HDR isn’t just about intense, eye-piercing detail that hurts your eyes.
Certain compositions suit certain treatments, sometimes it’s black and white, sometimes colour, sometimes HDR and so on. When you get it right, you will make the most of your compositions
Here is my personal selection of images that I have created using HDR techniques.
You can create a variety of effects using HDR post processing. I like its ability to ‘flatten’ an image by creating an even exposure across the composition.
It can also be used to more easily bring out cloud details, or the textures of grassy or mossy surfaces, or architectural surfaces
Also, using HDR presets, the same ‘look’ can be created for similar images, such as these
The software that I use (Nik HDR Efex Pro) has intensified the blues in the skies, as well as done a good job of bringing out the details in the texture and patterns of the architecture and sky
HDR processing is just a tool, a very useful one that allows details from all parts of the composition to become visible.
So the fine texture of the surface of icicles can be easily viewed. Dominant skies or landscapes can be equalised more easily so they don’t compete visually with each other.
Textures in the snow as well as shapes such as footprints in the snow can be made more easily visible – if that’s what’s required creatively.
Snow especially feels more three-dimensional when processed with HDR, just have a look at the snow images above to see what I mean.
Some of the effects in the images on this page come uniquely from options within Nik Softwares HDR software. So something like Photomatix won’t produce results exactly like this.
HDR is a post processing technique that can be massively over used. To the uninitiated the intensity is not always fully understood
If you are new to HDR my advice is to post process some images to your taste, then go back to them later after a few days. When you are able to look more objectively at your own images, you will be better able to see any over processing.
The processing of the images above has increased the saturation, bringing out the blues in the clouds as well as creating an even amount of detail across all elements from tree branches to the brickwork to the cloudy sky.
The beauty of something like HDR is that once you have a stash of presets for your software, you can apply them to similar images to create groups of images. In a few key clicks you can produce stunning processing effects that really bring out what you saw at the time of capture.
It’s not all dark intensity though. Here I have flattened these daytime compositions to bring out details in brickwork, sky and foliage.
The HDR has evened out the exposure across the composition in a way that no single exposure could do.
For me these digital images represent what I saw much more closely than if I had – for example – shot film and just had them processed ‘as is’
The above images of Dubrovnik is a return to the classic HDR look without the eye piercing extreme-ness.
But this is what HDR is good for, which is to pump up the image a little. HDR is actually a process that happens through algorithms written by clever people.
HDR wasn’t designed to create in you face, intensely detailed images. It was designed so that the algorithms that performed calculations on the pixel values had data to work on from the brightest to the darkest area of the image.
That meant that very realistic compositions could be created, and not just the extreme and unrealistic versions that became popular for a while.
Anyway, don’t hate HDR…but be slightly wary of it at the same time!