Playing with Digital Photography

A recent article in Popular Mechanics described a photographic technique called High Dynamic Range Imaging, typically abbreviated HDR or HDRI. The technique is commonly used among professional photographers to eccentuate the luminescence and color range of a picture. Often, the technique requires the use of several photos, each taken with different exposure settings. These multiple images are then combined into a single HDR image. Wikipedia has a good summary of HDR here.

I thought I’d give it a try, so I downloaded Photomatix Pro 3.0, the software described in the article, and grabbed my camera. I decided to use the pontoon boat as a subject, so I took 3 images at different exposure settings, resulting in the first 3 pictures below.

The Photomatix software took a little time to understand. It first runs a process to digitally align the pictures so that each frame’s data can be compared to the others. It then processes the data from the 3 aligned pictures, creating the HDR image. The entire process takes less than a minute. The resulting HDR image of the pontoon boat scene is shown above.

The HDR image of the pontoon boat certainly has brighter colors, more dramatic cloud shadows, and lighter highlights. It should be fun to try HDR with more dramatic scenery in the future. While HDR isn’t needed for most family snapshots, it will be nice to add this functionality to my digital toolbox.