Revealed: the key to doing HDR well
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…