The photo below was taken on a business trip to Boulder, CO last summer. That trip was my real initiation into the divine world of High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. I had begun to explore it’s capabilities and showed some early examples in this post. But with the CO scenery and the time constraints I was under – this trip firmly established HDR in my photographic repertoire.
There is no way I could have captured the detail found in the photo above of Lily lake without using HDR. Here’s another example of a photo with detail that could not be captured in a single exposure.
This photo was taken at Goose Pond Keene, NH. I’ve cut a portion of the three exposures that were used to create this HDR photo. The leftmost panel below is what would have resulted from a single exposure. Note the sky is completely blown-out with no detail remaining.
The middle panel shows the underexposed (2-stops) bracket that retains detail in the sky while the rightmost panel shows the overexposed bracket that contributes to shadow detail.
Some recent camera models include in-camera HDR capabilities. Our Canon 5D Mark III does. The photo below shows how our camera combined those same three brackets
The first photo of Goose Pond was created using Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 – a Lightroom and Photoshop plug-in that offers a wide variety of choices from surrealistic to realistic renditions as shown in the HDR photo of Jeremiah below.
The panels below show another example of in-camera vs. Nik HDR rendered. The Nik version (right hand panel) clearly did a better job of capturing detail in the cloud and bringing out detail in the shadow regions. By the way, Nik was recently bought by Google so this advanced HDR capability will likely soon be available at little to no cost.
There is another issue with the in-camera HDR option. If anything in the frame is moving between exposures, blending those exposures will reveal motion “smear” as shown in the left panel below
Nik HDR software has an algorithm that detects motion between frames and makes corrections to ensure there is no smear. You can see the result in the right hand panel which was rendered using Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.
HDR is here to stay. It brings new capabilities and even creates new opportunities such as shooting in full sun as shown in the photo of Dog Lake in Yosemite.
Be sure to check your camera for its HDR capabilities. If your camera doesn’t offer HDR processing and you’d like to learn how to create HDR photos in post processing just drop us a comment below and we’ll cover it in a future Tuesday Photo Tip. HDR imaging, try it – you’ll like it.
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