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HDR - High Dynamic Range

High Dynamic Range

   What is HDR and once you know - how do you acquire it for your in the desert photos. Of course it's simple, software! It's like medicine today; there's a pill for everything -- there's a software for everything too!

   Everyone has taken a photograph that lacks in high dynamic range. You took a photo looking out from a nice place in the shadows - right into a bright sunny area. So you end up with a choice -- one; you get the shadowed area nice an bright and everything beyond that in the sunny area has all the highlights blown out - ( washed out to the point they lose detail and are almost white ). Or you get the sunny area normal ( not blown out ) with all the right colors and brightness -- but now the shadowed area is too dark and you've lost detail and it almost looks like it's night time in the shadows.  High Dynamic Range -- has the best of both worlds, nice rendition of the sunny area and a well lit shadow area. So how is this possible?


Bracketing Photograph
   Here's a photograph showing what an average D-SLR camera will do in a situation like this. Not bad for the camera metering the scene and giving us an average of the shadow areas and the well lit backyard. NOTICE on all 3 photos here what the Exposure Compensation set by the camera was. This one is zero, no plus or minus. These 3 photographs were taken using the camera's exposure bracketing system.
Bracketing Photograph
   Now if your not familiar with exposure bracketing this is the time to learn, if the final outcome interests you at all. You could take 3 different exposures by adjusting the exposure compensation or just by using the manual mode and changing the exposure for each shot to a plus 2 and a minus 2. However the exposure bracketing system is much easier as it takes one or three shots depending on the camera. If the camera takes only one shot and makes the other two -- great, otherwise you'll have to have a tripod so all the shots are oriented identically. If you don't use bracketing then you have to change the exposure to get the same results as bracketing with your camera.
   This one to the left is a plus 2, as you can tell, and has blown highlights.
Bracketing Photograph

   Now you should be able to tell that this one is under-exposed. Minus 2 EV. The interior of the patio is too dark, but the sky looks nice and in fact the backyard rock base even looks good. The object here will be to blend all three of these to get a photograph that has all the desired parts of each separate photograph.


   Now there are quite a few software's out there that will give you a HDR image. Some like Photomatix cost ($99 in 10-16) and don't have as many options as one of the ones below. We were looking for a software that was reasonably priced and easy to use. There are some free ones available but none that in my honest opinion were worth mentioning here. Now  for some of you that have Photomatix and like it, great, if you're used to using it then hang onto it. This is for first time buyers, users, looking for an honest review of HDR software. In my opinion Photomatix just didn't work as well with as many options.

Media Chance HDR             Their  Web Site      Cost as of 10/12/16  ($144.00)

   The first one is  Media Chance HDR  and their program also excepts single and multiple images to make an HDR image. As you can see above it works great! This is a Windows software.

HDR Examples

   Here's the original photo we started off with. Taken inside an old gold mine mill building. We wanted to keep it even though it was hard to tell what is in the photo because of a lack of light in the building. So we processed it in 3 different HDR software's. They all came out good. You like one particular one more. All the softare performed quite well. Denny Thurston quickly ran the original through Aurora HDR for us and it turned out great also.
HDR software
   All 3 of these HDR software's saved the day. There are many options available in each one of these that we did not take advantage of. We used a preset, so there is still a lot of latitude left to used in adjusting these images to your taste. Compare any one of these to the orginal image!
   Like we said above, there are many, many more options available in these programs that we did not take advantage of. So there is still room for improvement on these photos. They are very complex software's and will take some time to learn to use them with anything other than the presets. Software's are fun to play with and can really make your photos look great!

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   This is what the resulting image looks like. Nice sky and more detail in the shadow areas of the photo. A great way to enhance a photo. This one was done in DynamicPhoto HDR by Media Chance.

Corel PaintShop Pro HDR     Their  Web Site      Cost as of 10/12/16  ($100.00)

   Corel's HDR program is incorporated into their PaintShop Pro software and can work with single or multiple exposure images. It works great! This is a Windows software.

Macphun's Aurora HDR 2017  Their  Web Site    Cost as of 10/12/16  ($99.00)

   This software is for Mac users. You can use multiple exposure or single exposure images to get an HDR result. This also works great!  For Mac users.
Orginal Photo
Corel HDR
Mediachance HDR
Macphun Aurora HDR

Corel HDR

Mediachance HDR

Aurora 2017 HDR