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HDR Shots

A photo with High Dynamic Range (HDR) means that your image includes much more of what your eye saw. Details in deep shade and in the brightest light show up at the same time. Without HDR, cameras today will get maybe a third or less of what your eye sees.

Cathedral in Nurnburg

But… (isn’t there always a ‘but’?) you may still have to mess around a lot; both when you are taking your original shot and later, with software. In a few years, your camera will do all the work, and you’ll be able to post right to Facebook from your sea kayak in that lovely cave on the rugged coast of Crete. But not yet.

Looking out of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence

Another thing that HDR can help you do besides making an image ‘more real’ is to make it more artistic. Photographers like me, with delusions of grandeur, all want to be artistic as well as photo-realistic. It allows us to explain – at least to ourselves – all the money we spend on gear and gadgets.

The Bad News is that those in the stratosphere of HDR today spend a lot of time taking many, near-identical shots under precise conditions. And the result can be great. I do that often, even though I’m not a stratosphere-dweller.

The Good News is that it’s possible to take a single shot in RAW format (on a medium-fancy camera that allows you to shoot in RAW) and then use a Photoshop Plug-in to produce some good HDR work.

Ostia Antica, Outside Rome

All the photos in this post are single shots taken with a Nikon DSLR (the cheapest one is ~ $500) and edited with the HDR Efex Pro plug-in. Here and here and here are previous posts with single-shot HDR images.

If you are interested, some rewarding HDR fun is not out of reach for normal folks.
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  1. May 19, 2011 at 8:09 am

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