Update 29 Jan 2012: For an updated review of Machinery HDR Effects follow this link to my HDR Blog
Over the last week two weeks I have been trying out a new piece of software for HDR processing. According to the developers…
MACHINERY is software, which implements HDR technology. You don’t need to be a specialist to achieve in a simple way wonderful effects even from a single picture in JPG format. Simplification of the interface and limitation of options makes MACHINERY easy to use. Ready sets of settings give the chance of achieving the effect with just one click of a mouse!
So does Machinery live up to this statement. I certainly think so and I must admit I had fun giving it a go. Here’s an image I took on the beach at Talacre, North Wales. It was taken late in the afternoon with the sun just setting
Normally, for my HDR Photography I create a bracket of 5 images with different exposures ranging from -2 through to + 2 which I will process with my favourite HDR Software. However, it’s not always possible to create that bracketed set due to such things as moving objects i.e. people, or it’s getting dark and I don’t have my tripod. In instances like that I normally shoot one and hope that one of my HDR programs will give me the look I want, which generally is a nice natural look. Not too over saturated, and good detail in the shadows and highlights.
Here’s what I managed to achieve with Machinery 2
I think you will agree that this is much better. It’s not over saturated and in general you can see the detail in all of the image.
How did I achieve this. I think I should show you how easy it was to get this look with the aid of screenshots I took with Ashampoo Snap 5
There really is not a lot to do here. Machinery 2 does everything. Yes you can change the brightness or mess with the White Balance but for this image I let Machinery 2 make all of the decisions. Once the HDR image has been created the next step is to process it using the various settings in the Processing Module
Working with my image I only used 4 of the tabs in the Processing Module, these were
Clicking on the down arrow exposes more of the steps for processing, for instance here’s the Highlight/Shadows module
For this image I used the Highlight/Shadow module to give a slight increase in overall brightness but it was in the Details Module that I did the most adjustments. You can either choose one of the preset settings by clicking on one of the preset buttons. Each one of these increases the level of detail. Personally I found the second button from the left hand side gives enough without being too over the top. If you increase the detail too much use the far left hand button to set everything back to neutral.
If you don’t like the pre-sets you can adjust the sliders as seen in the image below.
Next I wanted to increase the saturation. There are two ways to do this. You can either increase the overall saturation as can be seen in this image
Or, you can choose to increase the saturation of individual colours
Using the eye-dropper tool I can select a colour (circled in the image). This will be shown on the colour chart (highlighted with the arrow). By moving the point on the line to the left or right I can decrease or increase the saturation. Look at the image below. You can see that by moving the point to the right the saturation of the red colour has increased compared to the image above.
I could spend a lot of time talking about adjustments but you would soon get bored and this blog post would become far too long. However I would like to mention the presets which the developers at Machinery 2 mention in their product statement.
I counted 36 presets that could be used on this image and you get easy access to them by means of a tabbed button at the top of the interface. Now obviously I can’t show you all 36 but the image below will give you an idea of what to expect as it shows a selection of some of the possible presets
Once you select a preset you can either keep it as it is. This is the Warehouse preset.
Or, you can use the pre-set as the basis for a “certain look”, then use the Processing Module to make final adjustments.
Machinery 2 is a Windows-based program and supports 64 bit processing. You can download a trial from here . You can also see examples of what can be created from the Machinery 2 gallery. There’s also a comprehensive tutorial giving examples of how to use Machinery 2.
Personally, I found Machinery 2 extremely easy to use not only for HDR processing but also just for RAW developing. It gave me far better control of my RAW images than I would have thought possible from a piece of software dedicated to HDR Processing. Give it a try, you might find you like it, I know I did.
Disclaimer: I am not connected in any way to the developers of Machinery 2. My review of Machinery 2 is based solely on use of the trial software over the last two weeks.
HOWEVER SINCE WRITING THIS REVIEW I HAVE BEEN GIVEN A FREE COPY OF MACHINERY HDR EFFECTS BY THE DEVELOPER
To see more examples of Machinery HDR Effects in use head on over to my new blog HDR Images by Mike Hardisty