HDR: I did it.

I’ve been infatuated by HDR since I first saw shots in Outdoor Photography Magazine years ago. I didn’t understand how to create them, or why several exposures of the same frame allowed crazy detailed results.

I still don’t, in entirety. Here’s a great example of why HDR is inspiring to me – image from Mike Olbinski photography (http://www.mikeolbinski.com/):


The photo below was taken from Greg Clure Photography, and was the winner of the Peter Lik HDR photography contest (http://gregclurephotography.blogspot.com/2011/06/from-edge-with-peter-lik-photo-contest.html). It’s what “pure stunning” looks like:

Playa de Verde

Going back to saying that I don’t understand HDR: I mean, I understand the fundamental concept of it, but to be specific: I don’t grasp the “why” part of why you can’t achieve the same result by just simply merging all layers of different exposures in the first place, or why you need a third party plug in until just very recently (CS6 provides HDR but after using it I much prefer Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro 2. Photoshop’s tools feel kind of clunky.)

I remember taking a series of photos years ago with my then-girlfriend and trying to figure it out later that night in her various editing programs. When it didn’t work we gave up – and the idea of spending 100 bucks on software was absurd. It wasn’t until my last trip to Yosemite and capturing an amazing pink sunset that I really set my intention on developing an HDR photograph. The one below was my first attempt. The colors came out great, but the overall composition is terrible.


Michele and I set out to capture the last sunset we had in Yosemite from one of the bridges near the Awhanee Hotel but realized quickly it was a bad position. We walked to the next bridge down where I grabbed a few interesting shots but the real score was to be set up across a meadow as the sun set just behind El Capitan. I sat in this meadow for at least an hour. Man it was cold.

Yosemite Sunset

I did, however, get to watch the sky go from yellow to an ugly kind of brown/rose color and then finally to a deep pink and I can’t complain – it was a great show. The last photo below is included as a more dramatic example of HDR, though I prefer the one above.

Untitled_HDR2 sunset 3

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3 Responses to HDR: I did it.

  1. digitalniki says:

    amazing work!

    *N.B Portfolio*

  2. Mohammad says:

    First of all very thanks for your great educational blog, about your question this is what I know
    “why you can’t achieve the same result by just simply merging all layers of different exposures?”
    Bcuz you can’t put some printed photos over each other to mix them!!
    This process gets the A pixel from each photo and makes and average result from them and makes another photo with mixing them. However when you adjust the parameters it’s like to bold one of shots more OR you adjust the brightness or contrast of that layer or final photo.

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