I really seem to have taken a detour down the HDR hole. Especially the Photomatix tool which I absolutely do not fully understand yet. This is one of those times that I think I should open the online manual. I happened to have a number of night images from years back where I would do maybe one bracketed shot. I still haven’t actually gone out with a full understanding of what I’m doing… and I think that’s part of the enticement. Something new.
I could kick myself because when I first started shooting digital, I didn’t know the purpose of shooting raw, and I spent a few months doing some pretty tricky night stuff as jpgs. They can be salvaged – but nothing like what I can get from a two raw shots (see below): one underexposed by a stop and a half, and the other a bit over exposed. Besides the greater dynamic range (hence the name) – when you do Image Fusing you greatly cut down on the noise. But even if you weren’t doing HDR, the tonemapping feature gives an immense amount of control over the Tonal Mapping (yeah, that’s why they call it tonal mapping).
But there’s another tab, Tone Compressor, which I don’t understand at all. I understand what it does, but the preview in Tone Compressor doesn’t make sense to me (yet). Ah – learning again. I love it. Oh – and just to repeat — the Photomatix Lightroom plugin is excellent – well integrated with Lightroom.