HDRtist Pro 1.0.2 for Mac OS X HDR Photo Software – ‘Book Mystique Review

I haven’t had this much fun testing a software application for review since, well, maybe the last time I reviewed an Ohanaware graphics program – their appropriately-named Funtastic Photos, a while back. The Ohanaware developers seem to have a knack for writing software that’s pleasant and entertaining to work and play with as well as useful.

Ohanaware’s recently-released HDRtist Pro 1.0.2 for Mac OS X is a more advanced version of their free HDR software, HDRtist, adding more power and features for working with HDR images, but retaining its easy-to-use identity.

“What are HDR images?” you might be asking. Well, In image processing, computer graphics, and photography, high dynamic range imaging (or HDR) refers to a set of techniques that allow a greater dynamic range of luminance between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than current standard digital imaging techniques or photographic methods can produce, thereby overcoming the light limitations of today’s digital cameras. This wide dynamic range allows HDR images to more accurately represent the range of intensity levels found in real scenes, ranging from direct sunlight to faint starlight. (thank you Wikipedia!).

HDR photographs are generally created by capturing multiple standard photographs, preferably on a tripod, using exposure bracketing, and then merging them into a single HDR image. However, one of ‘s excellent abilities is to create HDR effects using a single photograph, thereby rendering what is referred to as pseudo HDR or faux HDR effects. and also to merge and align multiple shots of the same image taken handheld without a tripod before HDR processing.

HDRtist Pro can create and edit HDR or Exposure Blended images, and being a Mac-only application, utilizes the Apple ImageIO Kit to read RAW images. The OS X Core Engine processes HDR images using 128-bit floating point data (16,843,009 times more precise than a JPEG, or so they say) into artistic special effects or super-realistic enhanced photos.

In my estimation, possibly the coolest thing about HDRtist Pro is its ability to make something special out of unexceptional photos. For example, here’s a shot of an Serviceberry (AKA Indian Pear, Saskatoon Berry, Juneberry) tree in front of my next-door-neighbor’s house in full spring blossom. It’s a nice enough picture, but nothing to get up in the night and write home about.

Now, lets apply some HDR magic, selecting a one-click HDR (or in this instance pseudo-HDR since it’s from a single JPEG document) from HDRTist Pro’s 1-Click Styles palette.

When you drag a photo or photos into a new HDRTist document window, the program creates a palette of alternate HDR styles that you can apply to your photo with a single click. Here’s the Serviceberry tree pic with the “Warm Magic” style applied.

And here’s the “Bright Detail” style.

If the one-click style result isn’t quite to your liking, or you prefer to manipulate the photo yourself an Adjustments pane in the Inspector palette lets you adjust various effects and values with HDRTist Pro’s live interface allowing you to monitor changes in real time as the options are adjusted.

HDRTist Pro can also give new life to older photos. Here’s a more than 35 year old shot of my old MGB in the garden.

And here it is with the “Bright & Colorful” style applied. It even almost disguises the missing chrome strip on the right rear fender!

A rose on the garden trellis straight up from the camera.

And a bit of HDR applied makes it pop.

Even shots that I’m especially fond of in their unenhanced state can take on new and different personas using HDRTist Pro. Here’s one I took several years ago of Quebec City’s Chateau Frontenac at night.

And here it is with HDRTist Pro’s “Old Time Detail,” and “Realism Detail” styles applied respectively.

And a wide-angle shot of the Chateau from another aspect.

HDRTist Pro’s “Like a Painting” worked for me with this one.

I expect that you’re getting the idea. These samples actually barely scratch the proverbial surface of what HDRTist Pro can do. It’s immensely entertaining to just cruise through one’s image collection experimenting with the many possibilities. HDRTist Pro can fetch images directly from from iPhoto or Aperture, and there’s also an option that’ll save editable HDR image file into your favorite photo organizer. You can also save your HDRTist creations in a variety of popular image formats.

HDRTIst is a specialized tool and not a general purpose image editor. Some of its limitations are that any necessary or desired cropping must be done in another program like Ohanaware’s Funtastic Photos, and only the entire photo can be edited. The program basically does what it does, and does it very well too.

I found it gratifyingly quick in executing most tasks on my not especially powerful 2.0 GHz MacBook with 4 GB of RAM. Especially demanding tasks like unifying multiple exposures can take a bit of time, and will benefit from more powerful hardware.

The program has been stable in my usage with no misbehavior.

New in version 1.0.2:
• InstallEasy has been improved for Snow Leopard users.
• Fixed two display issues that some customers were having. ]
• Added support for 16-Bit Photoshop files.
• Fixed a bug with dragging in HDRP files.
• The save dialog now respects the last selected format’s extension on re-open.

HDRtist Pro 1.0.2 is a free update for all registered customers. For new customers HDRtist Pro is $29.99 (USD) / 19.99 (GBP).

Existing customers can use the “Software Update” or “Check for Update” function from the HDRtist Pro menu within HDRtist Pro to update, or simply download the new version from the Ohanaware website. A free unlimited 14-Day trial can also be downloaded from the Ohanaware website. HDRtist Pro can be purchased from the Ohanaware website and Apple’s Mac App Store.

System requirements:
• Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) or 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
• Intel Processor
• 1 GB of RAM
• A 256mb graphics card is recommended for hardware acceleration.
• 200mb of Hard Disk space.
• 1024 x 768 or larger display

For more information, visit:
http://www.ohanaware.com

Product info:
http://www.ohanaware.com/hdrtistpro/

Direct Download:
http://www.ohanaware.com/hdrtistpro/HDRtistPro.zip

Apple App Store:
HDRtist Pro – Ohanaware Co., Ltd

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