Few more hours

Only few more hours to join my HDR editing contest, sponsored by OLONEO. So don’t forget to send or submit your entry. And for those who miss it, don’t worry, you still can join giveaway, which will be running for one more week. To join, please visit the contest page here: https://www.hdrshooter.com/2013/11/18/photo-contest-sponsored-by-oloneo/

Determining the sun position

One thing that you need to know, as a landscape photographer, is the sun position. There are many tools to find it out, so I thought I share with you the ones I use. When I’m on my desktop, I use Suncalc.net. It’s very straightforward, clean and easy to use.
When I’m on the road, or already on the spot, I use one one of these two apps for Android. Either Sundroid or  The Photographer’s Ephemeris. Both give me the same information about the suns position, but Sundroid also includes information on moon and planets position. But the interface is a little more cumbersome. So I use them both.

The Photographers Ephemeris
The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Which one do you prefer? Or any tips for even better ones?

In the bar

I’ve been out taking photos again today, but as I haven’t posted any interior shots for a long time, I thought I post one today. So here is a photo from the Mirror bar in Carlton hotel in Bratislava. It’s a really nice small bar, perfect to get a coffer and a cake :). Maybe for my next business meeting.

This photo is a combination of all the techniques I use. I created a HDR in Oloneo Photoengine, one in Photomatix Pro 5 and then I blended these two together with the original exposures I had. I had to also tone down the colors a lot, as the combination of red carped, red walls and reddish/brown wood gave everything a really strong red color.

In the bar
All rights reserved, this photo is a property of Carlton Property s.r.o. Please do not use without permission.

If there is one essential plugin for Photographers, I think this is the one. Color efex from Nik (now a part of Google) is a huge collection of filters, each one with its own set of parameters. Just by using it, you can create a lot of stunning looks, and also correct many photography problems. To go through all the available filters would make this review huge, so I will go through my favorite ones, that help me the most in my photos.

Pro contrast

This is the most useful one. It can correct color cast, contrast and also add more dynamic contrast, which created more detail and local contrast in you photo. It also gives a certain pop your photos, so they just look better and catch the viewers eye much more than before.

Detail extractor

Can add crazy amount of detail to your photo. I’am always very careful with this one, as it can easily be overdone. But when you need to pull out detail from shadows, this filter will help you (just don’t use it on object edges).

Glamour glow

This is primary a filter for portrait photos, but it can also be used for landscape shots. Especially fluffy clouds looks better after this is applied. It gives a glow and contrast to everything and you can also choose the temperature of the glow.

Darken/Lighten center

Creates a vignette around the photo, but also brightens the center. This is currently my favorite way to add a vignette. Adding a vignette can help guide the eyes into the center of the photo, so making it more interesting.

Cross processing

Cross processing simulates an effect from analog photography, where chemical solutions intended for different types of films were used to develop the photo. This creates a color shift in all color channels. There are multiple color shifts available and and you can specify the strength used.


This one adds color. And it you push it into higher settings, you will see colors you didn’t even know were in your photo. Again, should be used with lower settings, not as in this example screenshot.


Fills you whole image with light. It really feels like if you took your photo during a very sunny day. It can help you  a lot when you have taken your photos during a grey, very cloudy day.


This one simulates the polarization filter that you attach to your lens. You can specify the rotation and strength, and it will saturate and darken all the blue areas in you photo.

Indian summer

Change your summer shots into autumn shots. That’s exactly what this filter does. It takes all you green areas and changes them into yellow, orange or red ones.

Tonal contrast

Tonal contrast filter created a lot of local detail. You can specify how much the highlights, mid-tones and shadows are affected. This one can get you that grungy HDR look.

Additional you can use control points, to specify areas where the effect is used/not used. This is very hand if you don’t want to mask the layer with the original picture afterwards. It can help you to be faster in your processing of photos.

Color efex also always creates a new layer on which it applies the filer, which is very hand if you want to use it only on part of your photo. But be careful that you have no selection made, as that will make the effect only on the parts of the selection. Also if you want to have it effecting all layers, create a merged copy first.

Overall Color efex is one of the best plugins for photography editing you can get. It makes the work faster and easier. The only thing I don’t like, is that the Color efex window always wants to be in focus, so it forces you to look at progress bars. If you use it a lot, this can be so irritating. But that’s only a minor issue and it does not effect the performance of the plugin in anyway.

For additional information on Color efex, you can visit the Nik collection site here http://www.google.com/nikcollection/. Google does not offer any discount codes there, but if you look around, you maybe find one of the old ones, and can get the collection for a little cheaper :)

View all my other reviews here.

And here are few photos I used this plugin on. You can actually say, I used it in almost every single of my photos, in one way or another.
Easter Market
Summer colors
Bridges over Vltava

Oloneo Photoengine

I use multiple approaches and programs for my HDR processing and blending. One of my favorites is also the Oloneo Photoengine. As all HDR programs go, the results vary from photo to photo, but there are some points that make this one of the best programs to blend you photos. Except the last part, this review is also about HDRengine, which is a part of Photoengine.


This is the fastest blending program I ever used. You can see all the changes you do on the photo in real time, and once they are done, you can directly save the photo, without any additional time needed for processing.
Oloneo Photoengine

Sharpness of result

A lot of HDR programs can remove a lot of sharpness from the photo. In my experience Photoengine leaves most of the sharpness in tact. The only way I can get more, is if I blend the photos manually in Photoshop.
Oloneo Photoengine

Easy to use

This is my favorite thing about Photoengine. As I don’t really use presets that much, I really like that I’m able to get my result by using only one slider. Just by using the TM Strength I can get the result I need maybe 90% of the time. The rest of the time I only add more contrast and maybe change the white balance.
Oloneo Photoengine

Single Image processing

Oloneo Photoengine doesn’t care if you put in one photo or multiple, it will treat them all the same, and you can use all the tools in both situations.

Other HDR editing features

Among other notable features, is the Natural HDR mode, which will make your photo more realistic (especially it will remove over-saturated colors), Detail strength, which will add a lot of detail, and I think should be used very lightly and complete set of tools needed to correct the colors or colorize your photo. All this tools are great if you don’t plan to continue your edit in Photoshop, but I don’t use them that often.
Oloneo Photoengine

Photoengine vs. HDRengine

There is a second program from Oloneo, called HDRengine. All I mentioned until now is the same also for HDRengine, as that includes the same HDR editing parts. The difference between these two is, that Photoengine also includes two additions parts. They are HDR Relight, where you can combine photos of the same scene, with different light sources turned on. You can then control each light individually to create a final photo. The second addition is HDR DeNoise where Photoengine uses multiple photos of the same scene, taken with the same settings, to remove noise. This is different than normal noise reduction, and the results loose no detail in the process.
Oloneo Photoengine

There are few things I don’t like about Photoengine. I don’t like the way the file browser works, where you have to browse for the folders, instead just going up and down in the tree structure. Also if they included the double click on the setting name to reset it, would make the work much faster. Additionally in the blending, with some photos the algorithm can create halos or a bright stroke around the dark areas. As I said, it’s not perfect for all the photos, but no program is.

Overall I highly suggest you give this program a try. It’s one of the simplest ways to start with HDR and also creates one of the most natural feeling results from them all.

For more information about Oloneo Photoengine and HDRengine, please visit the Oloneo site.

View all my other reviews here.

And here are few photos where I used Oloneo Photoengine for the initial HDR blending.
Above Paris
Something green
The setting sun in Bratislava

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