Machinery HDR Effects 2

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

  • Highlights/Shadows
  • Details
  • Colors
  • Sharpening

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.


To see more examples of Machinery HDR Effects in use head on over to my new blog HDR Images by Mike Hardisty



  1. Hi Mike

    I wished you had said in the original post that the Lighthouse was “wonky” Lol I think though, my choice..No1 was right as the sky looked really good on that one. I think the majority chose that one too.

    This is a really nice insight to this HDR prog. Well told in your storyline. Great stuff.

    Cheers Mike.


  2. The one thing I forgot to mention is that you can produce regular HDR images with bracketed sets. I have put brackets of 5 exposures through Machinery 2 with excellent results


  3. Is Machinery 2 only usefull for RAW? Or can I use it also for normal 6mb jpeg pictures? Is it worth the money if I dont shoot RAW but still want the HDR look?


    • Funny you should mention that Robert. I’ve been trying out some Machinery on the few jpegs that I have and getting reasonable results. You can always download the trial and see if you like it or not. The trial limits the maximum size of any image to 1280 pixels on the longest side and you can only save in JPEG but other than that it appears to be fully functional.

      I’m going to attach two images but I’m not sure if they show in comments, first time I’ve tried this. If not I’ll put them onto Flickr and send you a link. Just to show what happens with a JPEG I’ll show the original and then the same image after it’s been through Machinery 2. It’s a quick attempt so I’m not being subtle, just setting the sliders to show the effect

      Before Machinery 2

      After Machinery 2



  4. Thanks for showing the pictures. I’ll try the trial first. I do have photoshop elements 10. But I dont know how to get the same results. Do you know any good hdr tutorials for pse10?


    • Sorry Robert, I don’t. I stopped using Photoshop some time back and I now use PaintShop Pro. Nearly all of my HDR work is done with dedicated HDR programs like SNS-HDR or HDR Express from Unified Color, although I think I might be switching to Machinery soon once I’ve really given it a good try.



  5. I’ve had some more time to play with this software and I really am liking what I can do with it, here’s some more examples;

    First up, here’s another bracket of 5 RAW (-/+ 2 Ev). There’s no post processing in PhotoShop. It’s just an image straight from Machinery HdR Effects 2.2

    Five RAW

    Next is a Single JPEG. I know, I know. You can’t do HDR from single JPEG’s but you can enhance the details and Machinery HDR Effects 2.2 does seem to do that rather well.

    Single JPEG

    Once again this image is straight out of Machinery HDR Effects 2.2 with no post processing in any other photo editor


  6. Stunningly Vivid and Beautiful. Crystal clear and concise. Mike you are creative genius as well as an inspiration to all of us that strive for perfection and new challenges in photography. This is the photography I’ve always wanted to learn. What a challenge! Looking forward to trying new things with the tips you have given all of us. Thank You!


  7. You can’t argue with the results, but, still, it almost seems like cheating. But then, I guess, no more than using a photo editor.

    I know use Gamma and unsharp mask, mostly . . . but also brightness/contrast/intensity . . . and . . . hue/saturation/lightness as well when needed. HeeHee. But I think I’ve only used unsharp mask on my f-stop fantasy photo blog at

    I appreciate this particular post, as it has been very informative. Thanks.


  8. Looking at these images and understanding how they were done so easy without post processing I can’t wait to purchase this program.


  9. Cool review and I was excited about the product and ready to buy. Unfortunately, I just tried the demo and it crashes consistently and will not run. It is unusable. 😦 Have you ever seen that? I have sent a note to the developers to see if they have any ideas.


    • I have never found a problem with Machinery. It gives consistent results every time and has never crashed in all the time I have been using it. However saying that, I read on the Flickr HDR group a couple of days ago that there was a problem with it crashing, something to do with EXIF data, but that is supposed to be fixed now


      • The good news is that the developer was extremely responsive and replied rapidly. He is looking into it. Ironically, the problem seems to have disappeared and I have no idea why. Credit to the development team in this case for their responsiveness and willingness to work with a prospective customer. To the extent it matters, I would add good support to another point in favor of the product! 🙂


        • I have always found the developer responsive to any problems. he has slowly been adding little upgrades to the program, all of which have been free. Machinery is the only HDR program I use now.


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