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Success Stories ‘08: Improving HDR imaging with Qtpfsgui

Published on October 4th, 2008 by Ellen Reitmayr

The goal of this project was to improve various tools and the overall usability of Qtpfsgui, an open source graphical user interface application that aims to provide a workflow for High dynamic range (HDR) imaging.

Along with mentors Roman Bednark, Giuseppe Rota, and Alexadre Prokoudine, Vladimir Smida created sketches for Qtpfsgui that will improve visual rather than parameter-centric working modes. Vladimir documented his work in his blog.

Read on for the Vladimir’s project report:


Within the Season of Usability I worked on the software named Qtpfsgui which deals with image postprocessing and -creating of HDR pictures, and converting them to LDR (tone-mapping). Tone-mapping (TM) represents the key feature of the programme and so far its use has been too complicated and not very intuitive.

The tutors and I analysed the situation and we pointed out the main problems in the TM workflow. Here I will describe them followed by my solvings.

Tone-Mapping Preview

When using the tone-mapping tool, there is a weak interaction with the user, without any possibility to see the changes in the image while processing it. Tone-mapping the whole image after changing a single Tone-mapping operator would be too time-consuming. But at the same time, using a small preview of the image is not possible as some of operators produce different pictures depending on the size.

This situation lead us to the idea of using just a cropped area of the whole image as a preview. The user can set the area, change the size, position, simply drag the current area to other place in the image or choose a new one with different parameters settings.

Supporting Beginners

Every tone-mapping operator has its different parameters that must be set by the user who has no idea what each of them mean. As there can be more parameters at each tone-mapping operator, the most difficult for the user is to find the right combination. That’s why I designed a new feature for the beginning users - automatic generating of samples with different parameters settings. Then the user can choose from the sample pictures.

Visual Comparing

The tone-mapping operator panel is already overcrowded and thus doesn’t give a possibility to extend the current workflow with new features. According to this issue I invented a completely new design including all the new features. The new design is based on the possibility of visual comparing of different tone-mapped cropped areas in the content of the whole image, easily accessible via the Temp Result List.

More Work

Here I only mentioned the basic innovations, some more have also been done. All of them were publicated on my blog. The tone-mapping part of my task is almost done nevertheless there are still some details that I’m going to solve even after the Season of Usability finishes.

This project was mentored by:
United Users, Finland

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