What is HDR?

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What is HDR?

Post by SpiffyPix on 2009-01-23, 16:03

HDRI, or High Dynamic Range Imagery, 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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