If…How 32 bit images tell the whole story

If… your 32 bit image looks pretty good, most likely your scene did not need HDR

If …your 32 bit image looks really bad, chances are you captured a true High Dynamic Range scene

I don’t know how many of you stop Photomatics at the point when it creates a 32 Bit Image just before you go on to tone-mapping. If you don’t then maybe you should (it’s on the screen when you make your alignment and de-ghosting choices)

 The 32 bit image can really tell you a lot about what you captured and how in the end your image will turn out.

Here is a 32 bit image of 3 exposures +/- 2 and it is somewhat fitting. As you can see it doesn’t look too bad right now, but the final result really wasn’t that much different than the 0 exposure.







While on the other hand, this 32 bit image shows that there was in fact a wide dynamic range that could not be capture in one exposure.


















I’ll be back tomorrow with more on my Salton Sea shoot.

Hope that helps,







  1. Miguel Palaviccini January 10, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    Quick question: doesn’t your monitor only show you 8bits of the 32 bit image? So if it looks good on your monitor then it means that 8 bits was enough? Just curious, since I’m not sure about it.

    • Peter January 10, 2012 at 8:44 am #

      That’s correct Miguel, Most Monitors are 8 bit with a few igh ened models for video production being 10 bit. The better ones have a dynamic range of about 1000:1. So if our 32bit image si clearly visible, we probably are not much past that 1000:1 DR. and probably didn’t need to do HDR in the first place.

      This is the essence of why we Tone Map images, To compress them to a point that is visible on Current Monitors and in in Print. Butwe must first capture that high dynamic range in order to get a usable HDR Tone Mapped Image