The following post is one that I posted on my new photography blog Dick Stone Photography. Please visit and let me know what you think of some of the photos.
When I decided that I wanted to devote more time to the hobby of photography, I started to do a lot more reading on the subject. I was able to get a free subscription to Popular Photography magazine and I started to visit a lot of photography websites and forums. One of the things that I started to see a lot of was the subject of high dynamic range imagery, or HDR.
The idea behind HDR imagery is to process a photo with a greater range of colors to more closely represent a scene as scene by the human idea. In photos where there are a great deal of contrast, bright areas are often over exposed and shadow areas underexposed resulting in the loss of detail of those areas. HDR is designed to even those out and bring out the details in the entire scene.
On the surface that would seem to be a good thing. However, a major complaint of HDR is that a lot of photographers end up producing images that are not "realistic" and actually are more surrealistic. I decided that I want to explore HDR a little bit so I have downloaded a trial version of Photomatix Pro 4.0 to give it a try before I decide whether or not to dive in to HDR.
The first step is to photograph a scene multiple times and bracket the exposures. Then, all of those images are combined in the Photomatix software to come up with a final image. I decided to use the following photograph that I took on a walk around Allen Pond here in Bowie MD. This became my base photo at "normal" exposure.
Next, I create four more images by adjusting the exposure value (EV) in Lightroom 4. I created duplicate images at EVs of +1, +2, -1, and -2. I then imported all five of these images into the Photomatix software to come up with the image below.
You can see that the sky in the HDR photo is a bit darker and the clouds stand out a bit more. You can also see a lot more detail and brightness in the trees on the right side of the photo that were very dark in the original exposure. All in all, I am very happy with the results. Below, is another version of the photo using one of the more artistic presets in the software.
Obviously, this is more of an artistic interpretation. It is not something that I would do a lot of, but it is something that I would want to play around with every now and then to try to evoke a certain mood or feel. I will continue to experiment with the trial version of Photomatix until I decide on whether or not this is something I want to explore more fully.