What is HDR Photography?

High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography is a technique that allows for more tonal range in a photograph. Our eyes have a dynamic range of 11 f-stops light, which allows us to see details in shadows and highlights of things we look at. On the other hand a digital camera sees about 6 f-stops of light, thus reducing the details in the shadows and highlights of a photograph and making the image look flat. By using the HDR technique we are able to bring the range back closer to that which our eyes can see. The technique works by taking a minimum of there photographs from the same spot at three different exposure settings. In the photographs below I have three photographs, one taken at the metered exposure (the standard exposure the camera would take). One photograph is underexposed by 2 f-stops from the standard exposure and one is over exposed by 2 f-stops from the standard exposure. Some software of which there are many different types then takes the three images and combines them into an HDR image. There is still extra work to be done after that to get the look right but this is the basics of HDR photography.

The photograph above is the standard exposure from the camera.

The photograph above is the 2 f-stops underexposed image from the camera.

The photograph above is the 2 f-stops over exposed image from the camera.

This is the final image after combining the three previous images together. Click on the image for a larger version.