Blended Exposures – Tutorial

Blending exposures is a technique to allow you to effectively increase the brightness range (dynamic range) in a photograph beyond what the film or sensor can capture normally.  You might be thinking, ‘well isn’t that what HDR is supposed to do?’  And you’d be right.  Some people don’t like HDR.  Some people don’t find HDR software overly easy to use or can’t get the tonemapping done the way they want.  Sometimes you don’t need 5 or 7 or 9 exposures to get the result you want.  The technique of blending exposures has been practised for many years and is still a useful tool to have in the toolbox.

To do this, you need at least two exposures of a photo at different exposure settings.  One properly exposed for the highlights, with dark shadows and one properly exposed for the shadows with overly bright highlights.  It’s best if the middle values in the different images you use are close to the same  The middle values may be a bit dark on the highlight shot and a bit bright on the shadow shot but still fairly close. Continue reading

HDR Software Review Pt V – SNS-HDR Pro

UPDATE:  August 9, 2010 – SNS-HDR continues to be improved.  The latest (v1.2) has improved speed over previous versions.  While still not quite as fast as some others, it’s now fast enough that speed isn’t a concern.  Also, something I had overlooked previously is that at the bottom of the tonemapping panel, to the right of the colour profile dropdown is a small monitor icon.  Clicking on this brings up a dialogue box to select the appropriate display profile.  This is only necessary in WinXP due to limitations on colour management support in that OS.  Later versions of Windows don’t need to do this.

SNS-HDR is a relative newcomer to the game. Since writing the introductory piece for this review series, checking the search stats for my site, SNS has been the single most searched for term that brought people to my blog. It’s obviously getting a fair bit of attention. Based on what I can see tracking a few IP addresses, most of the attention is coming from Europe but it’s likely that the buzz will move across the pond in due course.  The website is in Polish but there’s a Google Translate dropdown in the upper right that will convert to English (or other languages). Continue reading

The Great HDR Debate Pt II

I wrote a post a while back called The Great HDR Debate.  That was almost a year ago.  It seems that the debate over HDR, its validity as a photo editing tool, the results generated and the concept in total remain every bit as controversial and perhaps even moreso than at that time.  It seems as though the anti-HDR camp is becoming increasingly zealous in their opposition to HDR in any form.

I was recently on a photo forum where a member had asked a question about how to do HDR.  He’d seen some, thought it was interesting and wanted to try it out but didn’t know how to get started.  Through more than a page of responses there were a raft of people telling him ‘don’t bother’ or ‘HDR sucks’, or ‘go ahead and check it out but NEVER use it on real photos’.  Probably a dozen or more responses telling him how bad HDR was but not one person answering his actual question.  Is this what it’s come to?  If so, why?

I’ve said in the past that I’m not a big fan of the hyper-processed, way over the top, comic book looking HDR effects.  It just doesn’t appeal to me.  But I know it does to some.  So be it.  It’s part of the subjective nature of the appreciation of art.  It continues to surprise me (although maybe it shouldn’t) that there is still, in this day and age, such a closed-minded, intolerant, ignorant presence in the art community. Continue reading