High dynamic range imaging or HDR…what the heck is it?

Our Pacific Coast Buddy, Sherweld, not only surfaces after a month of AWOL but also supplies us with his version of “down and Dirty HDR”SOOCOur SOOC


Down & Dirty HDR from the same image.

Wikipedia defines HDR as

In image processing, computer graphics and photography, high dynamic range imaging (HDRI) is a set of techniques that allows a greater dynamic range of exposures (the range of values between light and dark areas) than normal digital imaging techniques. The intention of HDRI is to accurately represent the wide range of intensity levels found in real scenes ranging from direct sunlight to shadows.

One would think HDR is a new technique, but not so…but there have been photographers exploring the layering of different exposures since the 1930’s.  The advent of average joe’s like me who have photo processing software has produced this latest craze of everyone producing HDR images.

You can see some exaples on the  Flickr HDR pool. I will post a few here…

image courtesy of  rpeschetz

image courtesy of  Zé™

Image courtesy of simone.garza

HDR is not foer every image and it is the hot technique right now, but as you can see by combining more than one exposure and then process by using tone mapping one can salvage a difficult to shot lighting situation.

11 thoughts on “High dynamic range imaging or HDR…what the heck is it?

  1. So is HDR just bracketing on steroids? Is it a technique or do you use a separate piece of equipment?

    Also, I was at a wedding downtown last night and the photographer had two “cameras” around his neck.
    One looked like a regular SLR but the other had a rectangular “lens” on the front. The front was very flat and didn’t stick out the way a traditional lens would. I tried to corner him to ask him about it but was unsuccessful. I’m curious if this sounds familiar to any of you and if you know what type of camera this might have been?

  2. Brc, sounds like either just a run-of-the-mill rectangular filter mount, or possibly a large format camera. Many traditional wedding photographers still love their medium and large format gear.

  3. Brc…it is a combination of braketing for different exposures then combining the images for a supra image. One can also apply tone mapping to really bring out detail (as in some of the clouds above). There are some “recipes” and a software program out there to accomplish this effect. I have not as yet purposely taken three exposures (or) more of the same item yet, which is a manditory to really apply this effect.

    As you can tell, I am just learning about it myself…anyone else out there who knows HDR, dated HDR, sleeps with HDR, is married to HDR, please, please enlighten us!

  4. Hi Shrew …. just stopping by to see wassup. Been away from the web for a month, I like what you have been doing.
    For a HDR like effect from a single photo check out PHOTOSHOP USER Jan/Feb 08 page 052.

  5. What a difference. The detail and lighting is so much better in the HDR version. Thanks for sharing Sherweld!

    Have I mentioned that I don’t own Photoshop yet?

  6. Hut, was this what you did with one of Karen’s photos not too long ago that left us all in awe? I can’t remember which one it was now. A beach shot I think?

  7. I think I like parts of this effect in certain situations, but not all. For example, in that shot with the windmills, I don’t care for it – it made the shot looked, I don’t know, engraved or stamped or something. I do like the effect on the green leaves in the bridge shot though.
    Sherweld, I think your original image was so vivid, the HDR was almost redundant here!

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