HDR SE­CRETS

Re­vealed: the key to do­ing HDR well

NPhoto - - Front Page -

Judg­ing from N-Photo’s in­box, HDR (high dy­namic range) images are still pretty popular. When you set the ex­po­sure for an im­age, it’s of­ten some­thing of a sac­ri­fi­cial process: with a high-con­trast land­scape, for ex­am­ple, you get the sky right and the ground is un­der-ex­posed, or the fore­ground is bright but the sky is washed out. HDR solves this by merg­ing mul­ti­ple shots of the same scene. This can be done sub­tly, or to the ex­tremes that we of­ten see, with strong grain and high con­trast.

In or­der to make an HDR im­age you’ll need a set of pho­tos of the same sub­ject, taken with a tri­pod and brack­eted to get dif­fer­ent ex­po­sures. They should be taken in RAW, as JPEGs will not hold the level of de­tail re­quired.

Pho­to­shop fea­tures a tool that merges your images for you. Once they have been com­bined you can pro­ceed to add as much con­trast as you like, and es­sen­tially edit the im­age like any other, but mak­ing use of sig­nif­i­cantly more de­tail. There’s one thing to note: with up to 32 bits of bright­ness de­tail per pixel (as op­posed to un­der 16 bits), file sizes will be much larger than those of regular pho­tos. Let’s see how to make one…

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