How do I make my HDR images more realistic?
HDR images often appear unrealistic due to a number of factors. When striving for a realistic image, keep the following in mind: Photographic images generally have a full range of tonality meaning the images normally contain objects ranging from black to white. Use the Background Color Selector to change the background from the default gray to black and white while watching the colors and tonality change throughout the image. Ensure that objects that appear white are close to actual white and objects that appear black are close to actual black before applying the effect.
Shadows should appear as shadows. Often HDR images have too much tone compression applied to them which can lighten shadows to the point that they are the same tonality as the surrounding objects. This results in a strange appearance that does not look realistic. If this happens, try reducing the Tone Compression slider, increasing the Contrast slider, or adding a control point on the shadow and adjusting the Exposure slider.
HDR processing can also increase the saturation of images to an unnatural level. Reducing the saturation slightly, especially in foliage, can ensure that the image appears natural.