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The Art and Science of HDR Photography

The Art and Science of HDR Photography

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Published by Yasir Ahmed

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Categories:Types, Reviews, Art
Published by: Yasir Ahmed on Dec 07, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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04/03/2013

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The digital equivalent to paintings that look more like photos may well be the surreal and super realistic images being
created by today’s digital photographers using digital cameras,
a personal computer and something called HDR (HighDynamic Range) photography processing.Photos of dramatic landscapes with greener than green grass, or lavender bushes with purple flowers that almostlook three-dimensional. These are often created from multiple photos that are merged using computer software topull out highlights, saturate colors or tweak the overall tone so the final image looks nothing like the shot you get froma single click of a camera shutter.San Fransisco after HDR enhancementSan Fransisco before HDR enhancement
―HDR photography is a technique of taking digital photos and then bringing out the details that are normally notcaptured in a single photo,‖ explains Mike Fard, an amateur photogragher who works at Intel and spends a l
ot of time
taking and manipulating pictures in his spare time. ―The HDR technique let’s you capture a scene’s depth and color the way your eyes would see it, vibrant and full of detail.‖
 
―Cameras, by their basic
-machine-
nature, are very good at capturing ―images‖
- lines, shadows, shapes
but they
are not good at capturing a scene the way the mind remembers and maps it,‖ wrote HDR pioneer Trey Ratcliff in his
blog StuckinCustoms.
―You wi
ll find that as you explore the HDR process, photos can start to evoke those deep
memories and emotions in a more tangible way. It’s really a wonderful way of ―tricking‖ your brain into experiencingmuch more than a normal photograph.‖
 Increasing the dynamic range reveals details in shadow areas while retaining details in the bright highlights. Thesephotographs are generally created using several consecutive
 –
or bracketed -- shots of the same scene taken with avariety of exposure settings. The shots ar
e then ―fused‖ into one image and enhanced using computer software that
boosts color saturation, tones, contrast and brightness, resulting in photos that are amazingly life-like or otherworldly,and sometimes mystical or even haunting.
 
 HDR image of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
But this form of digital enhancement may not be for everybody. Internet blogger Mike Panic says he doesn’t like HDRphotography, especially when it’s taken to the extreme. ―I’m fine with HDR as an art form, but perhaps the purist in
me deems that this much
manipulation to a photograph no longer makes it a photograph,‖ writes Panic on his
Photoletariat blog.
―I’ll freely admit that every single one of my digital photos has some form of digital retouch, I don’t
think any of them push the limits as far as som
e will in HDR.‖
 
It may be art, but there’s also a science to HDR photography that is brought to life by software and computer processing, which creates an image that resembles what meets the eye more than what’s actually captured by a
digital camera.
―Digital cameras can meter a scene the best it technically can, typically in the range of 4 to 9 f/stops,‖ wrote Kevin L.Moss, publisher of Digital Photography Daily. ―Our own eyes and brain view a scene, and can interpret approximately
9 to 14 f/stops. Th
at’s quite a difference. This is the primary reason, as you recall, that you often shoot scenes that
appear to you straightforward, but when you view them on your computer or LCD screen, the image lacks detail inshadow areas, or has blown out highlights in the lighter areas of the image. An HDR image, when shot and
processed properly, will give you detail in a much larger dynamic range than a normal photograph can present.‖
 Video This is exactly why Fard spends time processing his favorite travel photos using HDR.
―I like to extract all of the
details, as much of the fidelity of a scene as possible so it resembles how I really saw a place and how it made me
feel when I was there,‖ he said.
 One of the first credited with developing HDR imaging is Charles Wyckoff, whose detailed pictures of nuclearexplosions appeared on the cover of Life magazine in the mid 1940s. HDR has come a long way since then,considering that today a much scaled-down derivation of HDR is available on iPhone 4 and other smartphones,helping bring new interest in HDR photography from people experimenting with photos they shoot, edit and uploadfrom their phones.While some may discover HDR first on the phone, the most amazing works today are created using digital camerasand computer software.
―The raw image straight out of the sensor has much more detail than you can observe withthe eye, and that can be extracted from the HDR software on a PC,‖ says Fard.
 
―When I’m rea
lly cranking, I havemultiple instances of the program running at the same time, allowing me to enhance and process many images
simultaneously.‖
 
Fard’s
tips for creating HDR photos include:
 
 
Use a digital SLR camera with wide angle lens to capture landscapes and buildings. A point-and-shoot camera will
work, but you need to be able to shoot in ―manual’ mode.
 
 
 
Use a tripod whenever possible, or use any stable surface when you’re outside.
 
 
 
Always shoot in RAW format (not JPEG or another compressed format) so the digital camera can capture as muchdata as possible to create the image being shot
 
 
 
Use the camera’s exposure bracketing function(using shutter speed) to capture a rapid succession o
f shots thatinclude an under-exposed, normal, and over-exposed photo, which will be fused together by the HDR software.
 
 
Use the lowest ISO setting as possible and shoot in the afternoon as the sun is going down to capture beautiful colorsand clouds.
 
 
Experiment with different free HDR software, which can be downloaded from a variety of Websites, such asPhotomatix
 
 
Create an online photo account like Picasa Web Albums or Flickr to store and share your images.
Slideshow:
 Slide show -->The digital equivalent to paintings that look more like photos may well be the surreal and super realistic images being
created by today’s digital photographers using digital cameras, a personal computer and something called HDR (High
Dynamic Range) photography processing.Photos of dramatic landscapes with greener than green grass, or lavender bushes with purple flowers that almostlook three-dimensional. These are often created from multiple photos that are merged using computer software topull out highlights, saturate colors or tweak the overall tone so the final image looks nothing like the shot you get froma single click of a camera shutter.San Fransisco after HDR enhancementSan Fransisco before HDR enhancement
―HDR photography is a technique of taking digital photos and then bringing out the details that are normally notcaptured in a single photo,‖ explains Mike Fard, an amateur photogragher who works at Intel and spends a lot of time
taking and manipulating pi
ctures in his spare time. ―The HDR technique let’s you capture a scene’s depth and color the way your eyes would see it, vibrant and full of detail.‖
 
―Cameras, by their basic
-machine-
nature, are very good at capturing ―images‖
- lines, shadows, shapes
but they
are not good at capturing a scene the way the mind remembers and maps it,‖ wrote HDR pioneer Trey Ratcliff in his
blog StuckinCustoms.
―You will find that as you explore the HDR process, photos can start to evoke those deep

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