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A hallmark of a mature application is the ability to refine its performance using preferences. And HDRsoft's Photomatix offers several to really benefit the power user. To open up your preferences just chose Preferences. Shortcuts usually Cmd or Ctrl comma. When you do this, there are three categories of preferences. I'll be bopping in and out of these to show you some of the differences. The first thing here is when you start to do a tone map or fusion, what do you want to see happen? I usually choose to use my previous defaults.
A lot of time when I'm working, I'm processing several images from a shoot, so generally speaking, it's often useful to use my last image as a starting point. If not, you could just start clean with the default settings. One thing that I really like, if you have adequate system performance, is the ability to see previews refresh as you drag the slider. So, for example, as I start to make changes here, saturation of the highlights, you'll note as I drag I can see the change in real time. As opposed to the default, which is drag and release.
So in this case, I want to pull down the saturation in that statue so it gets to be a nice pure ivory color. But I do want to bring the saturation in the shadows out a bit more. Well, it's nice to see that happen in real time, so I could really judge what's going on. Let's bring those preferences up again. When the image is done, I do like seeing the Finishing Touch window. We've been using this window on almost all of our images today, adding things like contrast and emphasizing individual colors to remove color cast.
You could turn that off if you want, but I prefer to leave it up. Note as well, things about how to handle noise reduction when using JPEG files. And a couple of other options if you're using floating windows. Although, I prefer the unified interface. The next category is files. Here you can automatically tell it what to do. For example, instead of it asking if I want to merge multiple images when I drag them onto the icon I could choose bypass and say don't ask for a dialog on what to do with the dragged files.
And then it's just going to immediately go into merging and asking me how do I want to process them? Or I could bypass all of that and go right to tone mapping. Now, I generally leave this unchecked because I want some better control of what happens when I bring my images in. But if you need to speed up your workflow and you always do the same type of workflow, you can turn that on. Generally speaking, if you're going to be working with JPEGs, leave this set to 100 for maximum quality JPEG files. And then decide if you are storing the intermediate 32-bit format what you want.
Dot HDR radiance file is the most common, but if you're working with visual effects, OpenEXR might be something that you choose, or perhaps a Floating Point TIFF for broad compatibility. Additionally, as you're creating the file. We've been having it concatonate the source file names. Which is just a fancy way of saying, combine them. In other words if I used three source images. Like you see here above, dsc_1526, 1527, and 1528. It creates a series name.
But you can simplify that and tell it to only take the name of the first file. Now, this is going to happen when you create the image. So it's not going to update the one that I currently have selected when I click OK, because this file has already been started. Speaking of files, a couple other options here. You could choose to append the suffix automatically, and this is going to add, essentially, the text of tone-mapped, or fused, so you know what's happening. Remember, Photomatic supports two types of tone mapping infusion.
Perhaps, though, you want that to just say underscore HDR, or something else for your particular workflow. You could change that. Alright, the last category is performance. This is where you really drive what's happening with the application. For example, I can choose to use all eight CPUs on this particular machine. The application does support multithreaded multiprocessing, which is fantastic, given that you're often working with some very large files. Doing some major math.
So the benefit here is that you can use all the power your machine has. Or if your computer is doing multiple tasks, you could lower this number to reserve some CPUs for other processes on your computer. Additionally, where do you want the temporary files to go? I often find it's a good idea to choose custom, and then choose a file path to something like a dedicated SSD drive for performance. If you're using some slower storage or network storage, you might want to target a local drive for the temporary files as the image is being processed.
Now my system default is in SSD, so I can go ahead and use that here. I'm working off of a laptop but even still if I had a dedicated drive I could target that. Lastly, you can have a prompt if the input images are very large. So for example if you're feeding in some large panoramic images to merge you've already stitched the panoramas together and then you're going to create an HDR panorama. This allows you to essentially set a threshold for the megapixel count. Then, as you're working, if the images are too large, Photomatics can intelligently drop to a preview mode and work at a lower resolution temporarily to speed up the processing on your machine.
And then switch over to the final images for the final post process. You'll find additional documentation on some of these technical features inside the user guide, but that's the essentials to the preferences. I recommend after you've used the app for a little bit you swing through and make a few adjustments. The preferences are fairly straightforward but they do refine how the application works and to make it much easier to name and store your processed photos.
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