HDR Photography, or High Dynamic Range photography, is a specialist form of imaging which creates intense images. HDR can be used to create a stronger level of realism, bringing out starlight, brighter colors, and more contrast.
How Does HDR Photography Work
None-HDR photography (traditional photography) involves taking a single photograph at a single exposure level and with only a small contrast range. This kind of photography leads to a loss of detail, especially in parts of the macro photo which are either very dark or very bright. In contrast, HDR Photography usually involves taking several photographs at different exposure levels and putting them together to create an image that is more detailed than any single image.
HDR photography, if taken to extremes, can create exaggerated images. This technique is often used in art and in illustrations for book covers and magazines.
The History of HDR
HDR photography is not actually a new illustrative technique. Gustave Le Gray used a technique similar to HDR photography in the 1850s to correct images which were taken with too much luminance. When taking photographs of seascapes, he used one image for the sky and another for the land, and combined the images to produce a clear, attractive photograph.
By the 1950s, several prominent photographers were using similar techniques. A single HDR image could take as long as five days to produce, but the level of accuracy and tonal representation was incredible, especially when compared to standard photographs from the era.
Today, it is easy to produce HDR images in most illustration packages. Adobe PhotoShop CS2 added the ability for users to select multiple photographs and “Merge to HDR”. The images must be identical in all respects except for exposure, however this can easily be achieved as long as the camera is in a fixed position or on a Tripod.