Out To The Ballpark…With Oloneo PhotoEngine 1 Beta
Friday night I took my family out to dinner and a ballgame to see our local “farm team” the Dayton Dragons. I brought my photo gear along, and got some great photos during the evening. I decided to experiment with processing them using the recently announced and released Oloneo PhotoEngine 1 Beta. PE Beta 1 is a tool for doing “HDR” photo editing – high dynamic resolution. Historically, I’ve been slow to jump on the HDR bandwagon, as I’m not a fan of the “grungy” and over-processed look a lot of HDR images have. However, when I’ve seen HDR techniques applied in a more “natural” modest dose, I’ve grown to really appreciate it. Particularly when software editing tools allow you to apply HDR techniques to a single image (such as Photoshop CS5 HDR Tone Mapping capability).
Overall I was extremely impressed – from a software development standpoint, this sure didn’t feel like an early beta to me. PE Beta 1 is very fast, stable, and polished. It’s also extremely easy to use – Oloneo has plenty of tutorial videos for using PE Beta 1’s features, but I found it intuitive enough to jump right into. I didn’t play with PE Beta 1’s ReLight or DeNoise capabilities as these require multiple exposures of the same image. Instead, I played with PE Beta 1’s ToneMap capabilities with single images. PE Beta 1 encourages a top-to-bottom workflow, with the first drop-down choice being the type of tone mapping do you wish to apply I found the “Advanced Local Tone Mapper” to the most powerful and most useful. PE Beta 1 lets you apply as much or as little tone mapping processing as you want – the slider controls make it super-easy to make adjustments.
While PE Beta 1 is perfectly usable as a stand-alone product, I found it ideal to use it in conjunction with Photoshop CS5 – I opened my RAW images in CS5’s RAW editor, cropped, then saved the image as a TIFF file. I then opened PE Beta 1 and played with the various controls, again saving the file as a TIFF when finished. I then jumped back into CS5 and did some final tweaking of the photo. In my opinion, PE Beta 1 promotes a much more natural look to HDR images than say Photomatrix. It’s also considerably easier to use than the HDR Tone Mapping feature of CS5. Here’s my sample gallery of images processing with Oloneo PhotoEngine Beta1 – just click on the photos to see a larger view:
These first two photos (taken with my 5D Mark II and my 24-105 f4.0L) are of the entrance to Fifth-Third Field – home of the Dayton Dragons. The goal for these two images was to simply enhance the photos, but have them still look quite natural:
These photos of the pitcher and batter (taken with my Canon 7D and my 70-200 f2.8L IS) have a bit stronger tone mapping applied, but again, still look quite natural.
I applied an even higher level of tone mapping, detail enhancement, and contrast to this photo. But I still don’t think it appears to be heavy-handed or “over processed” do you?
After we left the game (I ran a couple of blocks over to Dayton’s Riverscape area to catch the sunset. Both of these photos exhibit strong amounts of tone mapping and added color saturation. But I think both came out well and have an “artistic” look.
I haven’t yet seen any pricing information for PhotoEngine’s final release (Beta 1 is free to use until October) but unless it’s an exorbitant asking price, I can’t image I won’t want to pick it up. I may have to experiment with bracketed exposure settings and check out some of the other features. If you’re a fan of HDR imaging, I think it will be an absolute no-brainer for you.
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.