Stronger, Faster, HDRder

It had to happen eventually, I spend half my life browsing around amazing photography on the web. Much of the spectacular stuff you see appears to have amazing dynamic range. The problem is, often it all looks excessively stylised and fake.

Despite this uncertainty, I am a curious type so I wanted to have a go, and go I did. Coming into all this completely fresh I had no idea, so I started off by reading the excellent beginners guides over at DPS.

Right then, now I got it. You take more than one photo of the same thing, at different exposures, “blend” them together and compress the result into something that looks like it has a far higher dynamic range than your camera is able to produce in one go. Sounds easy right…

Problem #1: Rather bizarrely, for such a popular technique these days, it is not something you can do in Adobe Lightroom. I spent ½ a day browsing around, and it turns out that despite there being a number of options, all the recommended bits of software will set you back 100 quid or more. I didn’t really want to spend that on an experiment. Luckily the Apple Application store came to my rescue and a piece of software called, “HDRtist” is available for £20. Not ideal, but it’ll do. All the examples in this article are processed using this software.

Problem #2: I had no bracketed photos to experiment with.  By Last Sunday, I had been suffering; no dying, from ‘man flu’ for three days and was feeling better enough to have moved onto cabin fever as my principle problem. This gave me the ideal excuse to get off my butt and go for a dusk walk along the Thames and across the CAB (Chelsea, Albert, Battersea) bridges.

The results of my little experiment follow after this text. While I have enjoyed the process, it has not brought me any closer to falling in love with HDR photography. I can see its use, and maybe I do need to invest in some better software, because despite my best efforts with HDRtist, I don’t seem able to get it to give me a better range without it all going very ‘stylised’ and obviously HDR’d. I will play a bit more over the course of the next few weeks and see what I can get.

As a comparison, the very last photo in this article, is NOT HDR, but a straight forward photo nicely (in my opinion) composed and correctly lit. For me this last picture is every bit as interesting and dynamic as all the others.

The jury, as they say, is still out!

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This last image, is taken from the same walk, but has not been processed as an HDR image.
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