HDR Panoramas with free tools (Part 1, Overview)

After my first naive trials of creating high dynamic panoramas I digged a little deeper. I started figuring out a workflow, which

  • is completely HDR, no intermediate Jpegs or Pngs
  • uses only free open source tools

At the moment my workflow is designed as follows:

  1. Exposures in RAW with my Nikon D80, triple bracketing for each panorama section
  2. Combination of each bracketing set with Qtpfsgui
  3. Panorama Stitching with Hugin (v0.7b4)
  4. Retouching and Cropping with Cinepaint
  5. Tonemapping and Jpeg Export with Qtpfsgui

Each of the above tools supports one or more HDR formats (hdr, pfs, openexr, tiff), but the intersection is incomplete. Thus, the following table shows, which formats to load and save in each step:

HDR Panorama Workflow with Input and Output Formats
Nr Step Tool Open as Save as Comment
1 Exposure Digital camera RAW
2 HDR Combination Qtpfsgui RAW HDR
3 Panorama Stitching Hugin HDR TIFF (IEEE 32bit) Automatic control points with autopano-sift and the PTStitcher don’t work with HDR. Define control points manually and stitch with nona
Intermediate Converting PFStools TIFF OpenEXR TIFFs saved from Hugin won’t show up in Cinepaint
4 Cropping and Retouching Cinepaint OpenEXR OpenEXR Adding an alpha channel required before saving
5 Tonemapping Qtpfsgui OpenEXR JPEG My favorite algo is fattal02

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