The images I have used in creating some of my programmatical images have been used courtesy of those who have licensed their images through Creative Commons. For those images where attribution is required, there is a tab below linking to the original. The images I have created are copyright, other than those which are specified below as being “share-alike”, where they are available under the same licence as the original. To see the images I’ve created, you can look at Instagram, or Facebook.
When it first gained popularity a few years ago, image sharing sites like Flickr were awash with heavily processed, ultra-high contrast images with halos around trees and clouds. They were fascinating pictures, because they were some of the first easily created photos that allowed you to see the detail of both dark and light areas of the image. The novelty of these images quickly wore off, but the software that processes them has been refined and, although I’ll still go for a slightly over-processed look sometimes, I use HDR to try to recreate what I saw when I was there. As much as technology has moved on, the human eye is still slightly ahead, and the brain makes a pretty good job of adapting quickly to give you an overall view that captures as much detail as possible.
Even phones will now take HDR photos for you, automating the processing to give an overall result of detail in areas that would ‘struggle’ otherwise. Think of the photo you’ve taken out of a window somewhere, the outside looked lovely, but it basically had a black border. Or the other way, where you just get a bright white window and a nicely lit room. I’m aiming for a more subtle effect, and so my first requirement is as many exposures to work with as is practical. The more exposures you have, the more choice whatever software you use will have to choose an exposure that is closest to what you want in every part of the image. I generally take 7 exposures, from -3 to +3 stops. That’s probably overkill, but I actually like the process. 5 (-2 to +2 in single stops) is usually plenty, and in most cases 3 exposures will get you fair results. You can judge how much to bracket your own photos, but I’d generally go for +/-1.5 stops.
To go that step further and aim for your best photos, the points I stick to are:
I think you should probably go and take some bracketed photos. There’s lots of software out there to process HDR images for you, but come back in a bit and I’ll show you what I used to transform this photo.