Saturday, January 21, 2012

I Admit It, I like HDR

HDR Reveals Detail in the Shadows, Kauai Ficus Tree
This is What My Eyes Saw; the Camera Couldn't See it All in One Exposure
HDR Image of Ficus Tree, Kauai, Hawaii
Lumix DMC-LX5, iso80, 35mm equiv full-frame focal length
Three exposures, processed with Nik HDR Efex Pro
High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a technique that combines brightness levels from multiple images of the same scene, to produce a single image with a wider apparent dynamic range, which means that details are not lost in shadows or very bright areas.  Used correctly, it can reveal detail that is visible to the human eye, but not within the capture range of a camera sensor.
HDR is frequently over-used and over-processed, which can lead to a very artificial look.  If that's what the photographer intended, okay.  But, in many cases, it just looks like someone went on a trip to computer game animation world.
Here is a nice online article from Peter Tellone on the B&H Photo blog:
I learned about HDR in an excellent workshop at a Leica Historical Society of America (LHSA) meeting.  Our instructor, Dr. Stephen Wright, did a great job of demonstrating the technique.  The LHSA is probably not the most technically progressive group in the world; they tend toward more traditional approaches and fewer buttons and controls.  However, many of us saw HDR as an extension of what the best cameras can provide.
If you are interested, the software I use is Nik Efex Pro.  It is available at Amazon:
I hope you will find this useful.  HDR really can make a challenging, high contrast lighting situation into something you'll be proud to show.  Just don't overdo it!