Saturday, September 25, 2010

First Foray into HDR

Yes, I'm late to the HDR party.  I finally downloaded the Photomatix HDR Demo and gave it a whirl. 

For those unfamiliar with the term (and there probably isn't many of you left) HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  Essentially, it can allow you to see photographs more like your eye remembers seeing the original scene.  You have probably noticed that when you take a picture of a sunset, either the sun is washed out, or is you exposed properly for the sun, all the other detail in the photo is too dark. 

Basically, when you shoot for an HDR photo, you take three pictures.  The first is properly exposed, the second is under-exposed so that the highlights are not blown out and the final shot is over-exposed to bring out the detail in the shadows.  Then you use an HDR program to merge the three shots together.  Depending on the settings you use, you can go from a more realistic looking photo (where the shadows and highlights are all properly exposed) to a more painted effect.  Just do a search for HDR and you'll see all the stunning images that can be created.

Ok, so with all that, here was my first attempt.  (Click on any of the pix for a bigger view) The first shot is the original...

Here's the first run thru with Photomatix...

You'll notice I really pumped up the color saturation, but also, you can see more detail in the big white cloud and also in the trees and rocks on the left side of the shot that was mostly in shadow.

I ran it thru Photomatix one more time with slightly different settings.  This time I adjusted the color balance to give it a slightly warmer look and brought out the shadows even a little more...

Not quite sure if either one of these shots quite does it for me and you can tweak endlessly.  Still, I'm anxious to continue working on these...  Maybe I'll head out tomorrow and try again!