HDR – What is it, and why should I care?

Tower Bridge Sacramento, California

Have you ever taken a picture at the beach at sunset, hoping to capture a great sunset, only to be disappointed that the sunset was OK, but the water, sand, and shore details were too dark.  Or, did you want to get that full moon with the mountain trees showing the snow but either the moon was over exposed or the trees were too dark? How about that photo of your family in the redwoods  that shows them fine, but didn’t expose the magnificent trees enough for any detail. What you needed was to use the techniques of High Dynamic Range, or HDR.

Essentially, HDR compensates for this loss of detail by taking multiple pictures at different exposure levels and intelligently stitching them together so that we eventually arrive at a picture that is representative in both dark and bright areas. The technique has become very popular lately with supporting software products like Adobe Photoshop CS5 and CS6,  Photomatix Pro, Nik HDR EFEX Pro software, and others.  Also, now many new cameras have incorporated automatic HDR features  (e.g. Nikon D5100, D800, Sony a65, a77). Uwe Steinmueller is an expert in the technique is teaching an HDR class here at Keeble & Shuchat on June 16.

We also stock many HDR titles in our book department such as: Practical HDR by Jack Howard,  Mastering HDR Photography by Michael Freeman, The HDR Book by Rafael Concepcion, Understanding HDR Photography by David Taylor and A World in HDR by Trey Ratcliff.