Welcome to the Magical World of HDR Photography

Welcome to the magical and fun-filled world of HDR (high dynamic range) photography. I say magical because, from an emotional viewpoint, HDR images are filled with drama and wonder ... especially compared to many straight-out-of-the-camera photographs. What's more, HDR photography is a ton of fun.

From a technical standpoint, HDR images reveal details in high-contrast scenes—scenes with deep shadows and bright highlight areas—all in the same image. Previously, capturing a wide range of contrast in a single photograph was impossible without lots of digital darkroom work, complex lighting setups, the use of filters ... or a fantastic combination of all the above.

HDR images can also be filled with knockout texture.

Officially, HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and we're applying this description to photography/ imaging. As a photographic technique, it's referred to as HDR because, by taking a set of pictures and processing them with an HDR software program, you can create an image with a much higher dynamic range than what is possible through the processing of a single image—no matter how skilled a person may be at using even the most sophisticated digital image-editing program.

The number of images required to be in a set that is intended for an HDR image can range from two to as many as nine separate photographs shot at different exposure (EV) settings.

That said, it is possible to pull a lot of information (shadows and highlights) out ...

Get Rick Sammon's HDR Photography Secrets for digital photographers now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.