Recently I have seen many HDR images that were too exaggerated, making them completely unrealistic and in some cases even unpleasant to watch. Programs such as Photomatix make it very easy to create HDR images but they are also tend to lead people to create very exaggerated HDR images, maybe because it is very easy to accomplish in these programs.
I have nothing against using HDR techniques in creating artistic imagery, but I would like to remind you that the original intention of the HDR was just to increase the dynamic range of the photograph.
However with a little knowledge of Photoshop, you can do that – you can create an HDR image that will look very realistic but still show all the detail that you want it to show.
I created a pretty simple tutorial that shows how to manually create HDR image in Photoshop. In this tutorial I used two photos taken at the same location (using tripod), one exposed for the bright sky and the other one exposed for the darker lower part. Though I used only two photos, you can use as many photos as you like revealing detail in any part of the scene according to your preferences.
There is one point of this tutorial that I would like to stress out one more time – use large brush with soft edges and opacity around 50 to 60 percent. It is important so that your final image won’t have these “white glow” edges that can be seen in so many HDR images.
If this tutorial helped you to create your own HDR images I would sure like to see them! But if you don’t have Photoshop, but still want to create HDR images, you might want to try Photomatix.