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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Brief Guide To HDR Photography

High-dynamic-range photography has caught on like wildfire, and now with DSLRs capable of creating HDR images automatically, it’s time to revisit this hot trend


This Article Features Photo Zoom

Issues With Tone Mapping
The main issue is noise. You can use the Shadows and Highlights Smoothing option in Photomatix to smooth out some of the noise, then clean up the remaining in Photoshop. Generally, it’s best not to use high ISO. Anything over ISO 400 will be incredibly noisy.

Another problem is that sometimes Photomatix can create patches of light and dark. I’m unsure why this occurs, but with careful dodging and burning in Photoshop, it can be fixed. Halo effects around buildings and people can occur, too. This also can be fixed with the Highlight Smoothing or by adjusting the luminosity. For some reason, whites can turn gray. Fluffy white clouds can become fluffy gray clouds.

Conclusion
For me, HDR is about capturing a scene as I remember it and then processing it to allow the viewer to see and feel things as I did. If I see a fantastic-looking building with stunning light, I can use HDR to grab as much detail as possible from that scene. I’ll tone-map it in a certain way to create a dramatic image and use Photoshop to finalize that image.

My aim is to make the person looking at the image go, “Wow,” just as I did when I was there. For others, HDR simply can be about creating a more balanced exposure. It can be handy for architectural photographers to allow them to shoot interiors without losing detail in the highlights.

The software is out there now. You can increase your camera’s dynamic range easily and cheaply. I don’t see HDR as a fad that will go away in six months. It has been around for more than 10 years now and will continue to be developed. I’ll continue to use it in my photography, both commercially and with fine art. Photography is all about capturing light. HDR just gives you more to play with.

Pete Carr is a Liverpool, UK-based photographer and one of the leading specialists in HDR photography. You can see more of his work at www.petecarr.net.


 

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