Over the past few months, I’ve mentioned to a few people that I often process photos as HDR images which met some confused looks. A discussion came up about it recently on an email list I’m on and that got me going back through some of my older photos to reprocess them as High Dynamic Range images.
So what does HDR really mean? A camera does not have nearly the same ability as our eyes to see into the shadows as well as the highlights of a scene. In order to get more detail in the shadows and highlights, a camera needs to to take multiple exposures taken and then combined to more closely capture what we can actually see. And, usually, we need to have the colors enhanced a bit to also accurately capture what our minds perceive. This site has an excellent explanation about all of this.
Last night, I went back to an image taken in 2005 that disappointed me greatly – back then I didn’t have the skills or software to capture that magnificence of that scene. I’ve revisited it a few times since then with no better luck – lighten the shadows and you end up with unacceptable noise. But improvements in noise reduction software has helped. This one ended up needing more of a ‘painterly’ look to it than I usually like, but my husband says that’s what he remembers that scene being like – there was heavy smoke in the air from wildfires on that trip, so quite a bit of color and “God Rays” or Crepuscular Rays.
Here’s a comparison screen shot of the before and after:
Here’s a larger version of that one that brings back memories of a sunset in Grand Teton National Park we shared as a couple so many years ago.