Luminance HDR: Project of the Month, May 2012

SourceForge is excited to announce that Luminance HDR is the May 2012 Project of the Month.

(See other Projects Of The Month)

Last week I spoke with Davide Anastasia, Daniel Kaneider, and Franco Comida about the project. Luminance HDR is SourceForge’s May Project Of The Month. (See other POTMs.) The project of the month is chosen through a poll that we conduct via the TwtPoll website. We encourage you to vote in next month’s POTM poll, which should be coming up shortly.

You can listen to my interview with them below.

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Rich: Davide, Daniel, and Franco talked with me about the project, and the HDR process in general.

You can see some of the results of their software on their Flickr group, or on their Facebook page.

So, here’s my interview with the Luminance HDR team.

First of all, congratulations on this honor, and thank you so much for being part of the SourceForge community!

Davide: Oh, it’s great to be part of it, actually!

Rich: Tell me about your project. Tell me what it does. Tell me how you all got started doing this.

Davide: The project is a complete solution for HDR photography. What’s HDR? It’s basically the possibility of creating images that have an ideal dynamic range of colors. We do that by merging multiple pictures of the same scene together, and then we post-process them to create a new, say, jpeg or gif image. That’s just a brief introduction to the project.

Rich: I first started seeing photographs like this just a few years ago. How old is this technology?

Davide: Actually it’s pretty old, because there’s been research on this field since the early 90s. We already had commercial products starting at the beginning of the 2000’s. The nice thing is, it seems that Luminance HDR is the unique Open Source solution in this field. That’s why we get so much attention.

Rich: How big is your developer community?

Davide: It’s basically three of us.

Rich: Do you find that professional photographers are you using your software, or is it hobbyists, or …

Davide: We have a very good community spread across Facebook and Flickr. We do have professional photographers using Luminance HDR. In most of the cases they use Luminance HDR to create the first image, and then they post-process with other software solutions, like good commercial ones, or Gimp, and just stay in the Open Source community. We do have a lot of interesting pictures on Flickr, and we would really like to share the link to our Flickr group.

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Rich: Tell me something about the HDR process itself. I’ve seen tutorials that say you have to have multiple photographs, and others that say that’s not really necessary. Tell me some more about that.

Davide: Well, it depends. It depends what you want to achieve. Many people just want to achieve the HDR look. They usually start with a single image. But if you really want to cover the entire dynamic range of the scene, then … usually we use a lot of HDR photography for landscapes, because it’s the kind of situation where you really have strong difference between the foreground and background. In this situation, you really need to have a bracket group of pictures. We do recommend three pictures. Let’s say, one to what the camera suggests to be the best exposure, and plus 2 and minus 2 exposure value. And any decent camera can do that. It really opens this possibility to a large base of users.

Rich: What programming language is your software written in?

Davide: It’s mostly C++, with some code in C, here and there. It’s basically legacy code which will be replaced sooner or later. But it’s mostly C++. We do use QT, as a GUI library, widget library. And we do use, obviously, other libraries to read images, for doing color correction. Actually, Franco is doing a really good job with the color management system. He has been working on this thing for a couple of months already. We do have new features coming in pretty soon as well.

Rich: Tell me some more about that. What’s upcoming in future versions of this software?

Davide: We do have a lot of things, actually. As I said, Franco is working on the color management system. And in the meanwhile, I’ve been working on a new engine for the entire Luminance HDR, based on Boost GIL. So we do have a lot of projects going on which will change Luminance HDR a lot in the future. We don’t know the time frame, because, as you can imagine, this is not our first activity, so we do have to manage our time. Probably Daniel and Franco have to speak as well.

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Daniel: I’m doing the testing on the Windows side. From the developer point of view I’m the only one who is using Windows as a primary system. So mainly some testing and small patches. So for example improving some small Windows features, like using the Windows progress bar.

Franco: I’ve been working for about two months on the color management system, which enables Luminance to manage the color of the pictures, so they can look the same on the monitor or on a printer. That’s what I’m doing now.

Rich: And when do you anticipate that the next version will be ready?

Davide: We don’t actually know the date. We were thinking to be releasing something in a month’s time, probaby a beta. We do release a stable version pretty much every six months. The last stable version was in January. We usually release one in July, and again in January. And in the meanwhile, we do release some betas here and there, because we want people to test features. We do work a lot with our users. We have a Facebook group and a Flickr group as well. We do create a bit of community around the software. It might be interesting to join one or the other. And we usually collect lots of nice feedback from these communities.

Rich: Thank you all very much for speaking with me.

All: Thank you.

Rich: And congratulations again!

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