What is HDR??

I recently opened an account on Panoramio in order to get some of my photos in Google Earth. When browsing Panoramio I have noticed quite a few landscape images that appear, for lack of better wording, "not real". They seem to be enhanced with computer graphics or drawings. I started looking over comments for these images and a few people mentioned that they thought the image was HDR. I had never heard of this term so I set out to find the term, examples, and how its done....

A cokin sunset by Murtasma on Flickr  http://www.flickr.com/photos/murtasma/730847627/ 

I found a great site- Smashing Magazine- that has their top 35 HDR photos. Really great range if you are interested in what HDR can look like across the board. http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/03/10/35-fantastic-hdr-pictures/

I came across this wonderful article "A Plea for HDR" by Alexandre Buisse (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/hdr-plea.shtml) on luminous-landscape.com and was pleased to read that HDR does not always need to appear CG'd. Buisse had plenty of images that were HDR which appeared to simply be High Resolution, they didn't really appear doctored, they just looked beautiful. Buisse goes into much more detail in the article and even offers suggestions, directions, and do's and dont's of HDR processing....

"HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and refers to a post-processing method which allows to dramatically increase the dynamic range of a photograph by merging different exposures of a same scene...On a scene where the contrast is so intense that both highlights record as pure white and shadows as pure black (i.e. where the dynamic range of the sensor is too low to properly record the scene), its effect will be to darken highlights and brighten shadows so that details can be retained in each area. " (reference to link above, by A. Buisse)

"To create an HDR image, one needs a set of bracketed images (i.e. of captures of the same scene with different exposure compensations) and dedicated software...The problem with HDR is that by default, it looks artificial and ugly, and it takes some work to bring it back to something believable." (reference to link above, by A. Buisse)

**these images are not my own, they are taken from Panoramio with credits given and linked**

Berliner Dom- by  >| Micha |<  Google Earth [?] - ID: 31068333

-This is a nice image however it looks to me like it is almost a painting or computer graphics rather than a photograph.

Going Nowhere Fast by JeffSullivan(MyPhoto…  Google Earth [?] - ID: 4809439

-This image is obviously doctored, however the editing seems to have given the image a more artsy feel rather than just a simple photograph. HDR as an artistic tool? Looking at this image I would say so!

Le Crac Des chevaliers   by Virus90  Google Earth [?] - ID: 4191804 

-This image is obviously processed. Personally, I would say it was processed too much but that really depends on personal tastes. This image really shows how HDR  photography captures both the whitest whites and the blackest blacks in the same image and how that range can appear unnatural, visually. Notice that this image also has Halo-ish/spotlight looking light streaming in from the windows in the back, a common giveaway for an HDR image.

So apparently, done correctly, HDR is a wonderful landscape tool if used correctly as well as an artistic touch if wanted, one which I would like to try sometime!


Rose said...

kudos on you new blogging :) love all the information and use of GOOGLE :) this HDR concept is crazy weird.

Holly said...

It looks like a dream world, everything is too vivid to be real. The first one looks like you could float through and not even have to touch the ground. I think I'm not a big fan. What's the point of it being a photo if it looks like a painting? Not to say I don't enjoy it at all!
P.S. I love the new banner picture thing! It's one of yours, yeah?

bridget said...

Wow, the HDR is amazing stuff. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

BECKY said...

HDR is pretty amazing but I agree with you Holly, I am not really a fan. I like the HDR photos that look just a little artistic... The ones that make you really sit and think about if it's real or not. But the ones like that last one just make me feel like I'm living in the Matrix or something.... :)
Thanks for banner comment Holly, it is a cropped version of one of my pics!

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