks all!

    Stephen – I dunno – no plans at the moment!

    Oliver – maybe I will see you kicking around!

  • Yeah maybe. Will be shooting along the ring road for a week..

  • Tom M.

    This has to be one of my favorites so far. WOW! I just want to eat it up. To think this was handheld is astounding. I just wonder if my D300s would handle this shot with as little noise, despite how Photomatix 4 helped.

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