When you’re faced with a subject that has a high dynamic range – that is, one that has high contrast, with both very bright highlights and very dark shadows – one technique you can use to capture the full tonal range is high dynamic range imaging. But as you will see in our Photoshop tutorial below, there is a simple way to get an HDR effect from just one picture.
High dynamic range (HDR) is something photographers either love or hate. We love it! You can use it to create some extremely dynamic, surreal images and push the look to its limits. There are many bad examples of HDR out there where extreme tone mapping in Photomatix has left images overcooked and overdone. But when you aim for realistic HDR and your images aren’t pushed to extremes, it’s a technique that can really help you in difficult lighting conditions.
Essentially, there are two reasons for making HDR photos. First, as a photographer you often experience lighting conditions that have a higher dynamic range than your sensor is capable of recording in one gulp, so HDR photos capture and compress the brightness range.Done well, no-one will ever know it’s an HDR.
The second reason that you would use HDR is for the look — to boost the colours and contrast of a dull subject or to give your image a grungy feel. With these reasons in mind, lets take a look at 6 ways you can make HDR photos that are subtle and spectacular.
Exposure blending enables you to mix images to get perfectly exposed skies, not always from the same scene. It’s not only a simple way of making HDR images, but it’s also a way of making more realistic-looking HDR images.
The process when shooting is simple and most cameras have a built-in Bracketing feature to aid you further. It’s crucial that one image captures the detail of the sky and the other that of the foreground – then you use Layers and Masks to blend the two.
Want to get stunning High Dynamic Range images, but don’t have the patience or software? Here’s a clever way to get fantastic HDR images by merging RAW files in Photoshop