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
Discover how to capture highlights and shadows in one shot by combining three exposures in one photo with a perfect tonal range.
Give your portraits a dramatic makeover in the style of Andrzej Dragan with this video tutorial
This cool effect will only take a matter of minutes in Photoshop Elements, but will give your portraits an extra special look. HDR techniques were originally conceived as a way of combining multiple exposures to maximise tonal range. HDR software also allows photographers to produce a hyper-real finish, and it’s this that captured the imagination of the masses. But long before HDR came along, Polish photographer Andrzej Dragan pioneered this technique for hyper real style portraits, and his name has since become attached to the method. Pulling out every last bit of texture in a portrait image, so that each line, freckle, wrinkle and pore is emphasised you wind up with a hyper-real, almost 3D feel to your image. Watch this video to find out how you can recreate the look yourself.
Record the full tonal range of any landscape with the Photomerge Exposure feature in Elements 8
High-dynamic range – or HDR – imaging describes the process of combining several exposures to record the full range of highlight and shadow detail in a high contrast scene, above and beyond the capabilities of your D-SLR’s sensor. Take the sunset image provided, a single exposure would leave us with either a correctly exposed foreground and a burnt out sky, or a well-exposed sky and a foreground that’s almost black. Combining your exposures is the only way of getting those highlights and shadows just right. The Exposure Merge feature is new to Elements 8, so those with older versions will need to upgrade, but watch the video to find out how easy it is to achieve!
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Learn to create dramatic landscapes with maximum detail in the shadows and highlights
To make use of Photomatix and this tutorial you’ll need to take three shots of the same scene – one normal exposure, one underexposed by -2 stops and one overexposed by +2 stops, this is to give you detail in both the shadows and highlights, when you merge all three shots together. We show you how…