So what is HDR?

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So what is HDR?

Post by SpiffyPix on 2009-01-21, 14:03

HDRI, or High Dynamic Range Imaging, is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of luminances between light and dark areas of a scene than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to shadows.

What does that all mean? When you take a normal photograph, your camera can't capture all of the light information that the human eye is able to see. The camera does its best to try and properly expose the photo, but that usually leaves blown highlights (overexposed areas) and clipping (shadowed areas).

Let's say you take a photo of your child outside. The child is properly exposed, but the sky is completely over-exposed. And any areas that are in shadows are underexposed. There's no detail in the sky or in the shadows.

This is where HDR comes in.

When creating an HDR image, you take multiple bracketed exposures (usually three or more) and combine them together using some third-party software. Bracketed means that you're taking three photos in quick succession: one normally exposed, one over-exposed and one under-exposed. When you combine the three differently exposed photos together (usually using Photomatix), you now have detail in the highlights and shadows. It makes for a much more visually interesting photograph.

HDR images run the gamut, from subtle to the surreal. There are people that don't like the 'cartoony' look that some heavily-processed HDRs produce. But the thing to remember is that HDRI is a technique and you can use that technique however you see fit. Not everyone is going to like every version of HDR, but art is art. And all versions of HDR are welcome here!
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Re: So what is HDR?

Post by Lake Mary on 2009-01-21, 21:12

The Fuji S3/S5 has the highest dynamic range I believe. In a Nikon body, it seems to be OK 1+/1- in compensation. Works fine for me.

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Re: So what is HDR?

Post by garyros on 2009-02-11, 11:49

However, understand that even though the cameras have a high dynamic range, they do not capture all of the tones. Their dynamic range is based upon exposure only and not tonal mapping.
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Re: So what is HDR?

Post by muralist0221 on 2009-02-28, 16:50

Spiffy, I have printed out your instructions for HDR. Have Adobe Bridge, CS-3 and PhotoMatrix. Your technique involves the "merge to HDR" section of CS-3, then PhotoMatrix Tone Mapping. Have done your method successfully. Have also used the traditional 3 or more RAW images directly into PhotoMatrix. The results are quite different. Have any thoughts on why you selected the first technique over the direct PhotoMatrix recommendations?
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Re: So what is HDR?

Post by SpiffyPix on 2009-02-28, 19:27

Hi muralist -

Honestly, the only reason why I do the Bridge/Photoshop merge is because that's how I learned it. I was told early on that Photoshop merges photos better than photomatix, as it lines the photos up in a more concise manner. I wish I had a better reason than that!

Please, share your two different results with us when you are able!

Mel

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