High Dynamic Range Photos

A single camera  image does NOT reflect what the human eye and brain’s interpretation. Enter HDR –





High Dynamic Range Photography

  • HDR
  • A single image from a camera does NOT reflect what the human eye and brain can interpret from a given scene. Our eyes adjust for varying light and detail. The camera can only record a single interpretation based on one f/stop, shutter speed, and ISO value. In an attempt to approximate the abilities of the human eye, HDR rendering can average three or more exposures of the same scene and utilize the best parts of each of those exposures. Using conservative HDR settings, you can render an image that appears to be a more accurate version of what you actually remember seeing.
  • Two ways to work with your images:
    1. Take three exposures of the same image. Some cameras today have built in HDR features. Best to make the 3-5 exposures varying the shutter speed rather than aperture…to avoid depth of field problems.

  • This is a single exposure of this chapel. Notice the lack of detail and highlights in the area of the pews. Now by taking three different exposures of the same scene (in this case on a tripod with a cable release) you can render an HDR image that captures more detail.

  • Notice how the detail has improved and how the entire scene looks more like you might have viewed it with the naked eye.
  • To do this, you simply use an HDR program either as a free-standing software or one integrated into an image editor like Photoshop. In Photoshop you would go to File>Automate> Merge To HDR Pro as seen below:


  • Once you have this screen, you indicate the images you wish to merge into and HDR image. They should be listed in order of exposure. The chapel image just shown is an example of this method.
    1. Take a single image and run it through an HDR Toning procedure to approximate the same HDR effect as when using multiple exposures. In Photoshop it looks like this:



























  • Playing with the sliders will change the various balances and create your HDR version of the print. Other programs are available with varying capabilities in rendering HDR images.
  • An example of this is:




























  • When taken to extremes, these images can take on a rather unrealistic look, but my recommendation is to use this technique to enhance images that have an excessive range of light and a problem with lacking detail.
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