High Dynamic Range (HDR) Images

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is the process of taking several pictures of the same subject using different exposures and then blending the exposures to create a single image that photographically covers the entire range of exposures in that scene.

With HDR photography, the photographer captures the range from detail in the darkest shadows to the detail in the lightest highlights. Lighting plays a critical role in the HDR Process. Depending on the time of day for exterior images, or the lighting conditions for images for interior rooms, the span of exposures can cover 12 to 18 or more stops. The modern digital camera can take a single image that only covers an exposure range of 5-7 stops.

The three images below, of a local café, are taken utilizing a tripod.

LIGHTEST EXPOSURE – 3 STOPS
MEDIUM EXPOSURE – BASE EXPOSURE 0 STOPS
DARKEST EXPOSURE + 3 STOPS

In the lightest image, you can see details in the shadows and even “look” in the panty door to see the shelves. In the darker image, you can see detail in the light fixtures and detail looking out the window. So if the photographer was only going to take a single image, he would have to decide if he wanted to capture the detail in the darkest, medium or lightest image.

Below is the same cafe enhanced with the HDR process:

There are several software plugins that can develop HDR images. At Terry Theiss Photography, I create all my HDR images manually. I feel that I have more control of the HDR process and I can better generate the true natural “look” of scene by blending the different exposures myself.