Sarasota, FL (PressExposure) June 02, 2011 -- Sarasota, FL - HDR (or High Dynamic Range) is a photography technique that has been around for decades, but is just now beginning to really get it's footing in the world of digital photography due to advances in HDRSoftware - and it's becoming accessible to almost anyone with a camera. You might be wondering, "what exactly is high dynamic range?" Its best to use an example to illustrate the concept.
If you are on a beach at sunset taking photographs, you know you can't capture the entire range of lights and darks that you would normally see with your eye. Due to camera limitations, you have to decide whether or not you want to expose for the darker beach foreground, or the brighter sunset on the horizon. Sure you can do your best to find a middle ground, but inevitably one part of the scene will be under or over exposed.
Enter high dynamic range or HDR. HDR processing allows you to increase the range of light you get for a given composition by combining a series of at least three images together that were each taken at various exposures.
By taking one image that is overexposed, one that is under exposed and one at mid-exposure, you capture the full range of light. Then using HDR software, you are able to combine the series to create one perfectly exposed image that is a more realistic depiction of what your eye actually sees at any given time.
Previously, this was a very laborious and time-consuming process in the darkroom. Now, digital photography and ubiquity of HDR software has turned the technique into something that almost anyone of any skill level can do. There are a variety of tools and programs on the market to help you create HDR photos, however some are better than others. HDR Soft's Photomatix has been the industry standard for many years. Newer programs like Nik Software's HDR Efex Pro and Adobe Photoshop CS5 have made competing products that are pushing the industry forward.
Each program has various strengths and weaknesses, so if you're new to this technique start by reading this Photomatix review and then decide from there what tool is best for your needs (there is even a Photomatix coupon code that allows you to get the software at a discount).
Using HDR software in tandem with Photoshop and various noise reduction plugins can help you to create the most spectacular photos of your life, with much less technical knowledge and work than you might think, and give your photos that "wow" effect that was only previously available to professional photographers.
Sean Ogle is author of this article on HDR software.