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DPChallenge Forums >> Tips, Tricks, and Q&A >> Come someone please explain HDR to me?
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01/04/2010 04:43:38 PM · #1
I consider myself knowledgeable with many things, however I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to do an HDR image, what is it? Do I need special equipment more substantial than a D200? And how do they look so awesome!?
01/04/2010 04:48:37 PM · #2
HDR Tutorial

This is a single exposure HDR from RAW. The better method is to use multiple exposures.. Same idea though..

Also check out photomatix

I'm sure other more qualified individuals will be by to post more detailed information, but this should give you a decent start.

Message edited by author 2010-01-04 16:51:47.
01/04/2010 04:49:26 PM · #3
quote

Come someone please explain HDR to me?

Yes. Bear can. He will wander by sooner or later, probably sooner. He can explain HDR better than most here.
01/04/2010 04:55:55 PM · #4
The (original) purpose is to bring more dynamic range to a photo than what the camera is normally capable of capturing. A "real" HDR is created by merging separate images exposed dark, normal and light. This way you get the full detail in all the shadows and highlights. Special software is needed to do the merge. Photoshop and PaintShop Pro are capable, but I think other software does a better job, at least better than what PSP has built into it.

The results can range from perfectly natural and normal looking to the over the top effect that I think you are referring to. The recent HDR II challenge stirred a lot of debate over what HDR really was. Some people low voted anything that did not have what they considered the "HDR look" and others low voted anything that looked unrealistic, considering it an abuse of the technique.

Right after a merge, an HDR usually looks pretty lousy, and another adjustment called tone mapping is then done with it. You can often do some tonemapping effects without HDR to get a similar look.

You can find some free HDR utilities in the Freebie imaging software thread.

Message edited by author 2010-01-04 16:58:25.
01/04/2010 06:15:49 PM · #5
Spiffy is on the mark here.

TRUE HDR is simply a photo which utilizes the most range from extreme shadow to extreme highlight, without losing detail on either end, and having as much of a range as possible between the two points.

Ansel Adams' work was basically HDR work, even though very few people today would recognize it as such.

Today, it has unfortunately morphed into the cartoon, high-impact, colorfully extreme images that are usually seen. Places like this, and the media, are hotbeds for images of this type because of that all-important 'wow' factor that everyone seems to pleasure themselves over. Not that I'm not saying they don't have their place, but I do kind of worry sometimes that photography of that nature is becoming the default go-to for a term that really isn't about what that kind of photography is.

So I guess the real answer is that HDR is going to be different depending on who you ask, what you research, and what you decide you want it to be.
01/04/2010 06:23:35 PM · #6
Originally posted by K10DGuy:

Spiffy is on the mark here.

TRUE HDR is simply a photo which utilizes the most range from extreme shadow to extreme highlight, without losing detail on either end, and having as much of a range as possible between the two points.

It always helps if you remember what the initials stand for: High Dynamic Range ...
01/04/2010 06:38:43 PM · #7
May I post a word of caution? Sometimes HDR is used to such an extent that when you first see the photo, you see the HDR, and not the picture. Whether I'm voting or writing a critique, or just browsing, any image with too much HDR just seems to blare its presence. And for the wrong reasons.

I am not saying HDR is bad, far from it. But imho, why gild the lily? Just take a decent pic in the first place, because no amount of HDR, tonemapping, PS, Topaz etc etc will save a crappy shot. But if HDR is used to the extent that you see the pp first, and the image second...well, it's a case of the clothes wearing the model, as opposed to the model wearing the clothes.

*ducking to avoid flames*
01/04/2010 06:55:19 PM · #8
Originally posted by snaffles:

May I post a word of caution? Sometimes HDR is used to such an extent that when you first see the photo, you see the HDR, and not the picture. Whether I'm voting or writing a critique, or just browsing, any image with too much HDR just seems to blare its presence. And for the wrong reasons.

I am not saying HDR is bad, far from it. But imho, why gild the lily? Just take a decent pic in the first place, because no amount of HDR, tonemapping, PS, Topaz etc etc will save a crappy shot. But if HDR is used to the extent that you see the pp first, and the image second...well, it's a case of the clothes wearing the model, as opposed to the model wearing the clothes.

*ducking to avoid flames*


Completely agree. I've found myself in the past being guilty of trying to dress up a bad shot with editing, though not necessarily HDR, when ultimately I should take the time to go take a better shot.
01/04/2010 06:56:53 PM · #9
Originally posted by snaffles:

May I post a word of caution? Sometimes HDR is used to such an extent that when you first see the photo, you see the HDR, and not the picture. Whether I'm voting or writing a critique, or just browsing, any image with too much HDR just seems to blare its presence. And for the wrong reasons.

I am not saying HDR is bad, far from it. But imho, why gild the lily? Just take a decent pic in the first place, because no amount of HDR, tonemapping, PS, Topaz etc etc will save a crappy shot. But if HDR is used to the extent that you see the pp first, and the image second...well, it's a case of the clothes wearing the model, as opposed to the model wearing the clothes.

*ducking to avoid flames*


While I agree with most of what you say, HDR can vastly improve an otherwise unremarkable image. I do agree that a lighter touch is often better.

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01/04/2010 07:02:57 PM · #10
Originally posted by scarbrd:

Originally posted by snaffles:

May I post a word of caution? Sometimes HDR is used to such an extent that when you first see the photo, you see the HDR, and not the picture. Whether I'm voting or writing a critique, or just browsing, any image with too much HDR just seems to blare its presence. And for the wrong reasons.

I am not saying HDR is bad, far from it. But imho, why gild the lily? Just take a decent pic in the first place, because no amount of HDR, tonemapping, PS, Topaz etc etc will save a crappy shot. But if HDR is used to the extent that you see the pp first, and the image second...well, it's a case of the clothes wearing the model, as opposed to the model wearing the clothes.

*ducking to avoid flames*


While I agree with most of what you say, HDR can vastly improve an otherwise unremarkable image. I do agree that a lighter touch is often better.

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This, however, is more a case of digital color shifting than HDR. Techniques like this were used in films like The Lord of the Rings, and it's definitely a nice technique. There has been some improvement in the dynamic range here, for sure, but the IMPACT in this photo is the color management.
01/04/2010 07:41:40 PM · #11
Good points, all. Glad to see that some here recognize the importance of a light touch. Too many seem to reward strong usage of HDR - and other pp tricks. Some of the shots were more than strong enough to stand on their own, but too much pp of any form just draws my eye to it, and ruins the shot.

Recently I placed in the top 10 of an Advanced challenge, with a pic on which I did very Basic editing, using PS CS2. I may never win a ribbon, but for me, that image was and is proof positive that the system still rewards good photos. Sadly, it still rewards good photos with obvious pp.

*ducking*
01/04/2010 07:54:06 PM · #12
HDR is just flat out necessary for some scenes. While I don't advocate using HDR to salvage photos that are otherwise crap, you can use HDR as a crutch sometimes. ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/90000-94999/93565/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_774738.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/90000-94999/93565/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_774738.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' Here's an example if using tonemapping as a crutch. I was 4 miles into the backcountry and pop-up flash would NOT have cut it here. The key is to understand which scenes require HDR before you take them. ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1126/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_835130.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/1000-1999/1126/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_835130.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' This image was taken around 45 minutes after sunrise. The illuminated areas are exceptionally bright and the shadow areas are black. This photo is impossible without HDR, yet the end result I entered was very close to what the human eye perceived. This is because I realized before the capture what I would need to do AFTERWARD to accurately capture things, and did not use it as a crutch.

Message edited by author 2010-01-04 19:55:06.
01/04/2010 08:01:18 PM · #13
Originally posted by snaffles:

Sadly, it still rewards good photos with obvious pp.

*ducking*

Blame "broad appeal" for that. This is why I prefer to interpret the vote spread and comments to determine if an image really sucked, or just was lacking the amount of pop needed to garner a large number of high votes. Most of my entries have a slight to modest amount of tonemapping on them. Either Topaz adjsust, clarify, or some of both. I've been trying to do it with a lighter hand to maintain a more realistic look, but still give it some visual pop and dimension.

Message edited by author 2010-01-04 20:02:50.
01/04/2010 08:43:42 PM · #14
Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

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That's the key. It's called "previsualization", and it's integral to any photographic process, essentially, but especially to HDR imaging.

K10Dguy was right: "Ansel Adams' work was basically HDR work, even though very few people today would recognize it as such.

HDR imaging is basically the digital equivalent of Ansel Adams' "Zone System"; and the Zone System, in the film days, was just as capable of being exaggerated into cartoonishness as HDR/ToneMapping/Topaz/Lucis Arts is today. It's just a tool; how you use it is what matters.

R.

01/04/2010 08:49:59 PM · #15
I used to know , what I thought was HDR.

Then two of my friends 'went' on an HDR course, and this is what they where taught (see below) now they are doing nothing but this. But when I chimed in with my 2cents (they asked me to critique them) one of them accused me of being all 'negative, intrusive, unsupporting, I was trying to 'put' him down" etc etc etc

I tried to explain what I 'thought' HDR was and that maybe they could try different sliders, how it was meant to be about subtle differences in the shadows and highlights , bringing out different tones, in the PM program. I also sent a link to the HDR Gallery here. Again, I was an interfering bitch and putting them. At that point I gave up and felt pretty much like crap.

Maybe this is how it is meant to look, cos he seems proud of it and stuck it on his actual Website.

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01/04/2010 08:54:43 PM · #16
Originally posted by JulietNN:

I used to know , what I thought was HDR.

Then two of my friends 'went' on an HDR course, and this is what they where taught (see below) now they are doing nothing but this. But when I chimed in with my 2cents (they asked me to critique them) one of them accused me of being all 'negative, intrusive, unsupporting, I was trying to 'put' him down" etc etc etc

I tried to explain what I 'thought' HDR was and that maybe they could try different sliders, how it was meant to be about subtle differences in the shadows and highlights , bringing out different tones, in the PM program. I also sent a link to the HDR Gallery here. Again, I was an interfering bitch and putting them. At that point I gave up and felt pretty much like crap.

Maybe this is how it is meant to look, cos he seems proud of it and stuck it on his actual Website.

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Eeek! Actually, that first shot i really like as it goes SO over the top as to make the scene extremely otherworldly and surreal. But generally, no, too much HDR!
01/04/2010 08:55:57 PM · #17
*eyes still stinging from looking at the images Juliet posted* Ow. Owww... Owwwwwwwww....
01/04/2010 08:56:29 PM · #18
Originally posted by JulietNN:

Maybe this is how it is meant to look, cos he seems proud of it and stuck it on his actual Website.

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Complete BS....

R.
01/04/2010 09:03:27 PM · #19
Here is another. Just to tip you over the edge!!!

And for these shots, I was called an '''interfering, jealous, do not want to see them go ahead in photography, spiteful, do not know what I doing in photography, putting them down, negative, the teacher knows more than you do' interfering stupid woman. And this was from my """best friend"" who is now a "professional photographer who just got a camera 4 months ago :"expert":

I felt like shit for saying anything

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01/04/2010 09:03:40 PM · #20
Originally posted by JulietNN:


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My stomach feels all queasy now :-(
01/04/2010 09:05:26 PM · #21
Originally posted by JulietNN:


I felt like shit for saying anything

You HAD to be honest, you wouldn't be much of a friend if you hadn't at least TRIED to make wake him up to this..... ummm..... this...... you know....
01/04/2010 09:09:31 PM · #22
Originally posted by JulietNN:

I used to know , what I thought was HDR.

Then two of my friends 'went' on an HDR course, and this is what they where taught


I sure wish I could get paid for standing on a pulpit ranting...

Having said that... whatever. If it sells, it sells. Some people buy Thomas Kinkade paintings too...

Doesn't mean I have to like or agree with it.
01/04/2010 09:28:16 PM · #23
Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

Some people buy Thomas Kinkade paintings too...

He paints in HDR.
01/04/2010 09:54:29 PM · #24
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

Some people buy Thomas Kinkade paintings too...

He paints in HDR.


LOL HDR with the "Glowing Cottage Window" action added on.
:)
01/04/2010 10:14:21 PM · #25
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Basic editing HDR. : )
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