HDR - Too Much Reality?

[caption id="attachment_210" align="alignleft" width="167" caption="A canyon with all shadow detail visible"]
A canyon with all shadow detail visible


Traditional film-based photography involves a great deal of compromise, much of it arising from the limitations of the equipment. Digital photography removes or diminishes many these limitations.  For example, digital photography is extremely good at rendering tonal range and colour. High dynamic range imaging (HDR) takes this capability to extremes. HDR involves combining differently exposed images of the same scene. The resultant image retains useful information from all of the exposure settings. The idea is not new, but digital photography has made HDR accessible to vast numbers of amateur and professional photographers. And they trying it out en masse -- a search for HDR images on Flickr yields over one million results.

HDR images are unsettling. The level of detail is almost overwhelming, and the colours just too rich. Where the human eye usually sees only partial detail, HDR picks up everything. One can imagine a superhero with the capacity to see in HDR. Mere mortals may prefer the ordinary world of muted colours and imperfect perception.

Software is available for those wishing to try their hand at HDR, some of it free.