"The illiterate of the future will be the person ignorant of the use of the camera as well as of the pen." -Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1936

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Photo Journal/Exercise 6 (Photo-DI): High Dynamic Range (HDR) Photography

Now moving fast from the past to the future in the second digital imaging exercise.... it's HDR Photography!

Dynamic Range
or HDR photography has been a popular technique since the emergence of digital cameras. It is a technique where 3 or more different exposures of the same picture are taken and merged or composited together to show each photo’s best detailed areas and give the maximum range of details and “information” from the darkest to the lightest parts (dynamic range) in “one” photo.

It is closer or even higher than the dynamic range of the human eyes, where for a digital camera can only capture a third of our dynamic range in a single shot. The result image of a HDR photo in general looks very sharp with long depth of field, clearly detailed in the darkest to lightest areas, and has a wider range of colors, often resembling to contemporary hyperrealistic paintings. It seems “more real” than reality. Even though it is close to our eyes’ dynamic range, HDR photo somehow seems to show an “enhanced” reality or a clearer reality. This is the purpose of the exercise, which is to show such capabilities in digital photography and imaging, and how you can explore such hyperrealism. This is truly an experiment that has been impossible to capture using only traditional photographic methods.

Approximate exposure ranges of photographic capture and storage media. From top to bottom: Finished Print, Computer Monitor, Transparency Film, Digital Camera, Negative Film, Normal Human Vision, HDR Image.

For examples of HDR photos, you can go to Flickr and type in "HDR", or click here, or join one of the HDR groups

HDR photos are multi-exposure blended photos taken at a constant aperture setting with different shutter speeds and then blended into High Dynamic Range images with either Photoshop or another great program specially made for HDR called Photomatix. You can download the free trial here.

After generating your HDR composite, there is a process called Tone Mapping, where you are converting from a 32-bit image into a lower 16-bit or 8-bit image, this can be done also in Photoshop or in Photomatix.

Now, instead of rewriting or RSS feeding the full techniques here, I'll give you some links that are very good in giving directions on how to make HDR photos:
- How to Create Professional HDR Images
- The Definitive Guide to Realistic High Dynamic Range Images
- Modern HDR photography, a how-to or Saturday morning relaxation (has a complete explanation about HDRi)
- HDR Tutorial: How to create ‘High Dynamic Range’ images using Photomatix

The exercise is to create your HDR photograph by using 3 or more exposures. Try 5 or even 7. You could either use Photoshop or Photomatix-and-Photoshop. Any software you like.
Turn in and show your multiple exposures and your final HDR photo result.

Take a peek at:
- www.360icon.com
- www.panoguide.com
- High Impact Photography with Panoramics