What is HDR

GlenC 8:49pm, 2 June 2005
It stands for High Dynamic Range.

It's basically a way to 'digitally develop' your photos using tonal information contained in multiple exposures of the same shot.

Say you exposure bracket the same shot. You can merge all three files into one 32 bit file and use the data contained in the images to create one master output preserving accurate details from all exposures.

More information here:

Recovering HDR from images

Rendering with Natural Light

Diffs btw HDR (tone mapping) and exposure blending.

tutorial for handling moving objects in FDRTools

have fun!
tonyharrison 14 years ago
Thanks, this looks really interesting and I'll be trying it out in CS2 when I next get some relevant pics!
ΣΠΖΏ 14 years ago

hope to learn more about HDRI. i'll be needing it in my projects.

mfrissen 14 years ago
the HDR in CS2 is not that great, actually.
I've played with photomatix a number of times (demo) and got very nice results as well.

Note, a number of astronomy image stacking applications perform almost the same HDR, and are free! On mac there is Keith's Image Stacker for instance, on windows I think Astrostack is available. Those astro stack programs are designed for HDR as well, and you don't need the latest PS for this :)
jumpy veil [deleted]
Image Stacker? I'll have to try that out. I wasn't that impressed with Photomatix -- I found the results often quite "plasticy" looking:

Watkins Glen Gorge
mfrissen 14 years ago
Keith's Image Stacker:

images are certainly a lot less saturated than photomatix .. but they also seem darker.. I tried with the sample images on the photomatix site..
I've heard about other multi-exposure methods and I think it's pretty cool. HDR is my first real exposure (sorry for the pun) to the practice.

I'm pretty happy with what you can do with the CS HDR, it does require that you know your way around a curves adjustment, which I'm still pretty new at. In theory PS HDR computes a full range from RAW data and eliminates redundancies.

A friend of mine that does CG lighting and compositing for movies used to complain about Photoshops low bit depth guess is Adobe got tired of hearing it and came up with their own tool to create a super high dynamic range image which I guess becomes relevant when you try to color match composites for film gamut.

To me the biggest challenge is how to use the adaptive curve to capture all the relevant detail and none of what you don't like when converting to a monitor friendly gamut.
controltheweb Posted 13 years ago. Edited by controltheweb (member) 13 years ago
MarcoF - What led to your comment about CS2 HDR? I agree that forcing you to use curves (tutorial 1, tutorial 2) from the get go is a less-than-optimized approach. Especially when it can get pretty complex (scroll to bottom of this page for examples).

But the results can be pretty nice. (Though the tricks of the old masters should not be forgotten.)

And for tools, there's also HDRShop - free for academic and not commercial use. Here's a page with some cool links.
tf5_bassist 13 years ago
Wow. the Monet link ("old masters") i found really interesting, and it makes a lot of sense. HDR definitely has a lot of other compositioning advantages due to contrast and whatnot, I can't wait to start experimenting with it.
Amery Carlson 13 years ago
i agree about Photomatix, thats what I use and the tonemapping function is invaluable. blows cs2's hdr function out of the water. just my 2 cents =)
michaelpanoff 13 years ago
I just did some experimenting with Photomatix, the tonemapping pluggin produces much better results than any of the CS2 32-bit conversion methods. No more washed out images.

Amery: now I know how you've been getting that impressive look with your photos!
Jeff Clow 13 years ago
Thanks much to all for posting the various links...especially to the Photomatix free trial download. I'm just learning, but the various threads in this pool have been QUITE helpful.
Amery Carlson 13 years ago
I can't wait to see what you come up with Jeff ;)
Jeff Clow 13 years ago
Here's my first attempt at using Photomatix and the tone mapping tool, Amery. Without the good folks in this group, I would never have learned how this can be utilized....

Winter Color
Jeff Clow 13 years ago
I've invited several shooters interested in the technique to this group....and I've found the links above to be invaluable in helping me learn the techniques.

I've tried the manual blending and have found that Photomatix does a much better job....and its tone mapping ability REALLY makes a huge difference in the final image's visual appeal.

Here's the Photomatix link where you can download and try the blending and tone mapping for free. A bit pricey, but well worth it for serious photographers who want to improve their images:
The Procrastinating Philosopher Posted 13 years ago. Edited by The Procrastinating Philosopher (member) 13 years ago
I've been doing a bit of googling on HDR and found this very good article:

It's about a new HDR display ($50,000!!), but it also has a good discussion of HDR generally (alongside the very interesting treatment of the technical issues involved with the display).

(the discussion following the article is quite good, as well)
And then there is this, which is probably more to the point, for this group:

(It's the first thing that comes up with a google of "HDR photography", so you may have seen it already)
far-flung clam [deleted] 13 years ago
Many thanks for the tips all.
I'll give it a try today, no doubt.
GlenC 13 years ago
*Perikita 13 years ago
I have worked with one RAW file and got 5 different exposure from it with RawShooter...
I worked with photomatix and I got my HDR image...

Is this valid to post it in this group?

I ask because I actually didn't take 5 pictures but I worked with 5 TIFF images with different exposures from RawShooter with Photomatix.

Thanks :)
GlenC 13 years ago
yes, however!

More true exposures = more image luminosity data = higher dynamic range.

I think the jury is still out on how many exposures = true HDR. Some think it's 7, I believe it's more than 1.

While Adobe hold the position that you can't really create an HDR from the same RAW file, there's no real way to eliminate group images based on this criteria.

Technically speaking your single RAW image contains all the luminosity data you end up with in photomatix. You're mainly using the HDR development process in photomatix to develop your file rather than the traditional RAW developing tools.
fine writing [deleted] 13 years ago
I was very disappointed when i tried CS II's HDR-feature. I am working with real HDR files (up to 26 f-stops) since a few years now and it's really damned hard editing them without a sophisticated tool. Photomatix did not really satisfy me and HDR Shop can not handle 50 megapixel images so i was kinda lost. Great to see that other people like HDR as well :)
Nelson Minar 13 years ago
How much dynamic range does a single Canon 350d raw image have? I'm guessing there's about 10-11 bits in the sensor data, but I'd love to have a reference for that. And how many EV does that translate to?
clear volleyball [deleted] 13 years ago
Great links guys. I gave in to my photo lust and bought Photomatix after giving it a try for a few days.
K e v i n 13 years ago
It's kinda like an acid trip.
thehotchili2000 13 years ago
MarcoF, Astrostack is not a free software download. There is a demo you can download, but the full application is not free... 8(
radziu 13 years ago
CS 2 is OK, but Photomatix is in many cases better.
chivalrous place [deleted] Posted 13 years ago. Edited by chivalrous place (member) 13 years ago
I was going to post this pic to the pool, but I thought that it was off topic. In terms of a reply to this post, however, I think that it's appropriate. I am just starting to play around with HDR. I certainly think that it is a legitimate enhancement tool for photos. More to the point of your question, I thought that this pic would at least show you what other people here are more qualified to explain to you about HDR.

It's a down and dirty pre and post HDR treatment of a pic that I took in London using the RAW image as the basis for three "bracketed" jpegs:

Pre-Post eyePOD HDR.jpg
Cajie 13 years ago
I recently created a short tutorial for my friends here in Kuwait on HDR. Those new to HDR may want to browse through it to pick up a few ideas.
Christiaan Leever NL 13 years ago
Thats a really good tutorial! Read it! And when you've read it, if you want to know more, read mine too...

I have been asked how I make my HDR photos,
so I have created a HDR tutorial on how I do it.

Click the photo to check it out:

M Neal 12 years ago
WOuld this work with 35mm, say I was to expose something at 1/250, 1/125, and 1/500 of a second, would it have the same effect on the film or would it just white out the negative?
CodyR 12 years ago
yes, it will work with film. the difficulty is in approximating the EV for those exposures when you combine them in something like photoshop. photoshop prefers not to guess and if it can't read the EV from the EXIF (which your scans of film shots will not have), it asks you to say what they were. photomatix just guesses.
M Neal 12 years ago
I mean on the same shots, not on seperate shots, no film advance.
avhell 12 years ago
Just a note about software that I may have mentioned somewhere before, but probably bears repeating here for anyone interested in this process but does not want to spend the cash for someones interpretation of the mapping algorithms, or ability to combine images...

Cinepaint can combine your exposurse into a single HDR...

pfstmo is an implementation of the most common tone-mapping operators.

Those two softwares are likely all you will need to be able to produce some great HDR images.
Kyle Springer 11 years ago
i downloaded the trial its putting the words photomatix on all my photos just wondering if its doing it for everyone else..
Photomatix Pro has 2 tone mapping operators, tone compressor and detail enhancer. The trial version puts a watermark on images made with the detail enhancer TMO. The tone compressor doesn't. That's how they get you to pay for the software.
Bob۞Who 10 years ago
Here's an unconventional bracket with Photomatix

Photomatix 2.3 process and LUCK

Click to see how I messed with the aperture (generally avoided) and the shutter as trade off to get sharper depth of field in the stack under low light conditions. It works in distant landscapes, but foreground objects will cause a parallax effect. Also I used a tripod. Basically, I got lucky and was able to get sharper depth than if correctly set at f4.0.
badritotserisel Posted 10 years ago. Edited by badritotserisel (member) 10 years ago
Canon T1i idea:
CS 2 is fine, but I think Photomatix is better.
Amery Carlson Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Amery Carlson (member) 10 years ago
I have a seperate thread on this but I think it is relevant here as well. This is a lecture by John McCann who is an expert on HDR imaging and holds several patents on the technique dating back to the 70's :0
Here is an outline of the lecture:

1) How large is High-Dynamic-Range Imaging

2) History of HDR in painting

3) History of HDR in photography

4) Spatial Image Processing

This is a must watch for the HDR aficianados. One of the most interesting parts is towards the end at 1:03:48.
How can we see this video?
Amery Carlson 10 years ago
woops I pasted the link and then moved the text around minus the link. fixed now.
Amery Carlson 10 years ago
Here is his website as well. He has some of the technical papers he has written on HDR available in .pdf form(these are highly technical and not for the faint of heart). There is also a digital HDR photo from 1981(!) that he made in yosemite.
abrupt yarn [deleted] 10 years ago
Thanks for the tips...can't wait to try it in CS2.

I will be adding some Canon T1i HDR pics to my blog very soon! :)

- Moose
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