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HDR Photography

April 7, 2007

It stands for high dynamic range, and it’s visually stunning. I can’t wait to try it. Here’s a couple I found on Flickr that I could share via their creative commons licensing. (Thanks to the photographers! Do click on their images and see their other work.)

Stunning, don’t you agree? But what exactly makes HDR photos visually different than others? It’s hard to articulate. Are they more like what your eye sees, or less? I’m not certain. One thing I can say is that there are no areas so shadowed as to contain no detail; even darker areas have incredible texture and color. And speaking of color, it’s rich and saturated throughout. But even though there are no under- or over-exposed areas to wipe information out of the scene, neither is it without contrast. On the contrary, the contrast seems exceptionally high. It’s a fascinating effect.

As best I can figure out, here’s what’s going on. You take three or more* photos of the same thing: one dark, one normal and one light. Then you use computer software to merge them into one. It also analyzes each color of light in the photo and uses the shot that originally captured that light the best for the final product. If that makes sense. You might find the wikipedia article on the subject more informative.

* Actually if you shoot in RAW format, I gather there’s a way to take just one picture and use it to create the three different exposures after the fact. Neat!

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  1. While I have not tried it (as I do not have PS anymore), I can say that yes…taking the photos in RAW format should allow you to generate the 3 different shots…although I am not sure if that will be the same as taking the three shots independent of one another. Something to try once I get PS again.



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