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In this course, photographer Ben Long describes the concepts and techniques behind high dynamic range (HDR) photography, a technique used to create images that have a wider range between the lightest and darkest areas of a scene than a digital camera can typically capture. The course begins with some background on dynamic range, on how camera sensors detect shadows, and on the kinds of subjects that benefit from HDR. Ben then describes and demonstrates several methods of generating HDR images, starting with single-shot HDR, which relies on masking to subtly enhance the dynamic range of a shot. Next, the course covers multi-exposure HDR, which involves shooting several photos of a scene, each at a different exposure, and then combining them using software tools. Ben demonstrates how to use Photoshop and the popular Photomatix software to process HDR images whose appearance ranges from subtle to surreal.
A while ago I was out shooting with a friend who is an experienced photographer and they said, "I just forget about HDR a lot of times." If you are new to HDR shooting, it can be easy to forget that you have this tool at your disposal and even experienced HDR shooters sometimes get stuck in kind of a rut as they assume that HDR is only for certain situations. So before we go out to shoot, I want to take a quick look at three examples and talk about how HDR can serve them. The first is interiors. I am here in this abandoned ruin and obviously I have got a couple of problems.
I have this very, very bright thing out the window which is biasing my exposure way, way dark, and so I am losing all this detail. This was shot as the camera metered. This is one shot underexposed and you can see that I have picked up a lot of detail outside. The sky still looks overexposed and it still looks white. I am not worrying about that here for two reasons. One, it was mostly overcast, so the sky was pretty white. I mean there just wasn't a lot of texture there, but also, again, our photographic literacy means that to a degree we are not expecting perfect blue out here.
So that's okay. This is one-shot overexposed and it's showing me all this nice detail in here. When I HDR the three images, I end up with this. So a lot of things have happened here. I have picked up a tremendous amount of texture on the walls, a whole lot of detail. I've preserved all of this detail out the window, and as you'll recall, our regular exposure, which was here, this stuff was really blown out. So I have pulled a lot of nice detail back into here. Now, you might say, well, the image doesn't really look like a photo or it looks a little flat or something.
And that may be true. You can dial all these parameters back and forth. You don't have to go as far as I did here, by way of example. So interiors are a good place for HDR, even if you're not facing a back lighting situation, even if you're not trying to shoot out of a window. Interiors very often have very varied light, particularly big spaces, cathedrals, and churches, and things like that. So HDR is simply a good way to preserve as much detail as you can when shooting inside. Objects, just things lying around, particularly coloring things or textury things are also good HDR subject matter.
Here is someone who had some parking difficulties and what I liked about this was one, it's a car stuck in the ground, and two, I knew that all of this stuff could maybe be something cool, if it was amped up a little bit HDR wise. But also I knew the sky back here was probably going to turn into something. This is as metered, and again, we are beyond the camera's dynamic range here. As metered, it was not able to preserve much detail back here. While I was standing there, I was able to see a lot of texture in the clouds. My camera couldn't. One stop under does show some more detail; one stop over, brings me more detail down here, brightens up some of my white tones, but blows the sky out completely. Merged, I get this.
I didn't go super far with this image, in so far as my HDR effect goes, but I have managed to pull the sky back and I do have some nice play on some of these textures and things. So objects, indoors, outdoors. Don't think that HDR is only for capturing big spaces where there are lots and lots of varied light. Even just shooting small things and thisisn't even actually that small of a thing. It's a car, but still, even smaller things can work with HDR, and of course, the obvious one, landscapes. Here is a landscape with a broad range of lightning.
I have got these bright bits back here where the sun had come out from behind the clouds. I have got deep shadow in the foreground. This is it as metered. This is one stop under, which serves to put a lot of texture back in the bright bits on this cloud and this is a sandstorm here. This is probably 20 stories high worth of sand blowing to this valley. So you can see the difference between my regular exposure, watch this area in here, and my underexposure, pulls back some more detail, but obviously I lose a lot here.
My overexposure blows the sky out completely, but picks up all of the detail here in the foreground, and when I merge them, I get this. So landscapes, again, are very oftenly kind of obvious HDR scenario because landscapes very often have a huge dynamic range and HDR is the only way to capture them. So don't get in rut. Don't forget about HDR. Know that there are lots and lots and lots and lots of places that you can use it. Now the good news is no matter what you are shooting and where you are, the techniques that you use for shooting are pretty much the same, and we are going to take a look at those in detail as we go out shooting in the next movie.
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