HDR Photography

High Dynamic Range photography is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some of the better photographers I know rather look down their nose at it, in a snooty, British sort of way. But it can produce some spectacular images, if the subject is suitable, and if the application of the HDR software is done just right. If not it can look plain ghastly. The photography equivalent of vomit.

The idea is to take three photos of a scene/object/person, each at a different exposure level, and then merge them into a single image, which brings out the full range of highlights and detail. It can be done with a single photo with a lot of HDR software packages these days.

I’ve just downloaded one of the free HDR apps available, AutoHDR, to give it a go. I have to confess, most of my HDR images in the past have fitted more into the vomit category. AutoHDR? Well some of the results I got are in the image below. Top left is the original. In the others I do see more noise than I’d like and not as much pop as I’d like. But that photo isn’t perhaps the best choice, and I’m sure using three photos would produce a much better result.

I’ve also given Photomatix a go, which is a neat little program, chiefly because it works as a Lightroom plug in. Which makes things that bit easier. Again, more noise than I’d like, although because I’ve shrunk the image to fit in a blog post, that isn’t so visible in the image below. I guess when you creat an HDR image from a single file, noise and image degradation is the price you pay.

But it does show what can be achieved. I’ll have to play around a bit and get some multiple images to blend together so as to do this HDR thing properly. I’ve assembled a Flickr Gallery of some HDR shots. Some of them are great. Or at least pretty good. Others are perfect demos of what happens when you overdo it!


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