Saturday 13 April 2024 
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high dynamic range photography


Welcome to the High Dynamic Range section of our website. For those not familiar with the technique, what exactly does it do? My definition would be that HDR is a process that allows a greater dynamic range between the lightest and darkest areas of an image than standard photographic methods. This wider dynamic range allows HDR images to more accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes. For example, if you've taken a picture where the shadows are too dark and/or the highlights are too bright, then HDR can help you recover lost detail. It can often retrieve an otherwise failed shot, but it also seems particularly effective at bringing out reflections in water.

The main use of HDR is the merging of either multiple photographs ('bracketed' at different exposures) or 'virtual' images cloned from a single picture at different exposures. Shooting bracketed exposures is often not practical, appropriate, or even possible, for instance when there is movement (which would cause 'ghosting' across multiple exposures). In Lightroom my normal tactic for single exposures is to create two virtual copies from the original, one over-exposed, the other under-exposed, and to export these three images to a piece of software called Photomatix, which then processes them using either tone-mapping or exposure fusion, and then re-imports the result back into Lightroom.

On this page are two examples of shots before v after HDR processing. The before shots weren’t exactly rubbish, but the after versions are arguably more interesting (click the thumbnails on the right for their larger versions). Now there are those that say that HDR processing results in ‘fake’-looking pictures; all I can say is have a look at a range of pictures and see what you think. To decide for yourself, open our gallery of HDR pictures, by clicking here  [requires login]

But if you want to see some really striking HDR shots, where the HDR-effect takes precedence over subtlety, click here.

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