Monday, September 22, 2008

High Dynamic Range Photography

The latest thing in photo imaging is "high dynamic range" (HDR). This includes a variety of techniques to bring out the details in shadows and highlights throughout the whole photo. Nothing is washed out by too much light and nothing is lost in the shadows.

HDR images are a little disconcerting at first because we are used to seeing photos in a more limited range. HDR is a bit more like seeing with our own eyes because our eyes adjust to dark and light relatively quickly so that we see more details in shadows and highlights than conventional films can provide.

In the city scene to the left, for example, we would expect to be able to see either the colored lights with the rest of the image in darkness or the rest of the image visible with the colored lights pretty much washed out.

Similarly, in the sunset photo to the right, we would usually be able to only see the sun and sky with the rest of the landscape in silhouette. With a technology so new, we can expect to go through a period of time with people telling us why they don't like it and, in a few years, finding that we really appreciate being able to see everything in those holiday photos that, in the past, were either too bright or too dark in half the picture.

Digital photography has opened the door to HDR imaging (HDRI) and we can expect to see more and more of it in ads, magazines, movies and TV.

Click on the heading above to see a tutorial on creating HDR images with Photmatix.

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