To HDR or Not To HDR
Project 52 – Entry #7
Last week I posted a sunset picture that I made reference too as being a HDR image and I thought I should probably get into that a little bit more this week. Now there’s a lot of debate out there as to whether HDR photography is realistic or not. Well that depends on the picture and who you ask. Some HDR images are processed in such a way as to have a very “grungy” look and that works in certain situations and for specific subjects. HDR is also used in difficult lighting conditions where metering for one area may leave another either underexposed or overexposed (such as my 3rd photo below where the interior was quite dark but outside it was a bright sunny day).
So what is HDR?
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range imaging. It’s a technique that gives a photograph a greater dynamic range of shadows, midtones and highlights or the darker and lighter part of an image. In some instances what the eye actually sees is not interpreted in the same way through the lens. DSLRs will pick up a lot of detail in a scene but not the full dynamic range.
I’m not going to write a whole tutorial on the subject but I did want to give you some insight to what HDR is all about.
A HDR image is made up of anywhere from 3 to 9 bracketed exposures (yes I’ve seen some photographers use 9 but let’s stick with the low-end of the spectrum for now). By the way “bracketed exposures” are a sequence of images taken at different exposures that are then merged in post-production using software such as Photoshop or HDRsoft’s Photomatix Pro.
A few key things to remember when shooting your brackets:
- always use a tripod (although I’m bad because I’ve found myself in situations where I didn’t have my tripod with me. It’s amazing how one learns to hold one’s
breath in these situations.)
- Use a consistent aperture, ISO & focus. I always stick with 100 ISO so I don’t have a lot of noise in my final image.
- If you can, use a remote shutter release to avoid even the slightest camera shake
Now that you’ve taken your shots, downloaded and merged your brackets you’re now ready for tonemapping. What you thought you were finished? This is where the hard work comes in but I’ll tackle that in another post.
If you’re interested in learning more about HDR Photography then you need to check out Trey Ratcliff from StuckInCustoms.com who just released a new HDR Video Tutorial which is awesome! Click here to see Stuck In Customs.