HDR to the Rescue

Having recently acquired Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro, I’ve been deliberately shooting some scenes that combine deep shade with bright light to see just how well the software can build a “normal”-looking image from a series of images that individually look pretty badly exposed. I’ve been pleased with the results. Here are two examples, followed by some explanation.

HDR test at UC Davis

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HDR test at UC Davis

In these two pictures at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at UC Davis, the foreground was in deep shade and the building was in bright, early-morning sunlight. These pictures were compiled in HDR Efex Pro from a series of 5 bracketed exposures, each 1.0 f-stop apart. The finished products are close to how the human eye sees the scene, but the camera, with its narrower range of optimal sensitivity to light, cannot see it this way. Here are thumbnails of 4 of the 5 exposures used to make the first image (one more brighter exposure was used along with these):

4 of the 5 exposures merged in HDR

Even if curve adjustments were applied separately (with masking) to bright and dark parts of the image, it would be tough to produce a final image from just one of these with overall good exposure, contrast, and color. High dynamic range (HDR) processing saved the day—er, morning—here.

Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
Copyright © 2011 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.

About Tim Messick

Photographer, cartographer, and botanist/naturalist. Home is in Davis, California. Home-away-from-home is the eastern Sierra Nevada. Compiling a flora of the Bodie Hills.
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One Response to HDR to the Rescue

  1. ecovelo says:

    Very nice (subtle) use of HDR, Tim.

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