HDR - A Sneak Peak

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I was asked by my good friend, Ashley Benton Parker, to take a few photos of her and some friends that are taking part in a tour of homes here in Atlanta.  This photo is apparently going to run on the front page of the Northside Neighbor, so obviously I was rather excited that she asked me to do it! I've been studying up on a photography technique called HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range.  I'll save the details and explanation for a later, more informational post, but the down and dirty is that by taking multiple shots at different exposures and then combining all of them using a program called Photomatix, the end result is a much more detailed photograph.

As an example, the photo below was taken straight out of the camera:

Before

The picture above was one of 7 that I took.  My camera was mounted on a tripod, and I bracketed 7 exposures at 1 stop intervals (-3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3).  When I got home and sat down to process the photos, I used Adobe Bridge, Camera RAW and Photoshop CS4 to prep the photos for processing in Photomatix.  The 7 photos were merged together, allowing me to take the best of each photo and utilize it in the final result.

Here is the resulting photo after processing in Photomatix and then tweaking the color, contrast, vibrance and saturation in Camera RAW:

After

You'll notice that the new photo has much more detail, especially in areas like the driveway, gravel, stucco, cedar roof and sky. The first photo looked as if there were no clouds, yet the final photo shows that there were indeed a few in the sky! I admit that in some ways this photo may look surreal and perhaps extreme, but I think it's pretty cool.

I'll follow-up to this post with a couple more on HDR, and I'll go into greater detail in terms of the steps I took and settings I used. Until then, enjoy.....and feel free to let me know your thoughts. Do you like? Dislike? I'm all ears!