HDR UNCOVERED: A SIMPLE TUTORIAL FOR THE NEW AND CURIOUS
If you’ve spent anytime pursuing the photography circles of Google+ or Flickr, you more than likely have come across the enigmatic term “HDR”. Maybe you don’t know the first thing about HDR and want to know more, or maybe you’ve learned to recognize HDR images by their unique quality and are interested in creating your own HDR photos. In either case, you’ve come to the right place.
What is HDR photography?
HDR means ‘High Dynamic Range’. HDR images are created by combining a series of images with different exposures, and then adjusting contrast ratios to produce images that represent more accurately the range of intensity levels found in real scenes. Non-HDR images are taken at a single exposure level with a limited contrast range. This results in the loss of detail in bright or dark areas of a picture.
The goal of HDR photography is to capture a scene as the human brain remembers it. The human eye is an incredibly powerful organ that is capable of adjusting levels of light across a scene, creating a fully exposed image in your memory. As you are standing in front of a beautiful sunset, your eye is capable of processing not only the light from the sun as it reflects off the clouds, but it can also see a fully exposed foreground. Cameras, on the other hand, can only capture a single exposure. Either the sky will be correctly exposed and the foreground is under-exposed and dark, or the foreground is exposed and the sky is the over-exposed and blown out. So in a sense, HDR attempts to capture a scene in its entirety, rather than a single moment in time.
People seem to either love or hate HDR photography. Some “purists” dislike HDR, but most people find nicely-processed HDR images to be beautiful and compelling. My goal is to create images that make people feel good while staying as true as possible to the photographed scene as I remember it. If you’re one those folks who like HDR images and want to learn more about the process, please read on.
Here is the photo we will be working on in this tutorial:
Let’s get started!