HDR: high dynamic range photography

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
Over within another thread, a discussion has cropped up about HDR, prompted by one of Peter's photographs. In the brief give and take, I noticed that John had very helpfully posted including a link to Scott Bourne's blog post on photofocus.com and I thought I'd quote John here (thank you John!) and start off a discussion thread for those who might be interested in learning more about HDR.

I posted the following over at mu-43s recently in an HDR discussion thread. I have read several other photography pundits say the same thing that the debate is internal among photographers and that outside that circle, their customers like HDR and want more.

Photog Scott Bourne at photofocus.com had a blog post in the recent past about HDR...

I’m No Trey Ratcliff But Here’s My Basic HDR Primer « Photofocus

The post is a basic primer on HDR, but his last paragraph contains his subjective views on HDR. I personally think that it can be effective if not overdone, but do I do believe Scott Bourne's observations are probably valid and HDR is not going away especially as it now appearing as a built-in option in some of the newer cameras now hitting the market. The referenced paragraph is...

HDR is a controversial subject in the photo community. Just as the jump from B&W to color was controversial; Just as the jump from film to digital was controversial; Just as the use of filters and plugins was controversial; So is HDR – but note I said IN THE PHOTO COMMUNITY. Outside the photo community, there is no controversy. People LOVE looking at HDR photos. So if you think you’d like to try your hand at it, don’t be put off by the controversy. Go for it and have fun. HDR is a great way to retune your eye and your photography.
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
HDR is a controversial subject in the photo community. Just as the jump from B&W to color was controversial; Just as the jump from film to digital was controversial; Just as the use of filters and plugins was controversial; So is HDR – but note I said IN THE PHOTO COMMUNITY. Outside the photo community, there is no controversy. People LOVE looking at HDR photos.
You're absolutely right, it's endemic only within the photographic community. It's like kennel cough that spreads only amongst canines in the same neighbourhood.

For the sake of correctness I feel that I should point out that the current M mount 12mm Voigtlander lens will take 67mm filters, my original screw mount had a removable filter adapter, I purchased mine second hand and the adapter was not with it. Likewise the current 15mm Voigtlander lens takes 52mm lenses, my second hand screw version had no such provision.
Actually for the sake of full disclosure, I should note that I am a beginner to all this, hence I didn't know and/or should've known.

Because it is too easy to use it to excess. There are too many HDR shots out there that want to make my eyes bleed.
Could you post some links? I'd like to see these.
 

grebeman

Old Codgers Group
Actually for the sake of full disclosure, I should note that I am a beginner to all this, hence I didn't know and/or should've known.
Traam, please don't assume there was any implied criticism in my comment. I realise that it was expressed in rather cold, matter of fact terms but it was really posted so that anyone else reading the thread would be updated as to the current status of the lenses mentioned.

If any offence was taken I do apologise, non was meant.

Barrie
 

TraamisVOS

Hall of Famer
Nov 29, 2010
124
Melbourne, Australia
Traam, please don't assume there was any implied criticism in my comment. I realise that it was expressed in rather cold, matter of fact terms but it was really posted so that anyone else reading the thread would be updated as to the current status of the lenses mentioned.

If any offence was taken I do apologise, non was meant.

Barrie
Barrie nooooooooo not at all, really. No offence taken at all, in fact I was slapping my forehead saying to myself: "d'oh, but I knew that!" :)
 

olli

Super Moderator Emeritus
Sep 28, 2010
123
Sofia, Bulgaria
olli
There are two kinds of HDR. There is HDR (or exposure fusion) to compensate for the inability of sensors to match the capabilities of the human eye. The end result of this kind of HDR or EF should be something that looks relatively natural and that doesn't advertise the fact that it is an HDR shot. The other kind is the HDR shot used artistically to create a whole new kind of image. It is these that are the more popular and that are more divisive. I prefer the former approach but its all a matter of taste. The B&W approach is interesting because it takes the over saturated colours our of the equation which is one of the reasons some HDR really doesn't appeal to me.

The shot below is a before and after - the after is done using exposure fusion in Photomatix and then processed in LR.

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
 

texascbx

Veteran
Jul 10, 2010
103
Canton Texas
Ricky
I like HDR shots as long as they don't crank up saturation so much. I see people posting their shots with those halos everywhere and still people say they look good. There is a member over at SIMHQ that posts regularly in the photo section and his HDR shots are the best, bar none, I've ever seen. They are simply amazing. If you are interested in aircraft, he has images that will blow you away and he does it without creating those halos. He goes by Counterman.

Warthog Revisited - SimHQ Forums
 

texascbx

Veteran
Jul 10, 2010
103
Canton Texas
Ricky
Yes, he knows how to produce a true HDR image. He has some pics of a P-51 Mustang that is all polished up and they are incredible.
 

mmacleodbrown

Regular
Oct 10, 2010
43
London
Personally Im in the minority here, I really like most of the HDR images I have seen, from subtle to OTT. I saw one a while back that was so overdone it looked like a Van Gogh painting - I thought it was really cool.
I have never understood why it was so contoversial to be honest, it is no worse than using photoshop to alter or improve an image, yet no-one moans about that..

That's my tuppence worth!
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
I like HDR shots as long as they don't crank up saturation so much. I see people posting their shots with those halos everywhere and still people say they look good. There is a member over at SIMHQ that posts regularly in the photo section and his HDR shots are the best, bar none, I've ever seen. They are simply amazing. If you are interested in aircraft, he has images that will blow you away and he does it without creating those halos. He goes by Counterman.

Warthog Revisited - SimHQ Forums
Wow, he really does have some great images.

Here's a link to his HDR work.
They are fantastic!

And Olli, I think your tone mapped version looks really nice. I'd never ever consider that some sort of HDR or anything like it had been going on.

I know virtually nothing about this stuff.


Personally Im in the minority here, I really like most of the HDR images I have seen, from subtle to OTT. I saw one a while back that was so overdone it looked like a Van Gogh painting - I thought it was really cool.
I have never understood why it was so contoversial to be honest, it is no worse than using photoshop to alter or improve an image, yet no-one moans about that..

That's my tuppence worth!
I can definitely see where you're coming from. Hey, it's different strokes for different folks. If someone doesn't like "it", they don't have to look at it.:wink:
 
Thanks BB for starting this thread. I had been thinking of doing something for another forum - but hey - this one's nicer. :wink:

I will put together some stuff soon but am rather pre-occupied with thinking what to do photographically on the weekend for my 52/2011 exercise in AusPhotography plus trying to oranise short-term and longer-term shoots including a biggie in April.

Anyway, I cannot spend the time doing anything while I am at work (where I am now) earning money to buy the next lens etc.

Back soon.
 
Just playing around with some of my photos from Wollongong last Tuesday. This is a fairly conventional looking shot and probably not immediately obvious as a HDR image.

The time is pre-sunrise shot before the sky started to lighten up. The colour in the sky is from the light pollution of the steelworks and Wollongong city. See if you can spot the ghost images of the fisherman.

#4.5.1

Pre-dawn Wollongong from the Ladies Baths by peterb666, on Flickr

The HDR is made of 3 images of 60, 30 and 15 seconds at f/11 and ISO200. I have adjusted the images for horizon, exposure, colour balance (approximately) and added some minor sharpening, lens corrections and that sort of stuff in Adobe Camera Raw before exporting them as uncompressed TIFFs.

While you can process HDR images from RAW, I find I have more control if I do my main adjustments first and let the HDR software just worry about fusing the images and then I select the degree of enhancement required.

The objectives of the HDR processing were:

  • Get some shadow detail from the rocks
  • Limit the effects blown out lights
  • Keep maximum detail in the sky

For HDR processing, I used Photomatix Pro 4.0.2. This is a recent upgrade of the product and now gives you thumbnail previews of the various pre-set processing options. Quite neat and it saves a lot of time. Pick the closest and then just make minor adjustments (if required).

The processing option I chose was "Fusion Default". After saving, again as a 16-bit uncompressed TIFF file to retain good image quality, off to Picasa for the final crop, a little sharpening and then resizing for upload to the Internet.

In the end, I have got a reasonably good rendition of my perception of the scene.

The whole process from beginning to end took less than 5 minutes and avoided one of my layer botch jobs in CS5.
 

Djarum

All-Pro
Jul 10, 2010
123
Huntsville, AL
Jason
I really have no issues with HDR per-se. I take it on an image by image basis. Usually I find many HDR images are over saturated or extremely flat when it comes to contrast. Images still need shadows and bright areas I fell to make them pop. If all the shadows are opened up and all the highlights are toned down, the image seems lifeless in many cases.
 

Otto

Regular
Jan 3, 2011
43
Forney, TX
Yes, he knows how to produce a true HDR image. He has some pics of a P-51 Mustang that is all polished up and they are incredible.
Yes, those are very nice. I like most forms of HDR work. Like anything, it's not all done well.

Do you know if he explains his workflow anywhere?

Thanks,
 

pictor

All-Pro
Jul 14, 2010
124
Yesterday I bought Photomatix. This is a fine piece of software. I am aiming at naturally looking pictures, since my goal is to overcome the restrictions of digital cameras regarding dynamic range. I have done one HDR now and the result looks promising. Of course, I have to learn how to apply this technique better than I can do at the moment, but even my first HDR shows, what is possible with a compact like the Canon G12.

This is a normally processed photograph:



This is a HDR consisting of three exposures:



I used tone mapping. One can see easily that the lights are not blown out any more and that there are much more details in the shadow. There are a lot of details in the wood, too, more than the single shot shows, but one cannot see that in such small images. There is virtually no noise, much less noise than in the single shot. I used a tripod for all shots.
 

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