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About HDR Photography
HDR is a great, fun, new way to take photos and capture the world around you. This page will answer some of the basic questions and tendrils will drift off to other areas of the site that may interest you.
A sample HDR Image that shows off the sort of vibrancy and sense of living texture you can achieve with this technique.
How to HDR photography
“Anyone can do this!” This is what I always tell people when I speak at universities, photo clubs, seminars, and the like, and I mean it! I am very open about my process, and I made a free HDR Tutorial here on StuckInCustoms.com that describes the step by step process. If you’d like to get in deeper, I also have a bunch of videos available for download at the Complete HDR Tutorial link.
What is HDR Photography?
HDR is short for High Dynamic Range. It is a post-processing task of taking either one image or a series of images, combining them, and adjusting the contrast ratios to do things that are virtually impossible with a single aperture and shutter speed.
An HDR image is commonly made by taking three photos of the same scene, each at different shutter speeds. The result is a bright, medium, and dark photo, based on the amount of light that got through the lens. A software process then combines all the photos to bring details to the shadows and highlights both. This helps to achieve the same task in the final photograph that the human eye can accomplish on the scene.
I would say that about 75% of my images use the technique, and if you are new to it, then you may notice a slightly different “look and feel” to the photographs. There are all kinds of nerdy technical things I can say about HDR, but in case you are like me, you can learn best by example. I posted a bunch of my HDR photos below.
To me, the HDR process helps the photos look more… let’s say… evocative.
I can talk a little bit more about the philosophy behind the photography style here for a quick moment. You might consider that the way the human brain keeps track of imagery is not the same way your computer keeps track of picture files. There is not one aperture, shutter speed, etc. In fact, sometimes when you are in a beautiful place or with special people and you take photos — have you ever noticed when you get back and show them to people you have to say, “Well, you really had to be there.” Even great photographers with amazing cameras can only very rarely grab the scene exactly as they saw it. Cameras, by their basic-machine-nature, are very good at capturing “images”, lines, shadows, shapes — but they are not good at capturing a scene the way the mind remembers and maps it. When you are actually there on the scene, your eye travels back and forth, letting in more light in some areas, less light in others, and you create a “patchwork-quilt” of the scene. Furthermore, you will tie in many emotions and feelings into the imagery as well, and those get associated right there beside the scene. Now, you will find that as you explore the HDR process, that photos can start to evoke those deep memories and emotions in a more tangible way. It’s really a wonderful way of “tricking” your brain into experiencing much more than a normal photograph.
What kind of camera do you need to make HDR Photos?
Really, the hardware does not matter… The bulk of the look comes from the software process, as described in the aforementioned tutorial.
You can go to my Camera Equipment page to see what I use.
Some eBooks on HDR Photography
I’ve also written a series of books on photography. You can find those over at my sister site at FlatBooks.com.
Sample HDR Photos
Here are a few photos I’ve made over the years that are good illustrations of the technique. You can see more on at my Portfolio. I make a new one every day here on the home page at StuckInCustoms.com, so you are welcome to come back regularly.