Photographic Equipment

Introduction to High Dynamic Range and Histogram

Whether you are a professional or an amateur photographer, it pays to keep up with technological developments in the industry. The traditional processes of any photographic system, whether a SLR or a digital method, involve capturing an image, storing that image,

dragonfly-at-work-267-x-190.jpgWhether you are a professional or an amateur photographer, it pays to keep up with technological developments in the industry. The traditional processes of any photographic system, whether a SLR or a digital method, involve capturing an image, storing that image, editing it and finally producing a print or output. The technologies behind each part of the system will always impact the final photographic print. The newest technology rapidly under development, and one that actually applies to and appears in all parts of any photographic system, is called HDR or High Dynamic Range.

What is HDR?

HDR in its simplest understanding means that the camera records more details in shadows as well as in high light. It also means that traditional image storage, currently JPEG or GIF files do not offer enough range for an HDR image. These images are truly rich in color and depth. The current 8-bit technology is being expanded to 16-bit to allow for the increased intensities of HDR photographs.

How Can You Create HDR Images?

Software applications are all ready creating high dynamic range tools, but the entire computer industry has not yet caught up with portions of HDR technology, for example Photoshop software, one of the most commonly used photo-editing programs, has an HDR tool, but it will only reveal the range of colors that a computer monitor can recognize. Also, HDR color mapping deletes the 0-255 color range that most computer users and digital photographers are used to. There are also software programs that you can utilize in conjunction with each other to create these amazing photos, such as Photomatrix and Photoshop.

However, in order for these software programs to work properly, you have to start with a few different photos of the image. You will need three to five photos of different exposures of the exact same object. These exposures are going to be set on each end of the histogram, with one being too dark, one being just right and another being too bright. When they are combined in the software, the end result is an amazing photo that combines the different attributes of each shot.

How the Industry is Improving for HDR Photo Creations

Instead, the HDR color mapping increases the numerical values into the millions. Photographers and artists will need to be re-educated about tonal values and where those color values will be located on this newer and incredibly immense scale. The last editorial issue involves the computer processes of editing such high-range images – channels are increased by four – an 8mb image becomes 32mb, handling such enormous file sizes will bring many computers to a grinding halt. The industry is already in the process of retooling to meet the increasing needs of photographers, both professional and amateur.

Professionals and consumers alike may ask if this technology is worth the trouble and expense, but true photographic reproduction of an image or scene is much more possible with HDR photography. Images will seem more life like and strikingly sharp and clear. Within the coming decade HDR will enter the consumer market, whether it is recognized as a separate new technology or marketed manufacturers under their own names and labels, it will revolutionize photography and how photos are taken, edited, stored and displayed. You can learn more by clicking on this image of Amy’s eBook below.

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Contributed by Amy Renfrey