What is HDR? HDR means high dynamic range and is able capturing and breaking out all the details in the shadow and in the highlights, it can make a real looking image (my preference) or something very surreal.
- There is a great article that explains what it is and how to capture the required files here: A beginner’s guide to HDR
Today I thought I would try a comparison of the HDR tools that I have access to. I set up my tripod in the New Forest, I had the polarising filter on so that I could capture the detail in the water, and took a photo at F20, ISO 100 with a variety of shutter lengths to ensure that I captured 5 images of the same scene – one with average exposure, and then 2 stops of light either side.
I have got a number of different ways I can take these 5 images and develop them to include so that I have a high dynamic range.
The first adaption was done in Lightroom CC – straight from the files above. It has coped really well with the leaves moving in the breeze on the trees and I think it maps the colours the best.
A totally different feel to the image – the blues are bluer, the leaves less sharp and the colours more saturated in the image below – this was opened in Photoshop and the HDR pro tool was used – choosing photorealistic as the option. There are a lot more options available to edit the image this way, and a lot more fine tuning that can take place – but this default application does not look as natural looking.
Taken into photoshop cc again, but this time edited with a plugin from the Google Nik Collection – the detail on the tree trunk is amazing, it has handled the movement in the leaves much better and water almost takes on an iridescent glow.
The HDR Efex Pro plugin allows you to stimulate the HDR effect on just a single image – so I worked it’s magic with just one exposure – and the leaves are nice and sharp – as there was no movement to deal with. There is not as much detail in the moss and the water – but if you have not taken five shots originally I think it makes a great attempt at capturing the full range of colours.
HDR Effects Pro, and Photoshop HDR pro can both by pushed to the extremes – an example of which I have included below. It is not a style I like – but it is interesting to try just so that I understand the capabilities of the software.
The experiement is an interesting one – 5 original images taken at the same settings with just exposure differences – edited slightly differently all with the “HDR” options and 5 very different end results … it certainly highlights that if you don’t get the result you are trying for – try again, but equally you realise that it could be a real timewaster as you edit and edit and loose sight of what you were trying to say through making the image come alive.
Finally as I was out walking in the woods – I spotted some more fungi … there were amazing – but I did not make the photos, I took them as record shots… as looking back at them I can see the errors!