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Blog // Images
August 12, 2010

High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range, or HDR is a digital process that allows photographers to develop images from a series of photos that have a much greater dynamic range, or intensity of light than conventional images. For example, when you shoot a sunrise, often one part of the photo will be very bright, while another will be […]

High Dynamic Range, or HDR is a digital process that allows photographers to develop images from a series of photos that have a much greater dynamic range, or intensity of light than conventional images. For example, when you shoot a sunrise, often one part of the photo will be very bright, while another will be dark. By taking a series of shots, at different levels of exposure, then processing them with software, you can create images that would be impossible to render with a conventional photograph.

You can do this in Adobe Photoshop and there are specialist programmes, like Photomatix (which I use), that will also handle the process. When you push the parameters, this approach can give some crazy intense colours, as in this shot of a Spiderweb, that I took in Cambodia.

Or, sometimes the HDR images can have an eerie, luminous quality to them

But, fun as those of sorts of images are, I’ve found the process of creating HDR photos a little underwhelming. Thankfully, on Neil van Niekerk’s blog there is a great guest post from Tom Kaszuba, outlining a different approach to HDR than one I had been using. Tom Kazuba also uses Photomatix Pro, but in a very basic way, then does some smart stuff in Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw. The image below, a sunset in Adelaide, is my first attempt with this method.

Not a perfect image, but a lot more satisfying than most of my previous HDR attempts.

Responses
Tom 12 years ago

Interested to read that much better photographers also struggle with HDR. I’ve tried bracketing and using PS a few times and don’t particularly notice the difference. I’ve just begun to shoot in RAW so am hoping the increase in file size might give the shots enough so HDR can do something more interesting.

The thing I find is that the unnatural shots (like the spiderweb) are interesting but what I want to do is make normal shots a bit better. Your sunset definitely does that! I’ll give it a go.

PS how many exposures did you take? I am still only taking 3 – shld I up that to 7 etc. (seems a bit over the top)

    Fernando Gros 12 years ago

    Tom – thanks for your comment. I suspect you will find shooting RAW helps with HDR processing. Right now I usually shoot 5 images and occasionally 7. I found going to 5 made a big difference over shooting 3.

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