March 3, 2008
Enfuse is an open source blending program that creates images similar to tonemapped images, but without the halos. It doesn’t require HDR images to do the tonemapping either. Normally it exists as a command line, multi-platform application, but Export Plugin creator Timothy Armes has created a front end for it for Lightroom.
To use, you simply select the images you want to blend and select ‘Blend exposures using LR/Enfuse’. There are a number of options, but Tim’s default choices are a good look at what the Plugin can do. So rather than rattle off a series of facts from a press release, I’m going to do a quick blend.
Normally I shoot with ND Grad filters, but occasionally I shoot with the express purpose of blending. Here’s 2 images from a set of 5 that I took for blending. Unfortunately there is too much movement in the tripod to use the others. Enfuse will blend the images, but you see ghosting where the movement has happened. You’ll still see the blending working from them though. Tim has another example on the site.
Next I click on the menu to choose ‘Blend…’
The dialog opens for us to see. There are many options in the dialog, starting with the export folder and the filename. I’ve checked with Tim, but it’s not possible use Lightroom style naming Templates with this. The format options are similar to the Lightroom default options with Jpeg/Tiff output. As usual the default colour spaces are sRGB, Adobe RGB and ProPhotoRGB. With Jpg you get a quality slider, while with Tiff you can choose Compression type.
The next part is where the blend options take place. You’ve 3 items which weight the blending algorithm. If you’ve bracketed the exposures, I think the Exposure weight should take priority, but as with all things, experiment and see. The other 2 weighting options are Saturation and Contrast. You can opt to preview as you go to see how things are working out by ticking the ‘Generate new preview..’ box. This can become time consuming, so it’s easier to simply click ‘Generate Preview’ as required. Mac OSX users have Preview selected by default, Windows users can select an application from the Configuration Tab. The preview size and things like EXIF info and ‘Open Blend File in’ options. If you choose Lightroom as this last option, the newly generated file will trigger the Import dialog in Lightroom, which is very handy. There is also an Expert Settings Tab, but as I’m not an expert with this, I’ll defer to Tim’s choice with it.
Above is the preview generated. Bear in mind that I’ve done no editing on the original files, these are the unprocessed RAWs. I’ve also use the default Enfuse options.
Next we see the newly imported blend file between the original 2 files. It’s a bit flat so I apply some Vibrance, Fill Light and Blacks to give it some punch.
Just for some clarity on the matter, I don’t think my source images are particularly strong, but are here to demonstrate the use of the plugin. There is a small amount of ghosting on the tree for example. Now that I have this plugin, I’ll be more likely to shoot with using it in mind.
LR/Enfuse is available from Timothy Armes website and is a donationware plugin.