High Dynamic Range Photography
You’ve likely seen them lately, if you visit photography sites of any kind – the so-called “HDR” photographs that have been making their way onto the net. Maybe you like them, maybe you think the effect is overused, or maybe you don’t know what HDR means. If you don’t like them, this article won’t be for you, but for the rest of us, I hope to explain a little more about these HDR shots and how to create them yourself.
First of all, let’s get the basics out of the way. What does HDR stand for? It means “high dynamic range,” the field’s way of defining imagery that more or less expresses how things are actually seen by the human eye. That means shots with very differently-lit areas, like a city and sky at night or a sunny day’s landscape, can be captured as they look to your eye, with the correct levels for both or all of these different regions and all highlights and shadows evenly matched for the highest-detail shot you can get.
That may all be well and good, but I know what you want to know – how can I make one? There are programs out there that we can use to help us in this endeavor, but before we ever get to a computer, the shots have to get taken!
Think back in your photography life. Have you ever taken a shot of a landscape and had the sky come out beautiful and bright… and then had the ground show up miserably underexposed? Of course, when you try and recalibrate to get the details you lost on the ground, the sky looks bland and completely uninteresting. This is a prime example of when to try your hand at an HDR shot.