HDR image

Technique: HDR

Technique: HDR

Introduction to HDR for creating better pictures

Part 1

What is HDR?

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Human eyes can see more details in highlights and shadows which, if we compare it to a photography term, is equivalent to 6-7 EV stops. Compare this to a modern digital camera which has around 3 EV stops if you shoot in RAW format and around 1 EV stop in Jpeg. In short, we can see much more details in a scene than our cameras.

Creating HDR
This image shows how a camera captures a scene
HDR photos have more details in Highlights and shadows
This image shows that how much details are in highlights and shadows that human eyes can see (After HDR editing)

In the above photos you see the difference between what our eyes can see and how a camera captures the scene.

So should this camera disability discourage you from taking amazing nature pictures?

Absolutely not! There are many different techniques which you can use to preserve the details. In this article I am going to discuss two different techniques.

1- Shooting in RAW format:

When you shoot in RAW, the camera sensor captures more than 11,000 tones, but in Jpeg format the camera processor compresses the 11,000 tones to only 256 tones! This is why when shooting in Jpeg you can not restore many details from shadows and next to none in highlights.

Jpeg file from a DSLR
Jpeg file from a DSLR
Raw file from the same scene after editing.
Raw file from the same scene after editing.

By shooting RAW, you can make better HDR photos and the image details are closer to what human eyes can see. Just keep in mind that RAW format needs post processing.

2- Shooting HDR:

Now that Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC added the new HDR plugin, it is getting very popular and easy to make better HDR images.

For making better HDR, we should understand the limitation of our camera in regards to the Zone system. I already mentioned the camera limitation above. Our eyes recognize the details of 6 to 7 zones, but the modern cameras in RAW format can capture, at most, up to 3 zones.

HDR  covers more zones to create better photo
Comparison between human eyes and camera shooting in raw file according to Zone System

So because our eyes can see details in more zones than our camera can capture, a simple solution is to take multiple shots with different exposures (Bracketing to shoot for lighter and darker areas and then merge or blend the shots in Photoshop or Lightroom.)

Sample of HDR
Sample of HDR

That is all for now. In my next article I am going to explain the Zone system and how to determine how many shots you need for making better HDR images.

Are you a member of Facebook Rebel Photographer Group? Post your images and we can all enjoy the beauty of HDR images together.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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