Our step-by-step guide teaches you how to navigate the most popular HDR
programs, including one you may already have at your fingertips.
A CURIOUS SITUATION: HDR OR TRADITIONAL LIMITED RANGE IMAGE?
The images on this page are from Luray Caverns, in Virginia. The first one is the middle/normal exposure in a bracketed sequence, shot using the available light in the cavern, with camera set to Auto White Balance. The spotlights have a very tungsten cast, when in reality, the formations are closer to a milky whitish gray.
The lower image is an HDR image of all three bracketed exposures, merged to HDR in Photomatix. After choosing my Tonemapping settings and importing to Photoshop for final tweaking, I further desaturated the orange tones to create a color palette more faithful to the original scene as I remembered it. I made very minor Levels adjustments for white and black clipping, which added slightly more contrast to the scene.
No one can disagree with the fact that there is much more overall detail in the HDR-processed image, especially in the highlight and shadow areas, nor that the colors are more true to life; however, an informal poll in the PopPhoto.com forums shows an overwhelming preference for the first image, color casting, lost shadows, and all.
An image that contained the best of both of these -- great detail, more contrast, and minimized color casting would probably have gotten the most votes, were it an option.
On the other hand, geologists might very much prefer the HDR image, not so much as an objet d'art, but as a documentation of the cavern, as it is truer to the formations; and as these formations exist in a light-free environment, any directional light is an artificial enhancement of the existing geological features.
Join the PopPhoto.com forums, and tell us what you think of this example!