HDR Photography – How to?
High Dynamic Range, or HDR, is essentially a way of processing photos that allows for a wider and deeper range of colors. This type of processing makes an image appear much closer to what the human eye sees as opposed to what your camera’s sensor allows. In example, the photograph below (final HDR image) shows the natural rich colors of the house and the vehicles as well as the natural rich colors of the sky. Without HDR, the sky could either be over-exposed (brighter) and the house or vehicles under-exposed (darker), or the house or vehicles over-exposed (brighter) and the sky blown out with more light when the exposure is increased to make the foreground look brighetr. Creating an HDR photo however will allow both elements to appear natural and rich in color.
Making an HDR photograph
Making an HDR photograph nothing but to combine multiple images with different exposures together. Below are three images taken at different exposures (under-exposed, right-exposed and over-exposed). When all these three images are merged together, the result is what you can see in final image below.
How to merge?
Well, this is very interesting and more creative part of the HDR image processing. There are many different HDR softwares that are commercially available in the market. The best and the one that I use is Photomatix Pro fromHDRSoft. I think few free versions are also available although the quality is not guarenteed. Whatever you choose, when the images are merged using any software, the default look may not be very appealing or interesting sometimes. Creativity plays an important role here as to how the light, contrast and tonal adjustments should be made to a HDR image to make it a great looking shot.
Other useful tools
In some situation additional software such as Adjust from Topazlabs may be useful for making final adjustments but these are not absolutely essential as most of the things can also be done using Photoshop and other photo editing tools.
In order to merge and properly align the images using HDR software, make sure that you stand in one spot. I would advise to use camera’s auto bracketing mode with tripod instead of taking individual shots by hand. Please refer your camera manual before using this option.
There are plenty of free turorials available on the Internet to start learning about HDR photography. However, I recommend a book on HDR photography by Rick Sammon which I think a great reference.