Wednesday, June 22, 2011

HDR - High Dynamic Range

For the uninitiated, this is a style of photography where the artist takes several shots of exactly the same scene, just varying the shutter speed. So you get a series of shots, some over-exposed, some close to perfectly exposed, some under-exposed. You can use as few as two or three shots to create an hdr image - the maximum number depends on your computer's fortitude! Then you layer the images over each other to create the high dynamic range photograph.

The theory is that an hdr photo will include much more detail than a regular photo, particulary in tricky lighting conditions (eg: very bright sky/water and shadowed hillsides in the same photo).

The technique can be used with a heavier hand to create an other-worldly effect, or with subtlety to bring out a great deal of detail.

Yesterday evening I was at the shore of Lake Windermere at about 7.30pm, so I snagged the opportunity to try my first hdr series - 23 photo's. Here's the result of my first creation of a true hdr image through Photoshop CS5:

Through the magic of Photoshop, you can create the hdr "look" with one photo, like I did here (this photo is from the tiny village of Yahk, which is just north of the US border in SE British Columbia):

I'd really appreciate opinions, tips, etc, from all my visitors, both my fellow NYIPers as well as friends and family!


  1. I love both shots, the first one almost looks like a painting. Did you use the same technique with the second one too? It reminds me a lot of Alaska ( that's where my husband is from)....

  2. Tanya,
    I couldn't find an email, so I'm writing here. I want to ask you- how much do you pay for your website, and also did you take the Photoshop course with NYIP or how did you learn it? I have CS2 and I'm thinking that eventually I'll have to upgrade if I want to go somewhere with photography. Thanks a lot!
    If you don't want to reply here, you can email me at :

  3. Hi Marinela!

    Thanks for visiting my blog, and having a look at my efforts!

    No, the techniques were very different for the two photo's. The first is a true hdr because it's composed of 23 different exposures of the same scene. The second photo is a single-shot that's been processed in CS5 to look like an hdr.

    Which website are you referring to?

    The blog - free.

    Smugmug - U$150/year (less per year if you pay in advance for more than one year, I think) plus 15% of the mark-up on any sales of my images.

    It sounds like a lot but you get a lot for your money ... upload as many photo's as you want, create and customize your own website through their system using either one of their url's with your name in it, or your own url, use of their sales/printing/delivery/payment system, and 24/7/365 outstanding customer service. You can probably get a free 14 day trial of the Pro version, which is what I did to see if I liked it.

    If you'd like to sign up with Smugmug after the trial period, use this code to get a discount: wTckVQKUlk6Xg

    No, I didn't take the NYIP course ... I have CS5 and spent the first six months feeling my own way around it. I've picked up a few things but I know there's so much more power in the program that I want to know about. I'm currently taking an introductory CS5 course online (so you can take it from anywhere) through the College of the Rockies. C$129 for 12 lessons over six weeks.

    Hope this helps!


  4. I've yet to try my hand at HDR, but your inspiring me to give it a go.

    I can see in the top photo where you've been able to preserve a lot of detail in the highlights, especially with the brilliant bright clouds reflecting in the water. It looks like something very close to how the human eye sees those colors. The image itself feels like it was taken on a lazy, late summer day. I like how it invokes those emotions.

    I like the subject a lot in the Photoshop version, and I like how crisp and clear it it.

  5. Thanks for visiting, Lynda! Yes, that's exactly what it was, a late summer (as much as we can call this "season" this year!) afternoon/early evening!

  6. Thanks Tanya,
    Very helpful information, I am far by selling my prints- hopefully it will happen one day- I still have a lot to learn. As far as photoshop, I know I have to dig in seriously one day...