HDR High Dynamic Range Photography

Do you ever wonder why you can’t quite capture with your camera the same “wow” you saw with your eyes? Sometimes I wish my eyes were a camera! But a digital camera cannot capture the full dynamic range of luminance that the eye can see. But there is a solution: a HDR, or high dynamic range, image shows a greater range between the lightest and the darkest areas of an image in a high contrast scene.

Some scenes lend themselves to HDR and others do not. Let’s say you have a scene where if you expose one part correctly another will be blown out, but if you expose the light part correctly your darks will be too dark to see detail. Also, we’ll assume a flash will not help this predicament. Or that you do not have one (HDR is an alternative to expensive lighting equipment). This is an example of where HDR imaging can be effective.

To create a HDR image, you actually need multiple images. The simplest way to achieve this is to use the auto exposure bracketing feature on your camera. Or you can meter and change your settings for each part of the scene. Make sure to use a tripod. Take a few, or more, pictures of the scene at different exposures. The goal is to have exposures with each part of the scene properly exposed. Then, using a photo editing program, you merge the images creating a picture with a high dynamic range – HDR. There is a feature in Photoshop for creating these images. Another program, Photomatix Pro, makes the process even simpler.

This is just one more option to have in your bag of tricks when it comes to turning images from snapshots into artwork!