HDR – Always an Eye Catcher – But what actually is it?


HDR – Always an Eye Catcher – But what actually is it?

Some pictures look very artistic, colorful and almost like they have been painted – it is very likely that these are HDR pictures, but what actually is that?

A HDR picture is simply a picture with a very high dynamic range or, in other words, a digital picture with great differences in brightness and contrast.

I saw an HDR picture for the first time at Instagram and fell in love straightaway. Those colors and contrasts – it was all so very vivid and somewhat dynamic. I wanted to try that too. You can generate an HDR picture the professional way, i.e., take several exposure of one motive (bright, normal, dark) and then put them together to make one picture. One very good and popular program I use is “HDR Efex Pro” or “Photomatix”. There are several templates which can also be customized individually.

I experimented a lot and practiced until I was able to create my first good HDR picture. A camera which lets you adjust the various exposure sets is important, as is a tripod in order that the pictures taken with varying exposures are identical and can be put together later thereby ensuring the picture looks like a single one. Similar to newspaper printing, the printing plates have to be all identically on top of each other so that there are no printing errors afterwards.

Of course, this can also be done with an iPhone or with a camera without exposure steps. The result is then naturally correspondingly different, but is not necessarily worse. It is also always a question of processing and of individual taste. By now I am quite enthusiastic of the results and find myself increasingly choosing the quicker option. I recommend simply using the app “Snapseed” for this. It has an HDR filter which you can customize manually and which gives excellent results.

If the lighting conditions are difficult (very cloudy and backlight), I sometimes like to use the camera app “ProHDR” (iOS). To do so, you only need a relatively steady hand and the app does the rest. The saturation, contrast and exposure can be corrected manually later on and the HDR effect is immediate, without a lot of post production.

Many professional photographers will say that this is fake HDR, because it is generated from just one picture. However, I question whether everything always has to be so professional and done according to set rules? No, whatever pleases is allowed, and if there are alternatives then one should be free to make use of them.

Conclusion: An HDR picture is always an eye catcher due to the dynamic radiance and emphasis of contrasts. One person thinks it is fantastic and another doesn’t like it at all.
Speaking for myself, I couldn’t do without HDR.

Sylvia Matzkowiak

I started taking photos three years ago and cannot get enough of it. I has become a great passion.
I always see the world in colors and would like to see much of it. Therefore I love to travel, and show people what the world looks like through my eyes.


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