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Submitted on
January 13, 2007
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How High Dynamic Range works? by real-creative How High Dynamic Range works? by real-creative
So this is not really a tutorial but i just wanted to show you how you have to take pictures so you can compile them in an HDR application.

--- Setup

First you have to take pictures of the exact same theme. So you cannot just take a snapshot and try to turn this one into an HDR picture afterwards. I recommend a tripod or anything else where you can set up your cam so that it doesn't move, even if you change options for taking pictures. This is usually a tripod ;)

--- Conditions

Make sure you have nothing that moves too much in the picture. On a windy day you wont be able to take good HDR pictures, cause moving trees just blur the picture or result in shadows in the final picture. And i bet you dont wanna spend time photoshopping them out. Sometimes clouds can become a problem or make the picture even nicer. If clouds move horizontal along the horizon, then you'll have the same structure for the clouds like 4 times in the picture which looks awkward in the result. But if you have moving clouds, which even maybe mix up the sky a little, then you'll get an even more contrast rich sky in the result.

--- Settingup the Camera

I've used 2 different ways to achieve different brightness and details in the photos i wanna use for a HDR Picture.

a) use different lens apature. This is good for daytime pictures.
b) use different exposure times. This is good for night and twilight

But it depends on your camera when you should use which method and maybe some cameras behave different depending on the light.

--- Taking the pictures

When taking the pictures you can decide to take between 2 and maybe 5 pictures. But i dont see a point in taking more then 5. For most applications 3 should be enough. 2 is a backup solution if you screwed one image up for example.
Make sure when you take the pictures that they all have different levels of brighness. Otherwise the HDR effect won't turn out very well. I showed above a good example of a range of pictures (lens apature from -2 to +2).
You should always make sure you do not move the camera in any way, otherwise you can start all over again.

--- Postprocessing

I'm not giving any tutorials for applications here just recommendations.

a) Photomatix: great tone-mapping, easy to use, but screws up auto-aligning some times. Good for: Dramatic Pictures
b) PhotoImpact: avarage tone-mapping, easy to use. Good for: Natural looking Pictures
c) PhotoShop: avarage tone-mapping, difficult to use. Good for: Natural looking Pictures

--- Advices:

- Avoid any kind of noise in the pictures, especially if you wanna use Photomatix (it boosts noise extremely). Keep the ISO low for less noise.
- Do not abuse the tone-mapping, you can really create unreal pictures with it, but that's not what HDR is for.
- Use HDR to enhance contrast/colors in your pictures and to even brightnesslevels and glowing of certain areas.

So okay, now enjoy taking HDR pictures.



Okay this turned out to be longer then I thought. suggestions via note please.

--- Based on my own few experiences with HDR Pictures (Check my Gallery)
Add a Comment:
Diego-Suarez Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2010
Great walkthrough :) I've done it similar in the past but I think explains it very well.

Good job on giving back to the community :)
WHOgenotte Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2008
Hi Martin,
habe gerade deine Anleitung gelesen. War mir zwar nicht neu aber hat mir meine bisherigen Kenntnisse bestätigt, DANKE. Habe auch gleich gesehen welche Software du zur HDR-Erzeugung nutzt. Wie machst du das mit den 5 Belichtungen - meine Cam (EOS400D) macht nur 3. Um 5 zu machen müsste ich an der Cam Einstellungen vornehmen, welche sicher zu Ghosts führen würde...wie machst du das?

Grüße Roy
real-creative Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2008   Photographer
Also ich arbeite auch mit der EOS 400D, ohne Stativ geht es mit der AEB Funktion ja sehr komfortabel und bei einem geringen dynamik umfang des motivs reicht das auch vollkommen aus. sollten aber trotzdem noch dunkle oder helle stellen überstrahlen, dann musst du zum stativ greifen und die belichtungszeit variieren. da braucht man ja nur am rädchen drehen, das geht ganz fix, aber viel bewegen darf sich dann wirklich nicht!
SmashR Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2007
great tutorial !
aaronc608 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2007
thanks so much, i'm trying it out right now :)
szc Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2007
Thanks for sharing ;)
Ogrrr Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2007  Student
Awesome tutorial, and the difference is really clear. I don't understand one thing tho. When you have taken your 2-5 pictures of the exact same scene, but with different camera specifications, then what? What is it exactly you do in Photoshop or Photomatix?

I'm sorry this sounds stupid, but I would really like to try this out. Because face it, the outcome is awesome. Totally awesome. I get what your saying, btu I still don't know enuff to actually go out and do it myself >.<
Ogrrr Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2007  Student
Thanks, that is a great help. But not the entire picture... if I get to know more, I'll come back to you about it ;)
xxqueenxofxskemexx Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2007
There is an automated script in photoshop(File>Automate>HDR...) that makes the HDR for you. I have been asking the same questions you have. I want to know the manual way of creating a HDR because I'm not getting precisely what I am wanting from the automated precedure. Good luck in your search and I hope I have partially answered your question.
Ogrrr Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2007  Student
Thanks, that is a great help. But not the entire picture... if I get to know more, I'll come back to you about it ;)
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