Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR)

with Ben Long
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Shooting and Processing High Dynamic Range Photographs (HDR)
Video duration: 0s 4h 58m Intermediate


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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding how the image sensor detects shadows
  • Capturing a broader dynamic range
  • Knowing when to use HDR
  • Finding good HDR subject matter
  • Using gradient masks to improve dynamic range
  • Merging in Photoshop and processing elsewhere
  • Dealing with ghosting
  • Reducing noise and correcting chromatic aberrations
  • Handling HDR images that seem flat
  • Combining HDR and LDR (low dynamic range)
  • Selective editing with HDR Efex Pro
  • Creating panoramic HDR images
  • Creating an HDR time lapse
Photoshop Photomatix SilverFast HDR Studio


- Hi. My name is Ben Long, and welcome to HDR, shooting and processing high dynamic range photos. HDR, or high dynamic range imaging, is a shooting and processing technique that allows you to capture scenes with your digital camera that are simply impossible to record with a normal photographic process. With HDR, you can take photos of scenes that have tremendously bright areas and deep, dark shadowy areas and process them to produce an image with good exposure through both highlights and shadows.

Alter your process a little bit and you can record tremendous levels of detail or press your images on into a painterly or surreal world. In this course, we're going to look at all aspects of HDR production from shooting to post-production. You're going to learn what HDR techniques can be used for, how to shoot to capture the best HDR ready data, and how you might modify your techniques depending on your subject matter. As with any type of photography, shooting is only half of the HDR process, so once we're done taking pictures, we'll look in depth at how to process them using HDR software.

You'll learn how to use Photoshop's built-in HDR features as well as leading HDR processors Photomatix, and Nik Software's HDR Efex. Finally, because most HDR images need more than just straight HDR conversion, we'll take a look at how you can improve your images, how to use HDR to create better black and white images, and a lot of other stuff. HDR is not a magic bullet. It won't immediately make you a better photographer. In fact, it's very easy to arrive at very ugly images using HDR techniques, but for many circumstances, HDR techniques are the best way to capture the image before you, and in this course, you'll learn everything you need to add this valuable tool to your shooting arsenal.

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