PREPARING THE IMAGES
First thing to do is to import the RAW exposures into Lightroom or Photoshop to convert them into Jpeg cause the conversion and the merge of RAW files is not the best with Photomatix.
CORRECT THE EXPOSURES
Now you need to make some corrections and then sync the images, these changes concern Chromatic Aberrations and White Balance. Start with syncronize the images, you will see this menu:
Then correct Chromatic Aberration and White Balance with menu on the Right.
Now is possible to export the images as 100% quality into Photomatix, to do that go to Lightroom menu File>Export and select jpeg sRGB 100% quality
LOAD FILES INTO PHOTOMATIX
Open Photomatix, load the exported images and click ok. A screen will appear regarding the processing options. Align Source images concerns the alignment of the screen shows, I recommend to use matching features when you shoot handheld. I usually shot with tripod so I use by correcting horizontal and vertical shift, since this option tends to produce the best results. The second part regards a function that allow to remove ghosts operating on selected sections and choose the right exposure for each ghosted region. The last two sections should always be selected if you don’t know how Reduce noise and Chromatic aberration, but there are many instruments to remove them, I usually prefer remove them manually into Photoshop.
On the next screen we are going to change the values of our pictures on the left menu. There are no written rules about how the values should be set, as they are depending on the avaiable light in the picture. Then set your values in order to get the maximum detail from the image being always careful not to increase too much noise in your photos.
Strength: Higher but not maximum values, a strength too high could make the image darken. I usually set this slider around 70 -85 max;
Color Saturation: Is a slider to increase the amount of color saturation in the image. If you need to increase your colors set it more than 50 but personally I don’t move it more than 50;
Luminosity: Enhance details in the shadows, much of the setting of this slider varies from picture to picture, interesting values are between +30 and +50;
Detail contrast: Is the main values to increase the details in the picture, set this slider in a range +40, +60 it depends on the image. Try to to keep it balanced with the Luminosity values;
Lightinig Adjustments: I never use Lighting effect mode, set the slider and move it on the left to have a surreal look, on the right values are near the real effect of your picture. Do not overboard on the left, you risk to cartoonage the image.
Smooth Highlights: This slider reduces contrast in the highlights, move the slider to the right to bright the image.
White Point: White Point set the overall brightness in the HDR. The use of this slider depends on your image, I usually set white point around 0,4
Black Point: They are very similar to White Point, move them to increase the point of black of your images, I’m very low with this slider, set them less than White Points and less 1
Gamma: Increase the overall brightness of the image, you can use it to brigh or to darken more your image.
Temperature: is the slider to warmer or to coolder the image. I usually leave this slider to default cause I prefer correcting temperature into Photoshop.
Micro Smoothing: Is to intervene on the best part of details and to clean the image. Put it not more than 20 if you don’t wanto to loose too much details.
Saturation Highlights: Increase the colors in the highlights. I usually set this lighter high if I have a nice sky to show otherwise I don’t use this option.
Saturation Shadows: Increase the colors in the shadows. I never use this slider
Shadow Smoothess: This slider is usefull to darken the foreground and to give a more realistic look to the image.
Shadow Clipping: Increase the shadow range clipping. I never use this slider.
BELOW THE SCREENSHOT WITH SAMPLE IMAGE SETTINGS