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New HDR Article In Outdoor Photography Canada

September 16, 2011
Prairie Generations, Taber

Prairie Generations, Taber. This is an HDR image where I used the technique to control the bright light on the colorful canola blooms and the distant white turbine towers. Does it look surreal? Nope!

The fall/winter 2011 issue of Outdoor Photography Canada magazine has started to hit shelves. Amongst the great collection of writing and photography, readers will find my new article, “6 Tips for Photorealistic HDR.”

High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique has become very popular in the past few years. It’s a way of taking multiple exposures and blending them with computer software to achieve a high-fidelity digital capture of a scene, followed by a series of creative toning steps to produce a final image that can be shown on a monitor or sent to a photo printer. HDR is usually used in situations where the contrast (range of bright highlights to dark shadows) is extreme, or the lighting conditions are otherwise very challenging.

For good or ill, HDR has become popularly associated with a surrealistic style of image making, often seen on Flickr and other photo sharing web sites; a lot people like this look, but many other folks, not so much. As a result, some photographers may be turned off the technique when in fact it offers a lot of benefits for those who maintain a photorealistic style.

Check out my article for the set of core tips I follow in my own HDR work:

  • Start with a clean master image.
  • Use moderate toning strength.
  • Apply moderate detail.
  • Balance local vs. global contrast.
  • Control the saturation.
  • Do a reference check.
  • Add the final polish.

Just from the list of tips above, the obvious keys are control and moderation. HDR, in my opinion like virtually any other technique, is most useful when it’s deliberately applied just enough for the photographer to exercise creative control in achieving his or her chosen ends. For me, that usually means photorealism, steering away from the wilder effects that HDR toning software can produce. For someone else, perhaps the surrealistic look is the desired outcome, in which case go for it! But that sort of look is not the only thing that HDR technique can produce, rather it’s just one of the choices.

The article “6 Tips for Photorealistic HDR” may appear online in due course, at the Outdoor Photography Canada web site. But if the magazine is available at a book store or newsstand near you (or you wish to subscribe), I encourage you to support this unique Canadian publication!

Side note: I will be conducting hands-on instruction on photorealistic HDR technique at the Light Matters Masterclass: Creative Expressions event this coming November. Masterclass participants will get the opportunity to work through a linked set of seminar, lab and field experiences based on an extended description of my approach to keeping it real with HDR. For information about this or future workshops covering HDR technique, please feel free to contact me.

Got a question or an opinion on HDR, either as a viewer or a photographer? Share it here…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2011 23:36

    Excellent… congratulations with that Royce, best wishes from us both.

  2. September 18, 2011 08:25

    Saw your article, Royce — well done! You are the master of the natural HDR way. I salute you.

  3. September 18, 2011 09:18

    Thanks! It feels good to finally get that bit of writing out there… 🙂

  4. October 3, 2011 09:27

    I have seen it here and there and always wondered why you couldn’t take advantage of the technique and maintain a photorealistic look…and here’s how. Wonderful post.

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