HDR is my favorite tool!

Posted on May 12, 2011

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Building on  my last post, I am introducing the most radical form of photography post-production manipulation:  HDR.  for those that don’t know, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  Basically, the human eye can see detail in the range of 15 or so stops.  The average camera sensor can record about 7 or 8 stops.  HDR takes 2 or more images and combines them to show a visual range of 14 to 20 stops.    A lot of photogs don’t care for it since it can be “over-done” and the photography becomes digital art instead of a realistic image.  Personally, I could care less.  Photography is art, whether realistic or impressionistic.   With realism, the idea is to merge the usable parts of several images taken several stops apart.  Here is a decent example of a realistic image that has increased dynamic range:

I decided when I saw the door that it would be a good candidate for HDR so I took one image exposed for the top of the door.  I followed this with one 2 stops darker for the background seen behind the door and another 2 stops lighter for the bottom of the door and grass.  There are several programs that can help you with the merging and subsequent “Tone Mapping”  I used Dynamic Photo HDR for this image.

On the other hand, you can purposely over-cook an HDR image.  This technique uses the same idea as before, but maxes out the contrast.  It creates an ethereal effect.  My wife calls it the “Kincade” technique.

Here is  one that would be considered Over-Done or Over Cooked.  This was a very low contrast, very plain image before the HDR process.

There are many different reasons to use HDR and each method can give it’s own perspective.  I also must warn you that many photographers out there have no respect for any HDR image.  Just saying the letters may get you hanged in some groups.  Have fun with your photos, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Posted in: Photography