Experiments in HDR Photography

Over the past few weeks I’ve mentioned the idea of HDR photography, which stands for High Dynamic Range photography. Here’s my first try, with an image I took this evening from my hotel balcony in Kusadasi, Turkey.

The basic idea is that you lock your camera on a tripod, and take three photos in a row, very quickly, with three different exposures. Then you get special software that combines the photos into a single image, taking the optimally exposed layer for each part of the photo. Then you tweak the image in Photoshop, and spit it out the end.

I decided to give it a go, but instead of using the special programs (which I may have on my laptop somewhere, as I think some kind of utility for this came with my camera) I did the below images entirely using the Gimp, the open source Photoshop project.

In other words, please don’t examine these closely! I’m just messing about with the technique, and if I like this “look” I might purchase or find the real software to make things easier and better quality in the future.

Second, here’s a photo from the burning mountain in I visited a few weeks ago:

And a single exposure of the same scene for comparison:

The effect is really noticeable in the first image, making everything look plastic and unreal compared to normal photographs. The second image is far more subtle, probably too subtle for anyone to notice. I like the second a lot better, but it’s a lot of work to put into a single image.

I’ll see how it goes.

EDIT: I noticed the wordpress theme has been resizing the images I’ve been posting here from my gallery! I wondered why the quality sometimes looked a bit off. From now on the images will be crystal clear.


4 comments to this article

  1. Dmitriy Mayorov

    on 2009/10/26 at 01:20 -

    Very nice use of HDR. I would just dial it down a bit, as the halos are too prominent for my taste.

    Also try enfuse on the same images. It’s not as convenient as commercial programs, but often works better. And you can’t argue with the price (it’s free).

  2. r4 ds

    on 2009/11/06 at 10:53 -

    Awesome HDR images. I have downloaded all the images for my iphone.
    Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!

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