Experimenting with HDR

From time to time I go running and for walks in Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. It really is a beautiful park. I was interested in trying out this HDR photography (High Dynamic Range) technique so last week I went to Discovery Park and a few other places to make some test shots.  HDR is made to capture contrasty scenes through multiple exposures and combine those different exposures to make one High Dynamic Range image.

I bought Photomatix, a software program many people say is useful for doing this technique and I tried following the instructions I found on Trey Ratcliff’s tutorial on HDR as well as those instructions I found on the Photomatix website. Both resources were just OK and left a lot of details out.  The software also seemed a bit “buggy” but maybe I just didn’t know what I was doing… I was frustrated they didn’t have very detailed instructions of how to using the Photomatix plugin for Adobe Lightroom using RAW files.  I guess Trey wants people to buy his book.

I will keep trying this technique because if done well it can make some truly unique imagery.  I found there is definitely a learning curve and not every subject works well for HDR.  I’ve found that complex and detailed subject matter combined with movement (tree branches moving slightly in the wind) can be somewhat problematic.  Wide angle lenses and chromatic aberration can also cause problems.

Here are some samples of what I came up with that afternoon.

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