HDR imagery- shedding some light on the subject.

Posted on May 9, 2012 in Artifacts

From hyper-realistic to surrealistic– HDR is a new imaging technique that you’ve probably seen but might not have known what it was. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and is used to capture and display a broader range of lighting detail than a typical camera can capture in a single shot. If you’ve ever taken photos in difficult lighting such as snow on a sunny day or a brightly backlit subject, you know how hard it can be to get the right exposure in a single exposure. Its either too dark in the shadows or blown out in the highlights.

Using the HDR technique, a series of images with different exposures are captured quickly in succession (this is called bracketing). Then utilizing a digital imaging tool such as Photoshop, the different exposure images are merged into a single image file, utilizing the best detail from each of the exposures. This gives the photographer the ability to display images with great detail in the shadows as well as the highlights.

Where it gets fun and creative, in the image merging step the user has great latitude in in the tone mapping process. One can produce  a wide range of image looks; from an almost  metallic airbrushed sheen, to a painterly super -saturated look, to ethereal other-worldly images.

It’s really not that new of a concept either, as even in the “good old days” of film and negatives and darkrooms, we used  techniques such as dodging an burning the print, multiple print exposures from different negatives, and creative techniques such as “solarization” to create different looks. In the end though, it always comes back to the photographer’s eye, the composition, the lighting, and the visual story-telling ability of the artist. It’s one more creative tool in our arsenal to help your brand message stand out form the crowd. If you’d like to see some more examples or have questions let us know, we’d be happy to talk with you.