While browsing through Flickr’s “interestingness” pages this evening, enjoying all the amazing photography featured in there, I came upon a term that I hadn’t ever seen before: HDR. All the really amazing sunset photos, for example, were tagged with it, so naturally I was curious.
With a little help from Wikipedia, I learned that HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, and is a set of techniques for allowing for a wider, more dynamic range of exposure, thus causing the varying intensities between sunlight and dark shadows to be more accurately represented. Basically, it’s like taking a series of bracketed photos (where you take the same photo repeatedly, over and under-exposing by at least one stop in each direction) and instead of simply picking the best-looking one, you use software to intelligently merge together all the best bits of the whole set. You tend to end up drawing out more of the dark darks, and the bright lights, and get an even more stunning representation of color that way. LifeOfAGeek has a better explanation and a tutorial of how to create an HDR image in Adobe Photoshop CS2 here.
It’s been a several months since I’ve spent this much time perusing Flickr, but I’m surprised that this new technique has gained so much popularity since then. (Although, it’s also very possible that I just didn’t notice it before….LOL.) Nevertheless, I’m now subscribed to the Flickr RSS feed for photos tagged with HDR, and will definitely want to go try taking some of my own sometime soon. In the mean time, there’s also a ton of great HDR samples in Trey Ratcliff’s “The Variety of HDR Photography” photoset to enjoy.