A Foray into HDR

Like everything else, there is excellent  HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photography and there is horrible HDR Photography.    I have several contacts on flickr who are absolute masters at it.  Their images leave me positively awestruck.   But a lot of  the HDR  I see on flickr and elsewhere on the net is simply not my cup of tea.  The color is often flat, like the colored Sunday Comic Pages.  It’s dull and frankly it just doesn’t look real.   I suppose that’s the idea.   As they say in Maine, “whatever floats your boat”!   I had never dabbled in HDR.  For one thing,  the magazines I freelance for now and then will not accept HDR or composite images.  It’s single shot 300dpi or forget about it.  And the floral concerns I regularly shoot for want natural looking prints.  Their preference is high gloss.

After  walking into one of the most light challenging situations I have ever encountered in more than 40 years of photography,  I found myself downloading a trial version of  Photomatix Pro,  one of the more popular and user friendly HDR Software Programs on the market.    It was either that or go spend an awful lot of hard earned bucks for some high tech lighting gear which I would  seldom have use for.  The problem was a dark church with a huge, very bright,  circular plain glass window right behind the alter.  I was trying to take a wide shot from the rear of the almost pitch dark sanctuary so as to capture two very large set piece arrangements behind the alter on either side of this window.  After working for hours in Photoshop Elements 10, I managed to come up with a decent shot.   It was that experience which sent me to Photomatix Pro.  My first actual use of it was this morning.  I waited until the sun was just starting to blast into our our otherwise dark great room just after 5 am.   I took five shots with a Nikon D700.  Exposures were -4, -3, -0-, +3 and +4.  This is the result:


The Photomatix watermark is there because this is a free trial version.  It’s not a shot I would write home about but I figure it wasn’t bad for a first go at it.  It certainly fixed the almost blinding light coming through the foyer (to the right) that was blowing everything out.  It did a very nice job of reproducing the colors in the artwork my wife and I have in our house  (My sister and my father were both artists)   I’ll do more trial runs with the trial software to polish up my technique but I’m pretty confident that the next time I run into another one of those shots from hell,  I’ll have something in my hip pocket  to  bail me out of a tight spot.  I’d say Photomatix is about to get another new customer.  Peace, Love and Soul everybody…Thanks for the look and the read and….have a Great Weekend.