What is HDR?

HDR – High Dynamic Range Imagery or Photography.

The human eye has a sensitivity to light from dark to bright, so does a camera. The human eye however is about 10 times more sensitive to that “Dynamic Range” than most cameras can capture. And in nature the dynamic range of light can be 100 times more than a camera can capture. So what we as humans can see is not always what our cameras may be able to capture.

When we take a photograph it is, in a lot of instances, a compromise. In an instance of great dynamic range, more than our camera is capable of, we usually have to make a choice. Expose for the highlights or brightest part of the scene and therefore most likely plunging the darker areas into pure black or the noise floor of our cameras.

Or we can elect to expose for the shadow area and “Blowout” or loose all the detail in the bright areas.

But what if we could make a separate exposure for every lightness value of our scene? What if we could take one image for the highlights, one image to perfectly expose the mid-tones and one image to get a just right exposure for the darkest areas of our scene. Or even more images? That is the essence of High Dynamic Range Imagery.

How we do this is,we shoot 3 or more images all at different exposures and then use powerful software to combine those images into a High Dynamic Range image. Now the only problem is, that High Dynamic Range image is not viewable nor printable on any present day device. So we again use powerful software to ” Tone Map” that High Dynamic Range Image into a Standard Dynamic Range image. We essentially compress that high range image into one viewable and printable by today’s devices.

Thus we now have, what should be, a photograph that represents what our eyes would have seen in those conditions that were present when we shot. No more compromises

Now go to the “How To” page and learn how to do it yourself!