Review: Unified Color HDR Expose
By Stan Sholik
Photographers actively involved in high dynamic range (HDR) imaging often use different HDR programs for different images since each program has its own algorithm for tone mapping the multiple exposures into an image. Many of these programs are complex and non-intuitive and don’t accurately portray the final image until processing is complete.
HDR PhotoStudio from Unified Color Technologies, LLC, was different, offering a more intuitive and user-friendly approach. Unified Color has replaced that program with a much-improved one, HDR Expose, which is suitable for HDR beginners and advanced users alike.
The user interface in Expose has undergone major revisions from the PhotoStudio version, and all for the better. It now boasts the visual styling of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Apple Aperture and other imaging programs, although the keyboard shortcuts are generally different. HDR Expose allows the export of source images from Lightroom and Aperture directly to the program. And when you have completed your HDR composite, Expose exports the image back to whichever program you used to send them for processing.
But the biggest change and the greatest improvement lies in the addition of a Brightness Histogram at the top of the Tool Panel. The Brightness Histogram displays not only the tonal distribution of the entire 32-bit image, but also, with a lighter toned gray region, the section of the curve that will display in the final image.
This is the final result of combining five exposures in HDR Expose and going for a “natural” look. The exposures were bracketed one stop apart. No exposure even came close to having the balance of foreground and sky exposure that is present in this final image. ©Stan Sholik