Monday, December 14, 2009

High Dynamic Range Photography, Part I

High Dynamic Range, or HDR photography is an attempt to make a photograph appear more like it does to your natural eye. Your eyes are able to simultaneously see the detail in the clouds of a bright sunny sky, and the texture of the underside of a rock in the shadow. Your camera's sensor is not. The idea then, is to take more than one exposure—one geared towards getting the details in the highlight areas of the frame, one at a "proper" exposure, and one geared towards getting the details of the shadows. That's a basic set-up, of course. Some HDRs take more exposures than three, some only take two, etc.

The unfortunate part of HDR is that it requires special software to do it quickly. It IS theoretically possible to merge more than one photo manually in Photoshop, but it's a whole lot of work, and the outcome usually isn't as good. I use Photomatix Pro.

Here is the result of my first ever attempt at HDR.

click to enlarge, or see it on Flickr

The verdict? Eh... it's okay. To be frank, I liked the results of the single "proper" exposure better. But the photo isn't composed very well. I was more concerned with getting source material for my hungry Photomatix Pro window. And honestly, I think this photo isn't a very good image for the HDR effect. Not very many shadows.

Oh, well. More to come, I hope. I've seen some pretty astounding HDRs, so if you have any good ones, link them in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very intrigued with HDR. It's something I haven't tried yet, but I do want to learn and master HDR at some point. I think your photo looks great - the colors and highlights are brilliant, and certainly not overcooked. Some HDRs tend to look overdone and "fake", but I like the subtle effect of mixing just a few layers of exposure, for the more natural effect - just like the one you posted here. Great job!


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