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HDR photography

A brief look at High Dynamic Range photography

I’ll be bringing a few of my older, short blog posts to the fore again, as they are still highly relevant to anyone interested in photography. We’ll start with a post I made about High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography a couple of years ago.

HDR photography is great for interior photographs, but it takes some skill to do it right.

[Originally posted 26 January 2011. Minor edits and updates]

Tone mapping is a photo editing technique to enhance local contrast in high dynamic range (HDR) and low dynamic range (i.e. single exposure) images. Today’s photograph is a true HDR image – that is it’s a combination of 3 different exposures, tone mapped to bring out the bright daylight in the windows while preserving the shadows behind the cafetiere. I occasionally use HDR to achieve the look and feel I want for an image, but its especially valuable for interior photographs.

When HDR is done right you can achieve a balanced and calm image that, in some ways and with certain conditions met, is a better reproduction of what our eyes see than a traditional single exposure. It’s usually done very badly, leading to quite grotesque images, as most of these google image search results show. Some artists may intentionally seek that look and feel. For most, I suspect, it’s just a technique that they run their images through without thought. Like the early days of web design, with all those home made websites full of flashing text, there’s often no real understanding of the subtleties involved.

About the photographer

The Photographer SmallPaul Ligas is a professional commercial photographer based in Herefordshire, and working across the West Midlands and the UK. Follow on Twitter and Facebook.