somewhat daily mutterings

/Creations/Photography HDR Photography Experimentation

I've lately been experimenting with HDR (high dynamic range) photography. So what is HDR, really, you ask? In a very small, imprecise nutshell HDR uses software to combine multiple identical compositions, taken at different exposures (under exposed, normally exposed, and overexposed), to take advantage of details not captured in the normal exposure.

Imagine taking a picture of a very contrasty scene. You've probably taken photos where the detail is either hidden in the shadows or in the highlights. If you were to adjust your exposure to get detail in one area you lose it in another. The HDR solution is to take multiple shots with different exposures and combine them into a 32-bit image (which is unviewable), and then to use another softare tool (a tone mapper) to smash the bits back into a viewable depth (8, 12, or 16 bits).

Cottonwood Tree [HDR Gallery]

When used properly (not saying that I do), HDR can provide incredible results. Sometimes though, it can come off as a gimmicky processing trick (probably like mine). I'm experimenting to find the right combination of techniques to get natural-looking improvements on very contrasty scenes.

The software I used to do the HDR processing of the photos in my HDR Gallery is Photomatix Pro, which sells for about $100. There's a lot more detail on HDR and other dynamic range enhancement techniques on that site.

Posted: Sat Aug 05 15:11:30 -0700 2006

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